Men’s Infertility: Are we sweeping it under the carpet?

The impact of the patriarchal structure that our society so vehemently defends has much more drastic consequences than what meets the eye. In India, childlessness in any married couple is easily assumed as being a woman’s fault. They are declared infertile without the couple even going through any medical examination. As the woman involved bears the brunt for failing to conceive a baby, she undergoes emotional trauma and severe depression facing the tirade of the entire family. Moreover, based on the self-proclaimed fact, the man obtains the divine right to marry another woman, who, subsequently, fails to conceive either. By the time one realises that the cause of childlessness is due to male infertility, two women have already fallen prey to the hideous social structure. Crushed underneath the apathy of society over the raging issue, lies a screaming question, “why is there a deafening silence over male infertility in India?”

The inadequacies or limitations of men have long been hushed up to put women in a spot. It was not long ago when a woman used to face disgust and humiliation for giving birth to a girl child. Apart from gender discrimination and misogyny, the misconception caused a sense of low self-esteem in women and also paved the way for social exclusion of these innocent mothers. They were deprived of even the very basic necessities forcing them to finally end their life. It was not until recently that factors leading to sex determination of the child in the womb were traced to men. It has become vital to develop a sense of awareness in order to free women from such prejudices in the present and to shield them against the same in the future.

It is believed that nearly 15% of the Indian population suffers from some form of infertility. Research in fact indicates that India has witnessed a 20-30% surge in infertility cases in the past 5 years. The volume of people affected by it sums up to be more than 150 million. It was revealed in the ‘Challenges in Infertility Management (CIIM) 2014’ summit that cases of male infertility now contribute to 60% of couples remaining childless, a sharp contrast to 40% in 1980. One of the reasons attributed to this rise is the increase of pesticide usage in the agricultural sector. Apparently, the society has also become less orthodox as compared to the ‘80s, which has enabled more individuals to admit their shortcomings with a high degree of responsibility.This probably indicates the reason for the higher acknowledgement in the recent past. The common causes for male infertility are hormonal imbalances, tobacco smoking, alcohol, caffeine, varicocele, damage of sperm ducts, improper diet, overly intense exercising, illness, infections and drug abuse. As many of these factors are applicable to a large portion of the country’s male demography, it is easily assumable that male fertility scales to a higher level than reported.

The reason why male infertility cases largely go unnoticed is the social stigma attached to one’s manhood. As it directly affects the masculinity of individuals and their social position, a person with this health condition adamantly refuses to get diagnosed, let alone be treated, to avoid the apparent humiliation. Our society has been structured in a way that any flaw in a man has to be ignored as he is the bread winner and ultimate authoritarian of the house. This orthodox approach has to be eliminated from the society as it hurts the male gender more than causing harm to others. Owing to social pressure, men are forced to suppress their feelings and emotions which in turn also have an adverse effect on their emotional well-being. We should rather adopt an evolved approach while dealing with such issues to make it evident that the Indian society has become advanced, not just in terms of technology and economically, but also as a civilization. Rather than talking about gender equality, our actions should reflect it more than our words. After all, male infertility is not something that needs to be shunned or looked down upon and all it needs is to be treated as a medical disorder instead of getting correlated with masculinity.

So for all couples trying to get pregnant it’s time to break the silence. It’s time to address the problem – meet your doctor , get tested along with your partner and accept the truth. This definitely makes it easier for us to treat you thus increasing your chances to have children and complete your family.

It’s time to go beyond helping in laundry .. it’s time to share the load.

Source: ET Health World