The role of men in assisted reproduction techniques

By (embryologist).
Last Update: 03/15/2024

When a heterosexual couple goes to an assisted reproduction clinic, the fact is that most of the fertility treatment involves the woman. It is she who will generally undergo a greater number of tests, who will receive hormonal medication and even who will undergo surgery if the indicated treatment is in vitro fertilization (IVF).

This has meant that the role of men has often been overshadowed. However, fertility treatments should be understood as a couple's treatment to try to fulfill a common project: to have a baby.

How does a man cope with fertility treatment?

Faced with a diagnosis of infertility in the couple, whatever the cause, the man also experiences a mixture of emotions that can be difficult to manage. Frustration, anger, uncertainty, anxiety... Even their self-esteem may be affected, as fertility is often mistakenly associated with virility.

However, men tend to be more introverted in the face of assisted reproduction treatment. Generally, they have less need to talk openly about their feelings, but they also adopt this posture to try not to worry their partner. In addition, they feel the pressure that they seem to always be expected to stay strong.

All of this leads to the man avoiding talking about anything related to fertility treatment. However, this coping strategy can create misunderstandings, as the woman may interpret it as her partner being disengaged or having doubts about parenthood. This does not have to be the case and the man probably wants a baby as much as she does. They are simply different ways of dealing with it. Thus, it is very important to understand that each member of the couple may go through this situation differently.

For this reason, and to avoid friction and misunderstandings, there must be good communication between the two, always based on respect.

What can men do to become more involved?

The woman requires a great deal of the attention when the couple attends a fertility clinic. In general, she will undergo further tests. She will also be the one who will have to administer hormone medication, attend more controls and analytical tests, and even undergo surgery if the reproductive treatment requires it.

However, during an assisted reproduction treatment, it is important that both members of the couple feel involved in the process, since it is a common project. This is especially important when donor sperm treatment is to be performed, as the male may feel even more displaced.

In this sense, so that both feel involved in the process, recommendations such as the following can be followed:

  • Go through all phases of the treatment together, as far as possible: attend all visits and check-ups as a couple, help the woman to take her hormone medication, see the results of the pregnancy test together...
  • Taking care of the couple's relationship. It is important to be together in each step of the treatment, but also to do things that distract to avoid having your head always on the same thing. It is important for the couple to keep doing the things they enjoy most.
  • Make important decisions together. To have a respectful conversation, maintain a fluid conversation with the partner and reach an agreement between the two of you. Also talk about the emotions generated by everything related to reproductive treatment, in order to understand the other and avoid misunderstandings.
  • Being present, hugging, having details... so that the partner notices the support.
  • Couples should seek psychological consultation, if deemed necessary, as many fertility clinics now offer this service. In this way, both will be able to learn strategies to emotionally manage the situation.

In this way, the well-being of the couple is increased and the relationship may even be strengthened, as both of them feel involved in the search for their baby.

FAQs from users

Can the male undergo psychological therapy during fertility treatment?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Yes, going through an assisted reproduction treatment is a hard and complicated time for the couple. There are many emotions that can be difficult to manage and, in addition, the way of dealing with it can be different for each member of the couple.

This can lead to misunderstandings and arguments, so the help of a specialist to help manage the situation will be of great value.

For this reason, many assisted reproduction clinics nowadays have psychologists in their portfolio of services, to whom both partners can go.

Suggested for you

Fertility problems can sometimes cause some conflict and friction within the couple. If you want to read some recommendations to prevent this from happening, you can access the following link: How to prevent infertility from causing problems in the couple?

On the other hand, sexual relations can also be affected when there are fertility problems. In this article you can read more information: Why can love and sex be affected in infertility?

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FAQs from users: 'Can the male undergo psychological therapy during fertility treatment?'.

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 Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduate in Health Biology from the University of Alcalá and specialized in Clinical Genetics from the same university. Master in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Valencia in collaboration with IVI clinics. More information about Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
License: 3435-CV

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