Friday, November 10, 2017

Why Movember is Failing (One Part of) Men's Health

Before and After - Movember 2017

Movember starts today. As it does every year.

The charity bringing awareness of, and raising money for men's health, started with cancers and have expanded to include men's mental health. This is commendable. As much as this charity does the most - globally - for men's health, they're still failing men in one area. And that area is a blind spot for the medical profession too:

Men's fertility.

I will still participate in Movember. I will grow a moustache every year. Yet as the hairs grow on my upper lip through the month of November, I still feel let down by the charity that states "we're addressing some of the biggest health issues faced by men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention."

I consider myself lucky that I've not been around much conversation with friends and family about cancer - let alone male cancers. But, I've got four people I know (three close friends) whose fathers died through suicide. Movember has done something. People's awareness of men's cancers and men's mental health has increased.

But the silence about male fertility is deafening - even though it's becoming a bigger problem - see here and here. The deeper issue is that the experience of having children has traditionally been associated with women. The medical profession has focused its research around female fertility. Male fertility lacks the funding for research - which therefore means less is known.

My personal experiences reflect this: I almost felt like an aside during our three rounds of IVF. From the lack of support available to men, through to the conversations nurses and consultants had with my wife and myself (most of their attention was on my wife - unless I made my presence felt with a question).

I've written repeatedly about it on this blog and on Good Men Project and Huffington Post. I've even been on a BBC Breakfast News segment and on live radio. I posed the question 'Are you less of a man if you can't have children?'

My friends and family all know why I grow a moustache for November.

I've been in touch with Movember on several occasions about men's fertility. (This is my fourth consecutive year of participating in Movember and about about my seventh or eighth overall).

I've heard nothing back.

Whilst I still participate, my aim is to get Movember to add men's fertility to their list of areas.

My mum thinks I should stop talking about our fertility journey. I can understand why she feels this, and I know she's looking out for me. But she also knows that I'm a loud mouth.

Hence this controversially-titled post.

If Movember claim to be addressing men's health, they need to consider men's fertility.

I invite you to:
1) sponsor me, and
2) share this post.