Infertility is a serious problem in India. The National Family Health Survey (2015-2016) indicates a sharper fall in fertility amongst the urban population as compared to rural population. Interestingly both male and female partners are responsible for this decline, bursting the myth that infertility is a gender specific problem.
According to WHO, a study conducted on more than 8500 couples shows that the contribution of male factor to infertility is 51.2%. The problem of Male infertility may increase further given the lifestyle changes, like no physical workout, increased consumption of junk food and environmental factors such as pollution.
From a practical perspective, it is immensely difficult for men to talk about their infertility because of societal pressure, fear of rejection, regret, and shame. Unfortunately male infertility is often associated with diminished virility, and hence leads to an unwillingness and hesitation to seek help. It is often erroneously presumed that male infertility does not lead to emotional distress. A study reviewing the mental and psychological effects of infertility indicates that male infertility is also associated with problems of anxiety, isolation, self-blame, low self-esteem and inadequate sexual power. (M J & Khanghah, Fall,2003)
An appalling reality of Indian and most Asian societies is that reproduction is considered to be one of the fundamental goals of marriage and an inability to have children attracts negative social attention. Given the social stigma, opening up about infertility to a friend, partner, or other family members can be a daunting experience. Thus, not only is infertility a serious personal issue, but also a social one, and the lack of social support and understanding adds to the emotional distress.
The answer lies in providing information about the reasons for male infertility, availability of fertility treatments and spreading awareness about it’s social and psychological aspects. These measures will go a long way in fostering healthy and happy families.