'They call you eunuch...'

'They call you eunuch...'

Constant pressure for men to father children

Monday, May 14, 2012

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WHILE childless women are pressured by the ticking of their biological clocks as they near 40, for some men, it’s the constant jeering from friends that make not having children unbearable.



In Jamaica, having a ‘youth’ is often seen as a signal of manhood and unfortunately, not having one is often translated to mean that a man is either infertile, gay, or is not having sex.



"In a social environment like Jamaica, manhood or masculinity are connected to fertility or the reproduction of children," said gender and development specialist and chief executive officer for the Family Medical Centre, St Rachel Ustanny.



Male development specialist, Marlon Moore, also pointed to the fact that men who cannot procreate are often emasculated by their peers.
"Within the inner-city communities or underserved communities, so to speak, the idea of having children is very integral to manhood, and that is separate and distinct from being a father within the context of roles and responsibilities," he said.



He noted that, "They might jest and jeer and even call each other names."



Fifty-year-old Shawn Livingston is well aware of the names used to describe men like himself who haven’t been able to produce children.
"They call you eunuch because they say you don’t have no youth," he told All Woman.



"Sometimes I feel downhearted, because sometimes you are amongst your friends and dem will tease you that you’re wasting your oil," he said.



Campbell said even women can be discriminating towards men who have no children.



"Some of them will say, ‘be honest, something wrong with you?’ Some of them say, ‘I don’t want any puss inna bag’," he shared.



The security guard, who got baptised a couple years ago, said he just wants to settle down with the right girl and hopes to find one in church.



"I just want to find the right person, but some of these girls are young and tell you that they are not ready to settle down," he pointed out, explaining that he would like to have children one day.


The other story: Men and infertility




According to the study Gender Differences in Coping with Infertility among Couples Undergoing Counselling for InVitroFertilization Treatment, which was done by clinical psychologist Dr Audrey Pottinger et al, Jamaican men were just as affected by infertility as women.


"Men may also engage in extramarital affairs and are likely to experience sexual dysfunction manifested as erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory disorders, loss of libido and a decrease in the frequency of intercourse," the study published in the West Indies Medical Journal in 2006 found.


The study found that women more than men tended to blame themselves for their childlessness and that men more than women tended to avoid talking about their experience.


Gender and development specialist and chief executive officer for the Family Medical Centre, St Rachel Ustanny said society has often sought to blame the woman, however, studies have shown that one-third of all fertility cases usually see the man being the one who can’t procreate.


"He says that ‘I’m okay, I am a strong man and I can produce children and I am able to produce enough sperm to be adequately able to produce enough children’ and therefore a kind of blame game tends to naturally fall on the woman," she said.


Male development specialist, Marlon Moore, also saw the blame game coming out during his interaction with a group of men last year, while working on a project that was geared towards assessing the new look of fathers in Jamaica.


"In short, what we got from the men was that if a woman can’t get pregnant, they feel that they shouldn’t be with that woman," he said.


He was keen to point out that many changed their views once they were forced to really contemplate this course of action. However, they still place a lot of effort in having a child.


"You would hear them say, ‘yow my youth, if you want a youth, you know you have to drink up your peanut punch and Guinness’ and those things," Moore said.


Ustanny said men often fear finding out what’s the cause for their infertility problem. In cases where they do visit a doctor, a semen analysis, a blood test, an imaging test, and genetic testing is done.


"About 90 per cent of male infertility is due to low sperm count or the production of sperm with low quality," she said.


She noted that causes for infertility in men include aging, sexually transmitted diseases or infection, long-term exposure to toxins and lifestyle - related factors such as drinking and smoking.



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