13 January 2011

Men's Reproductive Health

We have a real lack of information about and open environments for the discussion of men's reproductive health. Well - let's say there's a lack of resources for heterosexual men. That's not to say that things are perfect for women or homosexual men, but there are quite a lot of non-profit and governmental efforts to reach out to, say, women. That's where babies come from, right? So, that must be important. And, homosexual men are supposedly engaging in such unsafe behavior, right? So, there's a lot of outreach to that community.

But, what about heterosexual men in low-income communities? All I've ever really seen is safe-sex campaigns, all of which are geared entirely toward the prevention of pregnancy and the spread of HIV/AIDS. To me that seems more like self-interest on the part of those doing the outreach more than genuine concern for the well-being of the target population. The message could be interpreted as, "Don't have more kids that you aren't going to take care of, and don't get sick so that we don't have to take care of you."

How about talking to people just so they can have a high quality of life? Herpes and genital warts are common no matter what your ethnic/socioeconomic background is, and they aren't going to kill very many people. But, they can certainly ruin one's sex life, or if the carrier is blissfully ignorant, they can ruin the sex life of their partners. Other more minor infections, such as trichomoniasis (trich), are fairly common, but rarely discussed anywhere. It's moderately inconvenient, but most men and women won't recognize the symptoms.

What about the inclusion of a healthy amount of masturbation and regular checks for testicular cancer?

Just like mental health issues, when people actually suspect that there is something wrong, they are terrified to go to the doctor or talk to friends about it. While if you have a sore throat, you tell everyone. You know not to kiss your partner or they might get it. The average person knows whether or not to go to the doctor for a sore throat or cold, and you can ask the pharmacist without whispering, what you should take.

Beyond any potential social stigmas, having a sore throat isn't great, but having a non-terminal sexually transmitted infection can have unnecessary negative repercussions on your mental health and your future physical health - to the point of affecting your ability to reproduce. Of course, that sounds like a reason why stigmas are attached, but if most infections are handled appropriately they only have to be as much of a speed bump in one's life as getting the flu.

So, why aren't we talking about this more?

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