How does stress and emotional health affect men addressing fertility challenges? Men may not talk about it much, but let’s be honest, fertility problems are stressful for both partners. While a lot of attention is placed on how infertility affects a woman’s emotional health, very little research explores how men are feeling. A recent study suggests men, like women, have a lot to process as they work through a fertility issue.
The study: A 2017 study conducted by the University of Michigan found a third of men experienced increased levels of stress and embarrassment related to infertility. A small number of men also reported lower libido associated with semen collection.
Supporting Emotional Health on a Male Fertility Program
Similar to women, men may feel their self-worth is challenged or may feel embarrassed about a fertility problem. Further, diagnosis and treatment options can be invasive or awkward. If you’re going through this, it’s ok to take a moment to acknowledge that some days may be a drag. It’s perfectly fine and healthy to take a break to regroup from time to time.
Stress Relief Options for Male Fertility Health
Here are a few tips to help you stay positive and more relaxed while addressing a male fertility challenge.
- Keep up with regular exercise. Exercise relieves stress by promoting the natural production of “feel good” endorphin chemicals. Exercise can also increase testosterone production, ignite libido and sexual performance. Some research finds men have intercourse more often and report higher satisfaction when they exercise regularly.
- Go outside! Go on a hike, walk the dog or spend time on your favorite hobby. Getting some fresh air and space can help clear your mind. Take a few deep breaths whenever you feel stressed. The world will not crumble if you take some time out for you.
- Try an energizing shower if you’re feeling burned out. Use warm, not hot water (heat damages sperm) for your shower. For more energy, add a few drops of Lime, Orange or Bergamot essential oil (about 4 drops total) to a washcloth. Place the cloth on the shower floor. The oils will awaken your senses, and elevate your mood as they are hit with water and dispersed through the air.
- Stay positive. Explore your favorite stress relief options, and practice them regularly. Feeling good is a key to any healing process! Employ stress management techniques such as our Top 10 Mind and Body Therapies to Help With Fertility Stress. Easing your stress can also improve your hormonal balance and overall health.
If you’re facing a male fertility challenge, stay focused and encouraged. A nutrient dense diet and healthy lifestyle can go a long way towards improving most male fertility problems. Working with your doctor or Fertility Herbalist on your challenge areas is another good avenue for support.
As long as you’re making some sperm, you have a chance of fathering a child. However, if you’re not making sperm or responding to treatments, you can explore other options. Alternative paths to parenthood like using a sperm donor or adoption work well for some men. Focus on your short and long-term goals, and be easy on yourself in the process. Many infertile couples go on to have children through natural, medical or alternative approaches.
As you move forward, try not to take a fertility issue to heart. Your fertility is only one part of you, and it can often be improved!
- New Research Sheds Light on Men’s Stress From Infertility. (2017, Nov.). American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Retrieved from: http://www.asrm.org/news-and-publications/news-and-research/press-releases-and-bulletins/new-research-sheds-light-on-mens-stress-from-infertility/
- Landa, J. (2013, Sept.). How Working Out Can Improve Your Sex Life. Fox News. Retrieved from: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/09/09/how-working-out-can-improve-your-sex-life.html
- The Top Three Ways Exercise Improves Your Sex Drive. (2018). Fitness. Retrieved from: https://www.fitness.com/articl/1019/the_top_3_ways_exercise_boosts_your_sex_drive.php
- Personal correspondence with Marija Helt, Ph.D. on Male Fertility