Male Reproductive Health

February 29, 2012

in All Things Fertility,Guest Bloggers

Ken Mosesian is Executive Director of The American Fertility Association. The American Fertility Association (The AFA), a 501 (c) (3) national non-profit organization, is a lifetime resource for infertility prevention, reproductive health and family building. AFA services and materials are provided free of charge to consumers and are available to everyone without reservation. These services include leading-edge educational outreach events, an extensive online library with HD videos, a daily blog, a resource directory available for download on mobile devices, telephone and in-person coaching, and a toll-free support line.

Sometimes a seemingly simple “yes” results in a far greater outcome than one can imagine. At an annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine a few years ago, Dr. Lee Warner from CDC approached me and asked if The American Fertility Association (The AFA) would be willing to helm a group on male reproductive health. I said yes. Why? Because many people don’t realize that in approximately 40 percent of infertile couples, the male partner is the sole factor, and a contributing factor along with the female, in another percent. Unfortunately, men’s health in general, and men’s reproductive health specifically, do not receive the kind of attention or resources they merit.

With that simple “yes” to Dr. Warner, The Male Reproductive Health Alliance (MRHA) was born. Convened by The AFA, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The Society for the Study of Male Reproduction (SSMR) – a specialty sub-society of the American Urological Association (AUA), and Men’s Health Network (MHN), MRHA has the following mission:

“Our mission is to undertake a multi-disciplinary approach to improve men’s reproductive health from adolescence onwards through surveillance, research, education and intervention in the clinical setting and in the community. We seek to understand the male reproductive health behavior and knowledge, attitudes and beliefs that lead to this behavior. This will lead to development of best practices to prevent and screen health conditions that might affect by male reproductive health, or might be caused by it, and will facilitate a unified approach to public, provider and government awareness, education and action.”

It’s a huge mission, and rightly so. The status of men’s health in general, which certainly impacts men’s reproductive health, is in a critical state. As Scott Williams, Vice President of MHN points out:

“The status of male health in the United States provides cause for concern about the health of the country and the social context of our society. Males in the United States are born frailer, live sicker, and die younger than their female counterparts. This is true across all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.”

  • According to the National Center for Health Statistics (2009), men are leading in 9 out of the top 10 causes of death (heart disease, cancer, COPD, suicide, etc.)
  • The American Cancer Society (2011) reports that 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime, while for women the ratio is 1 in 3
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010) reported that the life expectancy gap between men and women had increased from 1 year in 1920 to approximately 5 years in 2007

But the most troubling to me is that the National Center for Health Statistics (2001) shows that women are 100 percent more likely than men to visit a doctor for prevention.

This argues for the mission of MRHA more forcefully than anything.

MRHA has been meeting monthly for the past three years, and one of the highlights was a groundbreaking symposium at CDC that brought together 100 stakeholders from the consumer, government, scientific, and medical communities. As a result of that meeting, we began compiling a series of articles that will be rolled out in “consumer-friendly” language, once a month, beginning at the end of February, and will be housed at:

The American Fertility Association Library for Men

The first three topics are:

  • Sports and Male Infertility
  • War and Male Genital Trauma
  • The Anabolic Steroid Threat to Male Reproduction

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