Monday 7 November 2011

How Men and Women react differently to Infertility and its Treatment

Studies have shown (not surprisingly) that men and women react differently to infertility. Women are more open with their emotions and have been on record as perceiving infertility as the most upsetting event of their lives and show their vulnerability more openly than men. These feelings are more pronounced in women belonging to cultures where motherhood is perceived as the main role of women in the family.

Men are more reserved with their feelings, although this does not mean to that they do not feel the loss of the status of fatherhood as keenly. Although some studies suggest that women get more distressed at loss of motherhood, others indicate that both men and women find infertility equally distressing. Men however are more reserved about displaying emotions and less affected by treatment. However as the brunt of infertility and its treatment is largely borne by women, most of the strategies today for coping with the stress and trauma of infertility is targeted towards women, men are left bereft of the benefits of counseling groups and
other standardized measures of tackling stress.

However, when the male partner is the main reason for infertility in the couple, men show significantly higher levels of stress, as virility (and procreation) is valued very strongly by men and infertility is viewed as a challenge to manhood. As regards approach to treatment, men prefer a pragmatic and a problem solving approach whereas women like more to share their emotional reactions.

Life without offspring has different implications for men and women. The role of women is very strongly intertwined with motherhood. Also, as a woman ages and goes through the gamut of marriage, pregnancy, delivery and motherhood, her social life alters. As all other women among her friends in her age group go through these same roles in near about the same timeframes, their focus in life changes together. The quality of friendship is impacted as common topics and interests become scarcer. Many infertile women end up losing contact or isolating themselves from women who have children. Men, being the breadwinners of he family changes little, whether they have children or not.

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