“I have a confession to make…”
It’s always interesting when a conversation begins that way. And lately, I’ve been having a lot of those conversations. The American Fertility Association, through our Infertility Prevention education program and our Time of Need education program has been discussing male factor infertility on a consistent and increasing basis. And as a result, questions, concerns and confessions have been flowing in.
“Could I be the one responsible for us not getting pregnant?”
“I’m an athlete with a clean bill of health. I thought that was all that mattered.”
“I used to do drugs – heavy ones – but I’ve never shared this with my wife. What should I do?”
“Before I met my wife I had a lot of sex with a ton of women – and I never used a condom. I figured if she was on the pill that’s all I needed to worry about.”
“I work in a factory around a lot of solvents. Now I’m freaked out.”
“I use steroids to give me an edge – not all the time – just when I’m training. Should I be worried?”
“We know we need donor sperm to get pregnant, and I can’t handle it. What do I do now?”
Male factor is the sole cause or a contributing cause in at least 40% of all cases of infertility. Yet infertility is still primarily seen as a “woman’s disease.” In addition to this belief being inaccurate, it puts an enormous strain on a couple, particularly the female partner in the relationship.
What’s the result of shielding one’s self from education? Accurate diagnosis is delayed. Treatment is delayed. And in a small number of cases men may be overlooking one of the underlying causes of male factor infertility: cancer.
Our goal is to make men aware of the facts about male reproductive health, and to arm them with the knowledge that lifestyle changes, avoiding toxins such as recreational drugs, preventing STD’s, staying away from steroids, and performing a simple self-check for testicular cancer are things that will contribute greatly to their overall health.
So what’s different? The approach will be from a completely fresh perspective- to protect the ability to father a child one day by aiming the messages at young men. The program has the opportunity to intervene before substantial damage is done or when the damage is reversible.
Our hope is that women will also be empowered with this information, and therefore couples will be able to have an honest conversation about the reality of reproductive health and family building, and be better equipped to deal – as a team – with any complications to becoming pregnant.
About The AFA
The American Fertility Association, a 501 (c) (3) national non-profit organization is a lifetime resource for infertility prevention, reproductive health and family building. AFA services and materials are provided free of charge to consumers and available to everyone without reservation. These services include an extensive online library, live monthly webinars, telephone and in-person coaching, a resource directory, hosted message boards, daily fertility news and a toll-free support line.
www.theafa.org or 888.917.3777.