We’re wrapping up Infertility Awareness week with a refreshed sense of motivation to continue spreading the word about the infertility journey and embryo adoption. This year, there was a new focus in the press on a side of infertility that has been frequently neglected: the man’s experience.
It doesn’t take long to notice that most of the content available online (including our own!) is tailored to the female infertility experience. While the medical steps required for treatments like IVF fall mostly on women, there are understated impacts on the male partner too.
As Sharon Covington, the Director of Psychological Support Services at Shady Grove Fertility in Washington D.C., shared with the Huffington Post, “It’s easy for men to be forgotten or minimized in the process. They have to insist on having a voice in doctor meetings so doctors realize they are 50 percent of the equation.”
The psychological burden of infertility can weigh just as heavily on men, as seen in a 2015 study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility that at least 15 percent of male partners struggled with depression during an 18-month period of infertility.
So what can we do to better support each other?
- Check in with each other: It’s easy to turn inwards when trying to persevere through emotional hardships. Resist the temptation to withdraw and deliberately make the time to check in with each other’s emotions.
- Be honest about how you feel, encourage your partner to do the same: The first step towards healing is vulnerability. Be honest with yourself and your partner about how you feel but don’t let it stop there. Encourage your partner to be vulnerable with you too.
- Listen. Really listen: Pay attention and ask questions that get to the root of his emotional journey. Don’t let a simple “fine” or “ok” pass for an answer. Ask open-ended questions and listen carefully to his response.