Male-Factor Infertility: The Process to Seeking Treatment

Friday, 28 July 2017

Michele Mayes Lawson, PhD
Nursing Administration, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, Spartanburg, SC, USA


The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of the process that adult males go through from deciding to conceive to seeking treatment for male-factor infertility.

Methods:  Approval to conduct the research was obtained from the Institutional Review Board of Texas Woman’s University and the Greenville Health System University Medical Center Office of Research Compliance and Administration Institutional Review Board. Appropriate measures were taken to protect human participants. Participants signed a written consent form. A qualitative design utilizing grounded theory was used. Participants were identified and recruited from the fertility center. Participants were in the process of seeking treatment with assisted reproductive technology (ART). A physician contacted some men and invited them to participate in the study and others volunteered after their wives saw a recruitment flyer. Semi-structured, audio-taped interviews were conducted with 10 participants in a private setting.


The participants ranged in age from 27 to 39 years old, with a mean age of 32.7 years old. Their partners’ reported ages ranged from 26 to 38 years old, with a mean age of 32.4 years old at the time of the interview. The participants reported their race as: Caucasian, 70% (n=7); African American, 20% (n=2); and Asian, 10% (n=1). Interview transcripts were analyzed using Constant Comparative Analysis techniques.

Findings include categories such as Just Having Fun, Realization that Something Could be Wrong, Influenced to Go, Testing for the Female, Testing for the Male, Finding Out, Who was there for you?, Seeking Information, What’s the Next Step, Taking a Break, Financial Impacts, Cultural Impacts, and Hindsight. The process of male-factor infertility: seeking treatment follows a varying timeline. For some participants the timeline was short and for others the timeline was stretched out. A greater understanding of the process and the factors which speed up or slow down the time to the next step is important for helping men with male-factor infertility and their partners navigate through the jungle of infertility and seeking treatment. Time, financial/cost, and culture all have an input into the process from beginning to end. Decision-making for each step is impacted by these categories.

Conclusion:  By understanding the process to Seeking Treatment for Male-Factor Infertility, nurses will be able to make a positive impact to decrease the time it takes for men to seek treatment or even assist with navigation of the process by providing valuable information about finances, the big picture and next steps in the plan, resources for information gathering that is specific to each man’s circumstances.