Tackling a male taboo – talking fertility

Male fertilityThe truth is we, as a general population, are walking paradoxes. Sometimes we are happy to talk about ourselves, and at other times, we are challenged by the idea of admitting that there may be an issue outside of our control. Consider this, you see an optometrist, they say you need glasses, so what do you do, but start wearing glasses. There's no stigma. Or perhaps someone you know has an ongoing malaise later diagnosed as cancer. There's no shame, no hushed whispers. They will openly talk about it and better still, there is a lot of support. Yet when someone has depression, or when they suffer from fertility issues, they can feel massively isolated, alone and at times ashamed to talk about it.

I am a male in my mid-thirties, and like a large proportion of Australian males, I like watching sports of all kinds, trying my hand at a few as well, a couple of drinks with friends, good food, fun and generally being free to make my own choices. I am hardly an outlier by any standard and in fact some people would call me a typical male.

So why do I feel I am part of a minority, specifically, a minority of men who are comfortable talking about fertility, sex and, dare I say it, troubles with conception? Perhaps it is where I work which gives me unique and privileged insight and perspective, but I don’t think this is entirely it. In fact in the interview for my role, I was asked why I wanted to work at Genea. My answer was as true then as it remains today: “Because I as a parent, who had some issues conceiving with my wife, want to work somewhere where I can do my part to normalise the conversation about fertility and help as many others as possible experience the joy I have with my own kids”. 

A male stigma still exists around men and fertility

Recent pioneering campaigns such as Man Therapy are  addressing the topic of male depression and really working to bring it out into the open. In the same vein, I – as do we all here at Genea – want to open up more awareness and conversation around male fertility. In fact, it is why we are doing the Australian Fertility Census  at the moment – we want to know what people do and don’t know about fertility so we can have the right conversations with everyone. For now, some thoughts I would love all you guys (and girls too) to know is:




  • In the same way that cholesterol may be due to dietary intake and can be improved by eating healthier, a less than optimal sperm test can also sometimes be corrected by making simple lifestyle changes;
  • A simple sperm test (if you’re honest guys, it’s hardly going to be a painful experience) can potentially save your female partner months of invasive tests, expense and both of you anguish
    • 40% of fertility issues are male related, so knowing if you’re in this bracket early in the process of trying to conceive can be of major assistance.
  • You are not less of a man if you have to speak to someone about fertility. 
  • 1 in 6 couples will struggle with fertility which is the same ratio of people who suffer from depression – you are far from alone.
Lastly, I remember hushed whispers about friends who are not drinking alcohol/eating sushi speculating they must be trying to conceive. Why do we sometimes keep it a secret from close friends and family though? If you are struggling, or if you miscarry, aren’t these the very people you want to lean on? Won’t you want someone who is going to be there for you? Open up the conversation, it has to start with you. The more open and comfortable you are talking about it, the more others will become!


Posted: 5/08/2014 3:10:11 PM by | with 0 comments
Filed under: Fertility, Male, Male Fertility, Sperm
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