Fertility-related Online Support For Male Cancer Survivors

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“These findings suggest that most men do want to talk to others about fertility, which indicates that there is a need for more fertility-related social support”

Let me qualify the above statement- I think men look to talk to other men about fertility-related social support.  In other words, I think cancer survivors want to talk to fellow survivors about common side effects, common fears, etc. We want to communicate with others who have an understanding of what we are experiencing. Online support groups are good at providing this kind of private support.

I was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer called multiple myeloma in early 1994. I underwent aggressive radiation and high-dose chemotherapy which left me infertile. Fortunately, Dr. Shina, my radiation oncologist, suggested I store some of my sperm before I underwent my radiation therapy. Dr. Shina made this prescent suggestion to me while I was on the radation table seconds before being zapped…but that’s for a different blog post.

My wife underwent artificial insemination and became pregnant with our son. I’m telling you all this for several reasons:

  • First, cancer patients often become infertile- chemo and radiation is toxic-
  • Secondly, newly diagnosed patients often focus on the short term- I wasn’t thinking about longer term issues like having children when I was undergoing active therapy-
  • Thirdly, cancer survivors living with short, long-term and late stage side effects want to talk privately to others who understand the issues being discussed.

I searched online just now for any/all resources for male cancer survivors. I didn’t find much. I will link what I found and hope to launch a closed Facebook group soon.

Have you been diagnosed with cancer and are wondering about fertility issues aka fertility preservation? Please scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.

Thanks,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:


Masculinity, Mental Health, and Desire for Social Support Among Male Cancer and Infertility Patients

“By surveying men who are currently infertile (N = 251) and men who are potentially infertile (i.e., men with cancer; N = 195), the mental health consequences of reproductive masculinity, or the cultural assumption that men are virile and should be fathers, were investigated.

There was no difference in depression levels between these two groups when controlling for demographic variables, suggesting that both groups of men have similar mental health needs. Since gendered notions of masculinity also suggest that men do not want to discuss their fertility health, their desire for online fertility-related social support was assessed.

These findings suggest that most men do want to talk to others about fertility, which indicates that there is a need for more fertility-related social support. This research challenges some conceptions regarding masculinity, as men revealed an interest in accessing online social support related to fertility…

Conclusion- The gendering of disease has further contributed to the idea of reproductive masculinity, whereby infertile men are often stigmatized and overlooked in the face of infertility (Daniels, 2006).

The present study finds that men who are diagnosed with infertility have similar levels of depression as men with cancer suggesting that a diagnosis of infertility (and especially male-factor infertility) should be considered as threatening to men’s mental health status.

While traditional notions of masculinity suggest that men are unlikely to ask for support because of the association of support with femininity (Courtenay, 2011), this research suggests that men do, in fact, have a desire for support, especially support that is found online.

This finding has important implications for future research on the mental health of men with illnesses, such as infertility, as it reveals a way to target men who may not outwardly express a need for social support. Since the results indicate that men who are members of an ethnic minority and men who have lower incomes desire online social support, these results provide a practical way to address men who are members of an underserved population

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