Once Upon a Time in Barcelona

While in Barcelona recently, meandering through the Parc Guell and Sagrada Familia, the weight of what happened earlier that day hit me. I reveled, as anyone might, in the outlandish works of Gaudi, but a part of me remained sober, due to my participation in a debate at a men’s health conference. By the end of it, I realized that men in this country simply don’t get the treatment they deserve.
Are infertile men better served by fixing their infertility problem, or bypassing the problem and using IVF instead to build a family? My opponent was a well-known men’s health specialist from Germany. We butted heads on a variety of issues. But we strongly agreed that although some cases of infertility may not be treatable, all cases merit a thorough evaluation. This is because the cause of infertility could be an underlying medical problem with serious ramifications. Infertility can be a window into a man’s future health. Men not only deserve such an evaluation, they are owed it.
To provoke my opponent and cause a little drama, I said that IVF was the worst thing to happen to men’s health in the U.S in the last thirty years. Most infertile men in America receive only a semen analysis, and never get a proper examination. I estimated that only ten to twenty percent of U.S. men with infertility receive a formal urologic evaluation. The fact is that most infertile men stateside simply get no real medical care.
My audience’s visible disbelief at these statements revealed the huge divide between socialist health care systems in Europe and our own. In Germany and Spain, it is not simply advised, but mandated that both infertile partners receive a full workup, prior to considering treatment. Why pay through the nose for IVF when you may not need it? I had no idea that European countries’ approach to men’s health was so progressive. Surely, for the sake of men’s health, a similar mandate is a fundamental and worthwhile goal of any proposed national health care package in America.