Men and women have some consistent differences when it comes to dealing with their problems, and infertility is no exception. While women tend to be supportive and open about discussing the challenges they face with infertility, men are less expressive, and sometimes uninvolved in what their female partners are going through. For many experts, such a lack of communication is not uncommon, since traditionally, assistive reproductive therapies are focused more on women than on men.
It is imperative for men in relationships who are dealing with infertility to have ownership of not only the problem, but also the process by which a solution can be achieved. Infertility as a disease is multifactorial, and can have a variety of contributing etiologies. Treatments and procedures can take their toll on the women undergoing them, and the men in their lives must be prepared to be as supportive as they can.
The following is a list of suggestions on how men can help the women they love cope with in-vitro fertilization:
• Ask the assistive reproductive specialist as many questions as possible. This helps to understand the process to a much greater extent, and prepares the man for active participation.
• Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed if pregnancy does not happen right away.
• Resist feeling anxious about pregnancy. Remain positive for your partner through every step of the IVF cycle.
• Be an active participant in the process as possible. IVF cycles require preparation not only from the woman, but also from the man.
• Seek counseling and emotional support from other men as well as mental health professionals as often as desired. Although this can be done as a couple, men should not be intimidated about finding support on their own.
• Be selective about who knows about your fertility issues. Your and your partner’s health is ultimately your own business, and having to retell stories about failures and disappointment can add to an already stressful situation.
• Approach assistive reproductive therapy with an open mind. Doing this would allay fears about failure of the IVF procedure, or about unexpected outcomes such as multiple births. Being open-minded also enables the man to manage expectations better.
In addition to supporting the women in their lives, men should also take care of their own bodies and minds. Eating healthy foods daily, avoiding alcohol and other vices can greatly boost nutrition and maintain normal male hormone levels. Exercising at least five days out of every week for at least 30 minutes a day can mitigate depression and relieve stress. By ensuring their own strength, men can help and support women undergoing IVF, leading to greater IVF success.