When it comes to babies, family-building, adoption and surrogacy, the conversation tends to revolve around women. It’s easy to assume that because mothers are the ones carrying the pregnancy, they are also the ones who care most about having children — and, when efforts to conceive naturally fail, it’s easy to assume that women are the ones with the fertility problem.
But the truth is that male factor infertility plays a role in 30 to 50 percent of infertility cases, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), and it can be just as emotionally challenging to overcome as female infertility.
If male infertility has played a role on your path to surrogacy, you’re not alone. To open up the conversation about male factor infertility, here are five important things everyone should know about the condition:
1. There are many different causes of male infertility.
There are many factors that can contribute to male factor infertility. According to RESOLVE, the national infertility association, some common causes include:
- A blockage or other structural abnormality that affects the flow of sperm
- Low sperm count or quality caused by a sperm production disorder
- Ejaculatory issues that prevent the sperm from ever reaching the egg
- Immunologic disorders that prevent fertilization
- Azoospermia, a condition in which the testicles do not produce any sperm
- Obstructive azoospermia, in which sperm is produced but blocked by an obstruction
- And more
Some of these infertility issues are caused by underlying health problems, like hormonal imbalances. Prior surgeries and radiation from cancer treatments can also damage reproductive organs and sperm.
2. Seeing a doctor should always be your first step.
If you and your partner have been trying to conceive for one year without success, it’s time to see a doctor about possible infertility issues. Both partners should schedule a consult and have a workup done to determine the potential cause of their infertility (and identify any other underlying health issues). Of course, you should also always see a doctor if you notice any lumps, swelling, pain or other abnormalities affecting the groin area.
Some men are reluctant to take this step, but when it comes to your reproductive health, it’s important to be proactive. Seeing a doctor is the only way to get to the bottom of what’s causing your fertility problems — and to make a plan for how to move forward. Your doctor will assess your medical history and perform a semen analysis and other medical tests to diagnose your fertility problems.
3. There are options for overcoming male infertility.
With rapid advances in reproductive medicine and technology, there are now more options available to couples struggling with infertility than ever before. Depending on the type and cause of your infertility, there are several courses of treatment your doctor may recommend, from in vitro fertilization (IVF) to sperm washing and intrauterine insemination.
There are also more family-building options today than ever before. If fertility treatments aren’t right for you, you might consider other family-building options, like surrogacy or adoption. While it’s important to remember that these options are not “cures” for infertility, they will allow you to finally bring home the child that you’ve dreamed about for so long.
4. Male infertility can have emotional implications.
Just like for women, an infertility diagnosis and treatment can be an emotional rollercoaster for men — even if they’re not willing to admit it. Society often links manliness and fertility, which can lead men to experience shock, anger, sadness, guilt and low self-esteem following a male factor infertility diagnosis.
Talking about these feelings can be difficult, but it’s important to acknowledge the emotional pain of infertility in order to fully heal and move forward with your family-building journey. Infertility counseling may help you in coming to terms with your infertility diagnosis, communicating with your partner and deciding what steps to take next.
5. Infertility isn’t one partner’s problem.
Whether you’re dealing with male factor, female factor, unexplained or combined infertility issues, this condition doesn’t just affect one partner — it affects both of you. Pinpointing the cause of your issues to male factor infertility isn’t about “blaming” one partner; it’s about getting to the root of the problem so you can move forward with the family-building option that’s right for both of you.
Remember to communicate openly with your partner and support each other through this journey. It takes two (or more) to build a family, so you should both be on the same page when it comes to the next steps following an infertility diagnosis.
If you are considering surrogacy as a family-building option, or if you would like to learn more about moving from infertility to surrogacy, contact us today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).