Working in partnership with Fertility Network UK, Dr Esmée Hanna, a researcher in the Centre for Health Promotion Research at Leeds Beckett, and Professor Brendan Gough, Director of Research in the School of Social Sciences, want men to share their experiences of fertility problems, and how they have been affected by infertility, by taking part in a qualitative questionnaire.
Dr Hanna explained: “It is suggested that infertility affects one in six couples within the UK; however, relatively little research on fertility issues focuses on men’s experiences. When men’s views of infertility have been sought, they have often been framed via, or complementary to, women’s perspectives.
“We are conducting this new research to find out more about how men understand, experience and cope with fertility issues. The responses we receive will be analysed and publicised to raise awareness of men’s needs. We will also present our findings to health professionals so that men’s concerns are taken on board in advice and support settings for infertility.”
Susan Seenan, Chief Executive of Fertility Network UK, said: “Men matter too. They are half of the fertility equation, yet far too often their voices are not heard. This online survey is a chance for that to change; we hope it will result in men being able to access the fertility support and advice they need in the most appropriate way for them.”
The anonymous and confidential questionnaire involves answering a number of open questions about men’s experiences of infertility. Volunteers can write as little or as much as they like and they do not have to answer any questions which they do not want to. Only the research team will have access to the data from the survey.
Recent research by Dr Hanna and Professor Gough, published in the Journal of Health Psychology, into the use of online forums by men experiencing infertility, showed that initiatives to help men facing infertility should make use of such online forums and offer remote, anonymous support as well as contact with peers who have shared their experiences. A second study, published in Health journal, examined the emotions displayed by men facing infertility issues when using an online forum and showed that, although men often lack ‘emotional spaces’ to work through their feelings, they are emotionally expressive and willing to seek support.