According to our literature analysis, there are no data focused on spermatozoa emotional representations in childless men and data on the emotional repercussions of a diagnosis of infertility on men are still scarce. Thus, in this work, we investigated what the presence or absence of spermatozoa in the semen symbolize for men.
Material and methods
To answer this question, 441 childless heterosexual men participated in an anonymous, prospective, Internet-based survey.
In response to the question “What would having a high or normal sperm count symbolize for you?” the most frequent answer was “ability to father a child”. Men living with a partner were significantly more likely than single men to answer “ability to father a child” (p < 0.05) and less likely to answer “virility” and/or “ability to have an erection/ejaculation” (p = 0.001). In response to the question “If you found out that you had a low sperm count or no spermatozoa at all, how would you feel?”, most of the men stated that they would be disappointed. Men living with a partner were more likely to state that they would feel ashamed (p < 0.05) or guilty with regard to their partner (p < 0.0001).
These preliminary results should help us to improve (i) the way that male infertility is announced (it is easier to find the right words if one understands the possible importance of having a high sperm count) and (ii) the psychological, marital and sexual counselling provided to men with a diagnosis of infertility.