From adulthood, Ridley goldman’s large T-shirt always set off his body to be strong and sexy. As a fitness enthusiast, he knows that a steady stream of mild protein, strength training and steroids can make his muscles blossom perfectly. However, in the past six months, this professional health and nutrition consultant from Los Angeles has watched the muscles that were once hard and brought infinite self-confidence become soft and narrow bit by bit.
“I completely collapsed a few weeks ago because the clothes I used to wear were too big now and I could only buy smaller ones.” He said. He put on his old shirt to show his wife Brittany. The clothes were fat, big and baggy. They were no longer tightly wrapped around his strong muscles as before. “I shook my head and she said nothing.” Goldman said he knew she also saw changes in herself.
Goldman is 30 years old and has been taking steroids since he was 18. He also heard that the drug would affect fertility-steroids would stop testosterone from secreting naturally. But like most men, he doesn’t care about having children, and only worries when he can’t have children. Now he and his wife are preparing for pregnancy. Although he stopped taking steroids two years ago, the drugs have already caused damage to his body.
In March 2018, Goldman conducted sperm quality analysis. Examination results showed that his sperm count was zero. “This is like bad news to us.” He began to take drugs to treat infertility in order to restore normal testicular function. But three months later, the sperm count was still zero. He began to inject testosterone artificially because his body could no longer secrete it naturally, but doctors advised him to stop testosterone injection so that infertility drugs could play a better role. Today, his sperm count is slowly rising, but his sexual desire and ability have disappeared along with his 30 pounds of muscle. Where he had no fat before, he now has fat and even his chest is plump. He fell into depression.
Now on Goldman’s social account, he has removed many photos with half-naked upper body and replaced them with photos in long-sleeved clothes. But nobody knows what he is like now except his wife. “I have more than 10,000 fans in Instagram and they don’t know anything about my changes.”
No matter when and where, infertility is almost always considered to be a problem with women, and they are often under pressure and become the accused party. In the end, unless women are finally pregnant, they will become the object of long-term rejection. And no matter which side has reproductive diseases, it will always be the female body that is treated and changed. For example, the well-known “test tube baby”-in vitro fertilization, the man only needs to extract sperm, and other complicated, delicate and painful tasks are completed by women, such as injection of synthetic hormone, blood test and ultrasound examination, etc.
In the United States, men are always absent from public discussions on infertility. Even men who have sought or are seeking medical help are unwilling to admit that they are facing this problem.
However, case statistics show that half of the infertile families are unable to conceive due to some reasons of the male partner. Now, more and more men are willing to discuss this topic, but people still keep it secret, especially in the United States. In the United States, men are always absent from public discussions on infertility. Even men who have sought or are seeking medical help are unwilling to admit that they are facing this problem. “I think I must be a typical’ muscular man’ in your heart,” Goldman said. “I have tattoos and muscles, and I stick to fitness. But I have no fertility. How many “macho men” with the same masculinity as me are in the same boat with me? ”
Some men, such as goldman, know why they are infertile. One of the most common causes is varicocele: abnormal growth, expansion and entanglement of venous plexus in scrotum lead to testicular temperature rise and eventually lead to sperm dysfunction. Generally speaking, the disease can be treated by surgery. In addition, steroids and some drugs for alopecia, like obesity, are also common inducements that affect male fertility. Recent studies have shown that the quality of male sperm, like that of female eggs, decreases with age, so age is also a major factor in male infertility.
However, there are still many cases of male infertility that are idiopathic, i.e. the cause of the disease is not clear and doctors do not know. It may be related to genetic or other health factors, or it may also be related to the environment. Scientists have integrated many potential factors that may affect fertility in their research, such as diet, alcohol, air pollution, stress, pesticide residues, compounds in plastic products, and even the wearing habit of underwear, i.e. wearing narrow and tight briefs instead of boxers, in an attempt to find out which factors have the greatest impact. The announcement of this answer is also full of urgency. A research and analysis report published in 2017 in the journal Frontiers of Human Reproductive Medicine points out that the number of sperm of men in western countries has decreased by more than 50% in less than 40 years.
James cassani An, Ph.D. in urology, Cornell Medical College, Wilshire, new york, noticed in a three-year study that the number of men willing to face up to this problem has increased. In the past, if a couple could not conceive, both parties would first think it was the woman’s problem and choose to “start” the woman first and directly perform “test tube baby” (IVF, in vitro fertilization) or intrauterine insemination (IUI, in vivo insemination, i.e. injecting sperm directly into the woman’s uterus), regardless of the fact that the man may have a problem. Dr. cassani An said: “At present, doctors, patients and couples are paying more and more attention to male factors in infertility. They are all eager to find the answer.”
When men learn of the doctor’s diagnosis and leave in frustration, their hearts are often filled with guilt: because they are the original killers whose wives cannot conceive and have to endure a series of pains in order to become pregnant; Shame also arises: because they do not have the most common and basic human reproduction ability. They will also feel lonely: they feel that they are the only ones in this situation.
Aime Hannah, a researcher on male infertility at De Montfort University in the UK, said: “People have always believed that men never worry about being unable to have children or having no children. This is not correct.” In a 2017 survey, Hannah and her research team surveyed 41 men about the impact of infertility on their lives: 93% of them believed that infertility had a negative impact on their overall quality of life and self-esteem. At the same time, discussions on related topics are gradually increasing. Men are completely depressed due to infertility, often feel lonely, full of anxiety about the future without children and women, and sometimes even commit suicide. However, about 40% of them will not seek outside support and help.
For women, infertility is still a private topic. However, women can choose to join some mutual aid groups, online forums or Facebook groups with the same diseases. However, although 12% of men aged 25 to 44 in the United States suffer from infertility, there are very few mutual aid groups related to male infertility, both online and offline. For example, the most popular Facebook men’s group “Male Fertility Assistance” doubled in size in 2017, but the total number was less than 1,000.
Andy Hansen, a 33-year-old X-ray technician who lives outside St. Louis, is one of them. In 2015, he learned that his sperm was scarce due to varicocele. After the surgery, his sperm count began to rise slowly. However, after five years of repeated attempts, a total of five rounds of “test tube baby”, in-vivo insemination and two miscarriages, he and his wife still failed to give birth to a baby. “My wife and I took turns to be’ targets of criticism,'” he said. “We all know what we will face if we fail.”
Although 12% of men aged 25 to 44 in the United States suffer from infertility, there are very few mutual aid groups related to male infertility, both online and offline.
Later they began to participate in the clinic’s mutual aid activities, hoping to meet couples in the same situation as them, but Hansen recalled that there were few men participating in the activities. He also tried to join an infertility group on Facebook, which has 20,000 members. “There are still few men, maybe only one or two.” He said.
In the end, he found the “male fertility assistance” group. There, he was able to comfort and offer advice to other male compatriots, appreciate each other. “It’s exhausting to keep this matter deep in my heart.” Hansen said. However, he noted that most of the members of the “male fertility assistance” team are from Britain, “American men always show their rock-solid attitude.” He said.
“The masculinity in the hearts of Americans Now, men need to be strong in body, independent in personality and economy, and above all, have stronger ability as men. “Liberty Barnes said that he is a medical sociologist and the author of” Gestating Masculinity: Male Sterility, Medicine and Self-Cognition “published in 2014. “If you cannot get your wife pregnant, you will involuntarily compare yourself with other men and then feel inferior.”
“But when faced with the problem of infertility, people’s definition of masculinity has also undergone subtle changes.” Barnes said. In her book, she recorded her interviews with 24 American couples, once when her husband had just been diagnosed with infertility and once two years after the diagnosis. “You will find that when describing their experiences, husbands will try their best to’ improve them’ and the definition of masculinity has changed. Barnes said, “husbands will emphasize that they are’ good husbands’ and their efforts and preparations to be’ good fathers’. “In order to become fathers, many of them do not hesitate to endure all kinds of hardships and pains in the process of gestation-“all in order to prove to their wives that they are’ strong, brave, fearless and courageous. ”
More than a month after his wife told Goldman that Facebook had a team, he decided to take a look. “At first I was not ready to talk to a group of people I didn’t know about what I was going through.” He said. But in the end, he joined the group. When he read a post saying that a man’s difficult process of treating infertility had made him think of suicide, goldman burst into tears. “many men share his experience, but we are all silent.”
Phyllis Giercke Weiss, a psychology professor at Montreal Jewish General Hospital, believes that online male infertility groups are of great social significance and responsibility, because their existence makes the unspeakable experience of male infertility a common medical condition rather than a taboo topic. It is difficult for men with infertility to discuss this topic, “because they are different from their peers-most people they know have children, but they do not.” Giercke Weiss and her team are currently testing Infotility, a mobile phone application they have developed, which provides some methods and steps for male users to improve their fertility. They can also speak on it and communicate with each other.
Goldman posted only once in Facebook’s private group, and he didn’t talk about his situation in any social media. However, recently, he is somewhat interested in making a YouTube video series to tell everyone his story. “Talking about this with others will not make you weak,” he said, “nor will it make you unlike a man. If my story can let at least one man know that he is not alone in this pain, even if everyone thinks I am very vulnerable, I think it is worth it. “