The impact of male infertility on health, wellness, and productivity

Young couple outdoors with a baby

Much of what is written about infertility focuses on women, but men also experience infertility, and they go through similar emotional journeys. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine reports that infertility is evenly split between male and female factors – both represent about 30% of infertility, with the remaining third either a combination of both or unexplained.1

Infertility doesn’t discriminate based on gender, race, religion, or economic status, and no two journeys are the same. A couple’s path to parenthood can become even more difficult when patients and their partners don’t receive the clinical guidance and emotional support they need.

An Infertility Diagnosis

An infertility diagnosis can be scary whether it’s expected or not. It’s not uncommon for patients to experience shock, denial, and embarrassment if the diagnosis is unexpected. If it is expected, however, because of the result of medical treatment like chemotherapy, an occupational hazard, or a familial genetic pattern, there is often guilt and shame. This can be heightened if the female partner needs to go through fertility treatment with no infertility diagnosis herself. Findings indicate that men perceive infertility, particularly an abnormal semen analysis, as both a threat to future fatherhood as well as an emotional loss.2 3

The Emotional Journey

Even if only one partner is diagnosed with an infertility factor, they are on the journey together. Both can experience these common symptoms that impact their personal and professional lives.

  • Insomnia: Many surveys find that 75% of women and 58% of men lose sleep when they are stressed by situations they can’t predict or control. A loss of sleep can translate to a lack of alertness in the workplace.4
  • Anxiety/Panic: Research finds women have higher rates of diagnosis for these stress symptoms than men and may be more distracted at work.5
  • Increased alcohol consumption: Men are more likely to use alcohol to cope with stress and negative emotions. This may mean increased absenteeism and reduced productivity in the workplace while going through fertility treatments.6
  • Stress-triggered depression: Men tend to have a vulnerability to stress-triggered depression. This can cause them to overthink stressful events and become distressed when they can’t find a solution. Research indicates that men also resist asking for help during this vulnerable time.7

The Progyny Difference

At Progyny, we know the road to parenthood can be challenging. Our fertility solutions ensure employers receive the most value from their fertility benefit by enabling members and physicians to focus on outcomes and pursue the most effective treatment — the first time.

Our dedicated Patient Care Advocates (PCAs) provide unlimited clinical guidance and emotional support during every step of the journey for members and their partners. For men, who typically do not have support groups for this health issue, this is often their only opportunity to talk about male factor infertility. PCAs are trusted resources who provide information, education, and support. From billing to second opinions, to discussing confusing protocols and conflicting emotions, PCAs are available to offer Progyny resources and educate members about relevant employer resources, including their EAP.

This, coupled with a premier provider network and access to the latest technology, ensures members have access to all treatment options necessary to achieve the best outcome – a successful and healthy pregnancy.

Make dreams of parenthood become a reality with Progyny’s comprehensive family building solution.

  1. ASRM: ↩︎
  2. ASRM: ↩︎
  3. ASRM: ↩︎
  4. APA: ↩︎
  5. Gender Differences in Anxiety Disorders: Prevalence, Course of Illness, Comorbidity and Burden of Illness J Psychiatry Res. 2011 Aug; 45(8): 1027–1035. Published online 2011 Mar 25. Carmen P. McLean, Anu Asnaani, Brett T. Litz, and Stefan G. Hofmann) ↩︎
  6. Gender Differences in Response to Emotional Stress: An Assessment Across Subjective, Behavioral, and Physiological Domains and Relations to Alcohol Craving Nolen-Hoeksema and Harrell, 2002; Park and Levenson, 2002, Tara M. Chaplin, Kwangik Hong, Keri Bergquist, and Rajita Sinha. ↩︎
  7. The Conversation: ↩︎