Many us would be surprised to know that men are responsible for up to forty percent of cases of infertility in a couple. Several factors can affect the male reproductive system causing the sperm production to decline. These include surgeries, chronic illnesses, and prescribed medications.
Also, poor lifestyle, especially alcohol abuse, smoking, recreation drugs, inadequate diet, lack of exercise and emotional stress can have damaging effects on men’s ability to reproduce
Due its influence on the nervous system, preliminary medical studies have shown that acupuncture can, in many cases, increase testosterone levels, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve erectile dysfunction, and sperm quality and volume
Since it takes approximately three months for the sperm to be produced, it is important to treat a male patient for at least that period of time before a measured sperm improvement can be expected.
In Oriental medicine, the kidney organs are the foundation of the body. They store the life energy that triggers the major hormonal changes that occur in our life from the onset of puberty to menopause. In men’s health, the strength of these organs is responsible for, not only our sexual drive but also the quality and quantity of the sperm produced by our body. Other factors such as an excess amount of internal heat can also have a detrimental effect on the men’s reproductive system, as well as the poor circulation of blood in the sexual organs.
With Modern medical technology, Western specialists are now able to perform incredible feats to resolve men’s reproductive problems. Individual sperm can be injected straight into the egg (ICSI), to bypass quality and mobility issues, and in case of ejaculatory difficulties, semen samples can be collected directly from the testicles.
Unfortunately, there are many times when the couple will not be successful.
In that case, both partners have to accept that they will never accomplish their dream. It is a very difficult process of grieving for the life they will never have.
In these cases, it seems natural to empathize more with the women who will never bear a child, although it can be equally distressing for her male partner. While Australian statistics show that a quarter of women will never have a child, to my knowledge no research seems to have been conducted on the incidence of men who have never been a father.
In addition, some men will remain without a child because they never had a long-term relationship, or they were unlucky to have found their life partner too late in life.
There is also the issue of the falling birth rate. In many countries, women are now choosing to have children later in life when their fertility is declining, so family size has decreased, and fewer men are getting the chance to be a father. Since the young generation had traditionally been the main social and economic support for the older generations, this is becoming an enormous concern for future society.
In many cultures, it is a male’ s duty to produce offspring, and keep the family name and genetic inheritance alive. When a man is unable to do so, he can experience a sense of having failed towards his ancestors. Without children to keep them connected with others, many men struggle against loneliness and depression, with increased risks of suicide, addiction, violence, and incidence of heart and lung disease.
Robin Hadley is an Englishman who never had the chance to become a father. He remembers being “ broody “ while he was in his 30s. Finding himself unable the express his longing for a child, he ended up suffering a great deal. Consequently, he decided, several decades later, to quit his job as a professional photographer to become a counselor.
After discovering that very little research had been conducted about men’s experience of childlessness, he subsequently self-funded his Master of counseling degree on the subject of “The life experience of men ages 50+ who don’t have a child, and wanted to be a father ’”.
He discovered that, while British men had often been conditioned to suppress their emotions, once a trusting relationship was established, they had little difficulty in expressing the emotional turmoil they had been facing for so long. Many participants linked their childlessness to episodes of depression or revealed that they have stayed in terrible relationships for years because they didn’t want to miss on the opportunity to be a father.
Mr. Hadley found little difference in the desire to become a parent between female and male childless individuals. His research also indicated that “For some male not becoming a father had a greater negative impact than reported by the female participants”.
This lead to the creation of a support organization called Aging Without Children (AWOC), for a positive later life without children. It has conducted many successful workshop and seminars for both men and women in England. Unfortunately, having failed to receive any government funding, it is difficult to assess how long it will be able to survive.
I would like to believe that the situation is any better in this country, but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be the case.
Olivier Lejus MHSc. BHSc. is a Registered Acupuncturist practicing in Sydney.