"I feel like only half a man": Online Forums as a Resource for Finding a "New Normal" for Men Experiencing Fertility Issues

Dilisha Patel, Ann Blandford, Mark Warner, J Shawe, J Stephenson
in Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction (PACMHCI), Journal article


Infertility can place a significant burden on couples and individuals when trying to conceive. Approximately 20-30% of all cases of infertility are due to male-related factors. Whatever the cause of difficulty in conceiving, little is known about how men find support when dealing with fertility issues, or when or how online resources are being used. This paper reports on a qualitative study of anonymous online posts (N=603) from forums related to fertility that are used by men. We analysed this data using thematic analysis to understand how men are using online forums as a resource when experiencing fertility issues.
We found that online forums play a valued role in facilitating connections between men experiencing an often stigmatised condition. These forums offer men accessible and private spaces which allow for more open discussion, helping them to make sense of their situation. We discuss our findings in relation to Genuis and Bronstein's model of finding a "new normal" and present our elaborated model of finding a "new normal" in the context of experiencing fertility problems.