Trying to Conceive Can Stress Men Out

October 27, 2014

New research: it’s common for the male partner in infertile couples to experience stress and sexual dysfunction during their partner’s fertile period.

The pressure of trying to conceive after many months of failing to conceive can take its toll on the male partner in infertile couples.

According to research presented at the 70th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Honolulu, HI, it’s not uncommon for men to experience acute stress and sexual dysfunction during the partner’s fertile period.

South Korean researchers interviewed the male partners of 236 couples seeking infertility care or evaluation about their sexual function, use of erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs and their stress levels related to timed intercourse during the partner’s fertile period. They also had a physical examination, a semen analysis and a hormone profile. Men that had no sperm, low testosterone levels, an underlying chronic disease or that were exposed to gonadotoxins were excluded from the study.

The researchers reported that about half the men in the study experienced some degree of erectile dysfunction (42% reported mild ED and 9% reported mild-to-moderate ED) and that sexual relationship stress scores were significantly higher during the fertile period as compared to the non-fertile period. Only 6% reported using drugs for ED treatment during the fertile period.

Paul J. Turek, MD, FACS, President for the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, commented that this research was the start of quantifying this “well-recognized phenomenon” in men.

“Men can feel a lot of pressure to perform when sex is ‘scheduled’ during fertile periods. And this stress is compounded by the underlying stress of infertility and the recurring disappointment of trying and failing to conceive month after month. Men should be reassured that it’s normal to feel stressed under these circumstances and there is nothing wrong with taking drugs to address erectile dysfunction,” said Turek.