Male Involvement in Reproductive Health
Reproductive health is the well-being of your physical, mental, and social states as they connect to the reproductive system and its functions, according to the WHO.
Although this topic is relevant to anyone with a reproductive system, the NIH asserts that “too often, males have been overlooked in discussions of reproductive health,” reminding us that we usually fixate only on the female condition while leaving male health completely out of the equation.
What are the impacts of ignoring male involvement in reproductive health?
Failing to consider the importance of male involvement in reproductive health represents a massive cross-cultural mistake with globally damaging implications. Unfavorable male reproductive health generally leads to:
· Detrimental overarching male health.
· Decreased female reproductive health.
· Widespread challenges to pediatric wellness.
· Other negative societal impacts across future generations.
As a recent article from the Human Reproduction Open Journal reminds us, “male infertility is a global health problem,” as approximately 40–50% of all infertility cases are due to male factor infertility. Studies also show that men are far more likely to transmit STIs/STDs than women.
This urges us to recognize that ignoring male reproductive health constitutes a dismissal of serious health issues, which can have far-reaching adverse effects ranging from increased miscarriage rates to augmented mortality rates across an entire society.
Why should we address male involvement in reproductive health as a society?
By addressing male reproductive health issues, we can mitigate the aforementioned adverse impacts. We can also increase the chances of sexually active people in minority populations having “a satisfying and safe sex life,” “the capability to reproduce,” and “the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so,” conditions the WHO references as markers of good reproductive health.
And the effects of addressing societal male reproductive health extend far beyond just sexual health and even beyond public health entirely. Working to break down some barriers men face when seeking to improve their reproductive health can also improve attitudes towards sex, gender roles, and family planning while helping communities expand economically and evolve culturally.
What are the obstacles men must overcome when it comes to reproductive health?
● Powerful gender norms suggest that only female reproductive health is important.
● Socio-cultural assumptions and stigmas about masculinity, strength, and “toughness” dissuade men from seeking help for medical conditions.
● Lack of funding and research surrounding male reproductive health.
● The absence of available male contraceptives and family-planning options is even more pronounced in developing foreign countries (such as The Philippines and Uganda) and in underserved domestic populations (such as Black and Latinx communities).
● Lack of awareness or education about male reproductive health issues and the impacts resulting from that ignorance, including the widespread neglect of reproductive health on an individual level.
How can I improve my personal reproductive health?
You can optimize your own reproductive health by practicing preventative healthcare through activities such as attending routine reproductive health and STI/STD checks at least once a year and adopting healthy habits (i.e., exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, drinking ample amounts of water, etc.)
Avoiding or quitting tobacco products, excessive amounts of alcohol, opioids, testosterone-heavy products, and certain foods is also shown to improve male reproductive health.
Other ways to keep your reproductive system in tip-top shape include reducing stress and maintaining your overall mental well-being.