What Just Happened…Last Year?

2016 was a doozy! No doubt. The Olympics, Castro’s death, Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize, and an unforgettable Presidential election. Two other amazing feats include our sending a spacecraft to Jupiter and the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. This year showed us that miracles can happen and dreams (and nightmares) can come true. Wasn’t it Anais Nin who said that the real stuff of life is profound drama?

Hey Over Here!

But what happened in that tiny corner of the universe called men’s health? Quite a bit, thank you. Our lumbering government sat up and took notice that men don’t take great care of themselves and is starting to think more about it. A meeting was held at the White House with a slew of invested stakeholders to figure out how to help men get and stay connected so that they live healthier and more productive lives. The Feds also held a think tank in Washington to better grasp how a man’s fertility predict or reflect future health. Finally, big brother is starting to get it that “health is the engine of wealth.”

Shine the Light

In the real world, a movie came out of Hollywood this year that, more than any single cultural event in years, conveyed to the world the profound notion that infertility is a disease just as terrible as any other. I was glad to be a part of it.

Going Granular

It was also a good year for the science of men’s health. Several testosterone trials were published that showed that there are real and measurable benefits in sexual symptoms when restoring testosterone levels in older men.
In an odd but true scientific breakthrough, the first penis transplant took place in our United States, although I don’t see these becoming available by mail order any time soon.
In the sphere of male infertility, we learned that the sons of fathers born from assisted reproductive technology (IVF-ICSI) share their father’s low sperm counts. Again we see that genetics is the royal flush in the inheritance game.
We also witnessed a paradigm shift with the report that pre-sperm cells (spermatids), a gamete ignored for a good decade, can be used with IVF-ICSI and lead to successful births. Brand spanking new to the fertility market this year is a sperm-based, male fertility test based on sperm epigenetic profiles that promises to be the best predictor of whether sperm are good or not in years.
Lastly, a note of some concern in our field is the fact that the Zika virus has made its way into the US and is one of a small handful of viruses known to cause male infertility, at least in mice. Now there’s a project that needs some attention…
In all, 2016 was a year of fables, flights of fancy, fallibility and factuality. But alas, it is done. Let hope shape your future.