The Emasculation of Male Infertility 

This has been a tough year.  I’m now more aware of why I feel the way I do.  The unusual part of the way I feel is that I’ve started to have feelings of being less than a man.  These aren’t feelings I had felt last year or the year before.  I’m not sure why I feel this way now when I had not felt that way before.

First let me admit that I’m not what you would consider a “manly” man.  I’m short at Five Feet Four inches (162 cm) and skinny.  I’ve never been coordinated which is why I’ve engaged in sports like swimming and running that don’t require much coordination.  When it comes to home improvements I’m completely inept. I’m what you would consider a “metrosexual” taking pride in my appearance.  I won’t go into the extent of my metrosexuality because it’s more information than you probably would be interested in, plus it’s embarrassing.  But then again the idea of not being able to conceive a child with your spouse is kinda embarrassing.

What differentiates a man from a woman genetically is the Y Chromosome.  For me I’m missing pieces of that Y Chromosome.  Specifically I am missing pieces of the Y Chromosome that is responsible for sperm production.  When you are someone who doesn’t feel manly to begin with infertility completely emasculates you.  I won’t go into the other embarrassing ways infertility has emasculated me but I will say that there are times I wish I was born a woman so the lack of sperm wasn’t an issue.

The emasculation that infertility has left me has me down on myself as a man and as a person.  The idea that “A real man wouldn’t have these issues” has entered my head.  I’m not saying that all infertile men should feel this way or that they aren’t real men.  What I am saying is how my infertility has emasculated me.  

Infertility has that impact on people.  Whatever vulnerabilities, weaknesses or wounds left from trauma earlier in a person’s life is amplified.  Not being a “manly” man to begin with left me vulnerable for me to be emasculated by infertility.  Having the parts of a male but lacking the ingredients seems kind of pointless.  It’s like the parts I have are there for decoration and serve no purpose.  

But maybe the reason I was born without the missing pieces of my Y Chromosome has something to do with me not being a “manly” man.  Who knows?  The only thing I know is that my infertility has emasculated me. 

 

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13 thoughts on “The Emasculation of Male Infertility 

  1. Sondra

    Sending strength. There has been so many times I feel like less of a woman because I can’t do what all other women can do- carry a child. IF is so unfair. I get some of these feelings and I think this is a very brave post.

    Reply
  2. Healing Writuals

    I understand these feelings. Being less than a woman… I’m so sorry you’re feeling this way. It’s hard. ((hugs))
    Something that came to mind as I read this post was I’d love to read a post about your view/definition of “manly” or masculinity. Truly. I think it’s an important perspective.

    Reply
  3. kiftsgate

    I have always been proud of having managed to get a really stressful and highly technical job. I have what you could call a man’s job (I am the only woman in my team and work on maths and programming). Infertility has made me less proud about it as I feel like it’s thanks to my manly hormones instead of my efforts. It’s a big deal for me as I worked so hard to get where I am in my career..
    I won’t even start on my relationship with my body as I’ll end up writing a whole post myself but I do feel less of a woman and have been told many times I am not a girly girl (can’t do make up, nails, hair, clothes.. i would be happy if I could just wear sports clothes all the time. ..).
    Hugs!

    Reply
  4. clwalchevill

    Can easily emphasize. Infertility magnifies underlying fears. I remember being younger and feeling ugly and unlovable. I was told I wasn’t a nurturer, too. I truly believed I would never marry and live my life alone. Infertility exacerbated this. It was proof I wasn’t suppose to have a family because I was such an unlovable and horrible person. After all, if I wasn’t I would be able to become pregnant.

    I won’t attempt to disprove any of your fears. But I will say I can relate. And I’m so sorry that you are feeling less because of something you have no control over. It’s unfair and sucks.

    Reply
  5. Mali

    I think we can all relate. I wrote a post a few years ago about cringing when on safari. http://nokiddinginnz.blogspot.co.nz/2012/11/the-barren-aunt.html There was a barren (not my word for her) lioness, and the ranger theorised that her “problem” was that she had too much testosterone, because she was a very big lion. (She was so beautiful!) I cringed because I was barren, and I am also big. I’m tall for a woman (not exceptionally, but still, usually taller than almost all the women I knew – except my sister and one friend), and I’m not svelte, I have strong shoulders and big bones (hands, feet etc). It’s probably all in proportion, but I’ve never felt petite and feminine. And I grew up on a farm, and was a bit of a tomboy – until I discovered reading. I was never into dolls, for example! So I certainly get what you’re saying.

    Still, I think you need to practice refuting these thoughts you have, too. Because, even though I have felt this way – and still can at times – I refuse to accept that I am less of a woman, just because I can’t have children. Feeling something isn’t necessarily the same as believing it. And by refuting it, even when I feel it, it makes it easier to stop feeling it. (I hope that makes sense?)

    It just makes me so mad! We all – men and women – suffer from these societal stereotypes that tell us who we should be, and what we should look like. And they’re just wrong!

    Reply
  6. Jane

    Mali thanks for a good response – feel so sorry for everyone who feels less than because of IF. I’m 6ft and have considered myself girly as I love make up and stuff. However, didn’t stop me feeling less than against all women and even last after men for 20 years. I have been working on the difference between feeling and believeing and tell myself regularly that I am worthy. It takes alot however to change this engrained feeling of inadequacy – men and women alike are bombarded from childhood to follow sterotypes and told their lives only mean something when they reproduce. My husband is 5ft 6, we have both suffered teasing (from our freinds!). All I can say is – he is a far bigger man than any of the men in his circle of friends – he’s pulled me up from depths of sadness and back into now on so many occasions – he inspires me to keep reciting “we are not less than” and he is the geatest and most caring man I have ever known. The true mark of a man – to see someone from the inside. We both love Avatar movie, “I see you” is a good watch. Funny, thinking about it – I cut the grass and put the bins out every week, my husband shops and prepares and cooks all our meals. Yet I see him as the strong manly type – because he is so supportive of me and encouraging and he believes I am capable. He is currently teaching me Trigonometry at age 47yrs – I’ve had a hang up about my education from childhood and he said its not too late to learn! The concept of trig is tough to get your head around (having been a PA and typist all my life), but it is no where near as complex as I had first thought and I am now solving simple problems on my own (with a calculator I hasten to add), I think my husband feels good too, having been able to explain it to me – which wasn’t easy, we nearly fell out a few times!

    Reply
    1. Mali

      Jane, I love this! You’re so right. I look at my husband, and what he does for me, what he does for his parents, how he’s coped with disappointment, and if you ask me he is a far better man – more of a man as a result – than some of his brothers, who are selfish and … well, I won’t continue, but you get the idea!

      Reply
  7. The EcoFeminist

    The cultural constructs of what defines “masculinity” and “femininity” are so destructive to both genders. Somehow warm & tender means it comes from a woman? Or that strong and providing for the family means it comes from a woman? It’s such bullshit, you know? That’s something our culture and the media have pushed upon us, NOT reality. Remember that. Your sperm not working doesn’t make you any less of a good human than my eggs having vacated my ovaries.

    And I gotta say, the word “emasculate” always has pissed me off because by saying it, it implies that one is more like a woman than a man, and that to be more like a woman is a very, very bad thing. A great post to explain what I mean: https://uppitywoman08.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/fears-of-emasculation-would-disappear-if-men-could-just-accept-that-they-are-not-superior-to-women/). This is not attacking you but rather our culture that uses the terms “throw like a girl” and “girlie man” and such as insults. So in recognizing that a physical weakness does not make one less of a good person or a good partner (we are always hardest on ourselves in ways we’d never be to our friends and family, don’t you agree?), then we can forgive our imperfections and move forward. It’s a hard thing to do but ultimately will save our sanity and yes, teach us something about what it really means to be a human rather than feel like we must abide by society’s gender definitions.

    PS – Here’s another article that might be of interest relating to masculinity/femininity, etc. : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rhoda-jordan/the-problem-with-masculinity_b_5589380.html.

    Reply

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