By Naomi Kitur
Healthcare providers should advocate for male reproductive health and encourage health seeking behaviours among the male gender, according to Dr.Lucy Natecho Namusonge, a Public Health expert from the School of Nursing at Kibabii University in Bungoma County.
Keen interest has in most cases been taken on reproductive health issues among females, thereby overlooking that of the male gender, according to Dr. Lucy Namusonge and women are often blamed whenever issues of infertility arise in marital set -ups.
“Men have poor health seeking behaviours in matters of reproductive health. Female partners are pushed to seek healthcare and men gauge their status as per the female partners’ results,’’ she said.
The male gender has been conditioned by the society not to express themselves or show their vulnerability and this greatly impacts their health seeking behaviours especially in matters of reproductive health.
She added that reproductive healthcare mostly targets women and children while men end up sidelined.Thus, healthcare providers should offer integrated health services whereby patients are screened for other health issues, especially reproductive health problems which are mostly attached to stigma thereby causing fear to seek help.
Dr. Namusonge also advised that there should be strategies in terms of information communication and education to enlighten the male population that they need to have positive health seeking behaviours that can help in the diagnosis of major problems that may lead to infertility.
According to the public health expert, lots of stigma is associated with infertility in both genders which leads to depression, frustration, poor self- esteem and confidence and other mental health issues which negatively affect intimate relationships and destabilizes family units.
She explained that most reproductive problems are interconnected in a vicious cycle and therefore, creating awareness about male reproductive health disorders will help them understand the modifiable risk factors and therefore avoid problems by changing their behaviours and lifestyle.
‘’Men should be made aware of the risk factors that cause improper sexual functioning. Type 2 diabetes caused by lifestyle, poor diet and lack of exercise is a risk factor for low testosterone levels, which hinders development of secondary sex characteristics,” Dr. Namusonge.
She stated that in cases where reproductive problems are caused by underlying diseases like type 2 diabetes, treatments start from managing these underlying diseases.
According to Dr. Namusonge, both the male and female genders are affected by the risk factors that cause reproductive disorders therefore, the ratio is 1:1. However, women seek reproductive healthcare while men rarely do, hence health records for men are less.
‘’Research should be done on the ground to know the prevalence of the existing reproductive health problems among the male gender so as to establish the magnitude of the problem and therefore come up with long- term solutions,’’ she stated.
Dr. Namusonge advised that the relevant body in the Ministry of Health should come up with solutions and strategies that can be used to reach community populations and create awareness, through information communication and education.