Gender aspects of male perception and attitudes to own infertility, its treatment and ART usage in Russia

Nina E. Rusanova, Russian Academy of Sciences
Olga G. Isupova, Higher School of Economics, Moscow

The paper is concerned with the life experiences of infertile men and their female partners going through male infertility treatment. The study is based on the netnography research of Internet-community of Russian women having the experience of being partners of men with reproductive health problems. Many people find the best support they can receive in the Internet communities. However, it is not at all the case with infertile men in Russia. They almost never share their experiences concerning stated health condition with other men in similar life situation in the web. On the other hand, their female partners do so often, and unite on the special sites in order to discuss the problems of their men. Although there is evidence that male reproductive health state in Russia is problematic, there is no country-wide data concerning its incidence. It is possible to make some evaluations only using the data on those who address reproductive clinics. Among them, male factor of infertility is found in no less than 35% of cases. However, men are unlikely and unwilling to recur to the treatment themselves. Most often, as this study reveals, their health matters, including these of their reproductive health, become responsibility of their female partners, while males withdraw from any activity related to this. Being based on traditional idea of “real man who cannot have any weaknesses”, this practice however implies not only additional burden for women (of resolving infertility, which is not their own), but also weakening of men, who culturally are forbidden to actively do something about their infertility, and even to speak about it or even admit it. Further study is needed in order to understand whether it is possible to improve this situation.

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Presented in Session 111: Male identity and sexuality