Social Stigma #1: It’s always a female problem
One out of 8 couples struggle with infertility, not being able to get pregnant within a year of having unprotected sex or 6 months if over 35 years old. For the 15% of couples that cannot get pregnant, at least half the time there is a male or sperm factor! Research repeatedly shows for couples having difficulty ⅓ of the time the cause is solely sperm related, ⅓ of the time it’s solely egg-related, and ⅓ of the time it’s both sperm and egg-related. When a couple has difficulty, it’s seen as a female problem, so she turns to her Ob/Gyn for answers. The male on the other hand, despite what we know about sperm contributing equally to getting pregnant and difficulty getting pregnant, probably hasn’t seen a doctor since his last pediatrician appointment.
An equitable approach would be for both partners to be checked simultaneously to get the whole picture and identify and treat underlying issues together.
Social Stigma #2: Masculine men aren’t infertile
Although male fertility issues are incredibly common, discussing the topic with a doctor means overcoming deeply-rooted associations of fertility and masculinity. History is littered with examples of how men avoid blame when they are unable to father children, and yet, despite the progress in gender equality, many of the myths associated with male fertility have persisted for centuries. The pharmaceutical industry made it ok to talk about – and more importantly, treat – erectile dysfunction and hair loss, but the topic of male fertility eludes mainstream discussions and awareness. Infertility isn’t an issue of masculinity or virility, it is a health issue that we can help you address.
Social Stigma #3: I don’t want to masturbate in a doctor’s office
Many individuals feel awkward, uneasy, or embarrassed about the idea of providing a semen sample. Sometimes this stress even affects your ability to produce a sample on demand. It’s not unlike females in exam stirrups with a speculum in their vagina, but hey, at least you get to orgasm.
Today, there are options – you can produce a sample in the office or you can complete an at-home test. For those that provide a sample in the office, rest assured that the medical team is busy treating patients and not fazed by masturbation. Don’t worry, the staff doesn’t think twice about what you’re doing in the collection room. If masturbating in an office collection room or bathroom is not for you, consider an at-home semen analysis kit.
For some men, anxiety about providing a semen sample may go beyond just embarrassment or being self-conscious. Whether related to your religion, culture, history of abuse, trauma, or any reason, if providing a sample for a semen analysis is a serious concern, please know you deserve to be compassionately supported and informed of your options.