How Well Do Men Cope With Failed Fertility Treatments?

Almost one in seven couples will seek help with getting pregnant. Nearly half of these couples will proceed with some form of fertility treatment such as an IVF ( in vitro fertilisation ), an ICSI ( Intracytoplasmic Sperm Insemination ) or Insemination ( IUI ). Sometimes couples may have to consider treatments with donated eggs, sperms or embryos.

In most fertility treatments, women suffer from several physical effects due to complications. Also, there are side effects that come with fertility drugs. Specialists recognise the emotional or psychological effects of fertility treatments have on women. However, we have little understanding about men. We don’t know how well men cope emotionally with an infertility diagnosis or their reaction to a failed fertility treatment.

A recent study looked into all the quality published research papers on this subject to date. It appears that men are as emotionally affected as their female partners. Sometimes, these emotional difficulties may start from the initial assessment with a fertility specialist. This effect will be more severe if they suffer from anxiety or symptoms related to low mood or depression.

It appears that the emotional effects may get worse until a year after the first interaction with fertility specialists. There was no further worsening of these psychological symptoms beyond the initial year. It also appears that some of these men may feel less inclined to have a child. Especially if their treatment has been unsuccessful more than five years since having first started the process.

Men also feel that fertility specialists do not involve them as much as their female partners. Somehow, they perceive to be at the periphery of the interactions with specialists. It is important to understand what factors may have the less damaging effect. Men will cope better if there is more positive communication with their partner.

Coping with failed male fertility treatments

emotional effects 2I understand that maintaining a positive communication after failed fertility treatments is difficult. But it is a better coping strategy. A positive attitude can be described where the couple is trying to understand their situation.They may also engage better with their fertility specialists. The couple can try to explore their future fertility treatment options.

They may also think of seeing a fertility counsellor for developing positive coping strategies. Such behaviours function around problem-solving attitude.They are not about mentally reinforcing how catastrophic the treatment was. In another instance, it’s not about how draining their experience has been.

It is also important that both partners maintain open communication. Above all, they need to keep away from avoidance behaviour. How men will cope with a failed IVF treatment will also depend on how their partners are coping emotionally. It is possible that the partner engages in avoidance behaviour or religious coping strategies. Then it will have an adverse effect on the male partner.

Having good social support has a positive effect on how men will cope with failed IVF treatment. It is important that Fertility Specialists actively engage male partners in the discussions. Men should also be aware that they can avail counselling from a fertility counsellor. They can use this service either alone or as a couple.

According to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority ( HFEA ), all fertility clinics should offer access to counselling services from British Infertility Counselling Association ( BICA ) accredited counsellor. Fertility clinics should also publish leaflets to generate awareness among men about emotional problems. Such as emotional consequences of a failed IVF or Fertility treatment.