Friday, October 31, 2014

1 (of 4) It Doesn't Happen To Us: Why I'll Do Movember Every Year

"Changing the face of men's health"

Part one: 'It doesn't happen to us'

If you're reading this, the bottom line is that I want you to sponsor me for Movember.

Before: October 2015
Most people have heard of Movember - men growing a moustache through the month of November to raise awareness of male health issues including:
- prostate cancer
- testicular cancer
- men's mental health issues

I'm doing it for all of those things.*

But also to raise awareness of a problem that's close to me personally - men's fertility issues.

In the same way as men's mental health issues have a certain stigma and silence attached to them, so do men's fertility issues.

Men don't get mentally ill. Or have problems producing a baby. It's doesn't happen to us.

My wife (Davina) and I started trying for a baby in April 2011. It's been a journey that's still going. And it's still difficult. And we still have no baby.

But I've discovered a lot about myself, fertility and our marriage along the way.

I had my first test in April 2012. This is after a year of trying. We went to the doctor together and he explained the process. No I didn't submit the sample there and then - I had to produce it at home and get it to the hospital within a certain amount of time.

It turned out that I had enough of them (count), they moved well (motility) but only 1% were formed normally (morphology).  The normal level is between 2% and 6%. My doctor at the time said it only takes one - and that 1% wasn't a problem.

Davina had a bunch of other tests up until November 2012 - that turn up nothing. Based on the information we had - it was all OK. The medical professionals we spoke to said keep trying.

February 2013 I have another test. Again I have enough of them (count) and they move well (motility).

But 0% have normal forms.

This was upsetting for me. It doesn't happen to us. It can't be happening to me.

I begin to question everything and search for a reason for this - as do the medical professionals. I get asked questions like:
Do you smoke? No.
Do you drink? Nope.

I start to wonder if it was my diet and general health. Yet by all the basic measures (weight, waist measurement, body fat) I was in good shape.** 

In fact I'm in better shape and health *now* than I was in my twenties.


What I know now, is that there are a lot of men (and couples) who have fertility problems. But it's a Great Unspoken Thing. I think it goes to the very core of what it means to be a man if you can't have children.

But it's difficult to talk about.

I'm now all for men getting themselves tested to find out the state of their fertility: whatever their age, whatever their relationship status. It's just "expected" that we'll all be able to have children easily.

Or not.

So sponsor me!

Thanks for reading.

Click here for Part Two: Things. Just. Happen.

*And I'm really glad that Men's Mental Health issues have been added to the list - my Father-in-law lived with bi-polar
** The Movember website has a really good set of information on general health.