Today we see more and more acceptance of people talking freely and indiscriminately about their bodies and personal health problems because well, we have more information regarding ourselves than ever before. Gone are the days when women would shy away from discussing once taboo topics that are now perceived as perfectly normal.
This has much to do with more debate and discussion around such issues in pop culture with documentaries such as Period. End Of Sentence winning a freakin’ Oscar and this empowering discourse has even seeped into our own South Asian consciousness with Pad Man chronicling a similar story.
Of course, that is not to say that the stigma just vanishes like that. That would not be accurate since even today sexual health education and “the talk” are foreign concepts in our part of the world. But with more and more young adults interested in ensuring that they are aware of their rights to their bodily autonomy and awareness regarding horrific societal issues such as rape and harassment, things are beginning to change.
It seems, however, that we only want to talk about a taboo topic once the damage has been done or if it conforms to our idea of issues that are “worth” correcting and discussing. Don’t get me wrong, many in our society would love to suppress the fact that men and women, girls and boys, minorities and transgenders are raped, assaulted, harassed and abused every day, but this is no longer as easy to hide. The fact remains that absolutely no one is safe and although we have begun addressing several women’s issues, we routinely continue to ignore men.
Last time we checked, men are also sexual beings who need sex ed and health awareness, but then why is it that no one discusses what part men play in reproduction? or more importantly, how their bodies work? Surely there must be questions and misconceptions swirling around every young man (and woman’s) head when it comes to the male body?
We realize that a lack of understanding is the least of men’s worries when it comes to talking about their sexual health in a positive manner since it is not considered “manly” for men to engage in meaningful and informative conversations about themselves because that’s something women do. Right?
Men fear the inherent dehumanization and singling out treatment they receive from their peers if it is perceived that there is a “problem” with their “equipment.”
And the fear is completely justified as is the struggle R. E. A. L!
But men, let us assure you that your issues and concerns are VALID. Your sexual health is AS important as women’s and we’re going to try to list out a few common facts and clear our some misconceptions right now to show you that it’s OKAY to talk about your own bodies.
Male infertility is real but so is the stigma around it.
As per a news report by The Express Tribune, as of 2016, approximately 15 to 20 percent of couples in Pakistan are infertile and out of those 40 percent cases of infertility are male.
However, due to the intense pressure we collectively put on women as the main reason a couple is childless, we not only further stigmatize the larger issue at hand but also brush away the fact that such a huge percentage of men are not addressing this issue due to societal stigma and are subsequently suppressing their experience with the issue.
However as the report further explains, this issue should not be as stigmatized as it is because medically around 80 percent of such cases can now be cured with the proper intervention and care.
But since society refuses to allow men to come to terms with the issue, there is a need for more male health practitioners to educate and help men to make the right decision.
Further, issues such as Male Lactation might be rare and really misunderstood but is a very REAL problem and may arise due to a hormonal imbalance, damage to the hypothalamus or even due to some medication. This is slightly different from gynecomastia which is a disorder where men end up with enlarged breasts and, is caused by an imbalance between the male testosterone and female estrogen hormones.
Ever wondered why men (and women) experience wet dreams? Well, let us assure you that this is a perfectly natural part of growing up and usually begins during puberty. However, there are quite a few misconceptions around that as well as they are regarded as impure abnormalities. While this might be true for cases where this gets out of control, wet dreams do not mean anything is wrong.
They definitely do NOT decrease sperm count and they do not only occur when one masturbates. Some individuals may, however, wish to stop them from occurring due to personal and/or religious reasons and one of the best ways to reduce chances of having a wet dream is to ensure that consenting adults have sex more frequently.
Growing up can be a very scary and uncertain time of young boy’s lives, especially if they are forced to rely on unrealistic and misleading adult and or pornographic sources to learn about their own AND women’s bodies. Which is why opening up greater discourse and debate around the issue needs to happen. And fast!