Sage input from a reproductive expert.
When problems conceiving a child boil in a relationship, both men and women can be left feeling inadequate. For many couples, conceiving children is an important – if not existential – part of their relationship. When problems arise, if not handled in a positive, forward-thinking way, bigger problems can surface for any couple.
The worst thing that can happen is finger-pointing. The inability to conceive a child is no one’s “fault.” It is most healthy to look at it as another hurdle for the couple to overcome together: The issue isn’t “him vs. her,” but rather “us vs. it.”
It is an issue that can, almost universally, be overcome. To be sure, it may be highly unlikely for certain couples to conceive a child through sex. But with the right problem-solving attitude and some help from a specialist, what some may look at as a “relationship problem” can turn into an opportunity to strengthen the relationship together.
One of the most important things men can do in this journey is to accept that the problem for the couple may be low sperm count. That’s not pointing the finger at himself, that’s simply acknowledging that the issue may be in his own body, and that he may need some help from an expert (guys are often no good at asking for help).
Some men have a lot of trouble digesting that. We are raised in a culture that mandates men be macho and viral so they can get their girlfriends or wives pregnant easily. If they have trouble with that, self-image problems can rise easily.
One couple who came to me learned through tests that their conception complication was, in fact, low sperm count. While we had tried to map out a path toward solutions together, it affected his confidence and his manhood and created discontent between him and his wife that ultimately ruined the marriage within five years.
That kind of stress can actually become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as severe or prolonged emotional stress can create hormone issues that – of course – lead to more problems for the body to produce sperm.
I’ve also had patients who have handled the circumstances very well. Instead of letting the issue eat at their personal identity, they view their low sperm count as a dilemma for them to overcome. They choose to become part of the solution. Sometimes they have even gotten highly creative in the process.
I had one patient recently who had a particularly low sperm count. We laid out several steps he and his wife could take to conceive a child despite the complication.
“I’m going to tackle this,” he said to me in my office, convinced he could and would find a solution. He did some reading on the Internet and decided that his low sperm count was because of electromagnetic waves from his laptop computer and his cell phone being in his pocket near his testicles.
So he went on a three-month “cleanse.” He never sat his computer on his lap, and he carried his phone in his hand, never in the front pocket of his pants. He kept all electronics away from his testicles for three months.
When he returned to my office three months later, his sperm count had drastically – and quite surprisingly – risen!
His approach to the issue was an incredibly healthy one. He decided he was not going to feel defeated about it, and instead took control of the situation. He and his wife now have a fantastic chance of conceiving children through sex. And if that doesn’t work, they will explore other fertility options together with a great attitude.
Ultimately, of course, there may not be an easy remedy. Not every guy can move his phone to his jacket pocket and see a sudden increase in sperm count. The two keys for any couple having difficulty conceiving children are to 1) seek the help of a fertility specialist and 2) keep positive attitudes throughout the process.
While those two things may not be easy for some guys, they can be paramount to building a family – and keeping the family together – for so many couples.