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Practice realistic optimism
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Manage time wisely
Mass infertility: a sign of the times?
Dramatic decline in male fertility may be a product of modernity
As published on the health and wellness ideas and information portal: Natural Blaze
Modern living can be a real drag, particularly if you’re a sperm cell it seems. In July came news of the publication of a scientific review that appeared to confirm the suspicions of many a soothsayer down the ages. Verily, the seed of human existence looks to be drying up.
According to study authors at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, sperm counts and concentration figures in the West have halved since the early 70s, and continue to fall at an alarming rate. Might the baron dystopia of intergenerational fruitlessness, foretold by many a cackling witch down the ages, indeed be just around the corner?
As the news broke, Edinburgh University’s Professor Richard Sharpe was on hand to reassure us that “the end of humanity is not approaching”. Alas, those of the Sir David Attenborough (“we are a plague on earth”) school, quick to cheer the report, may have been a little premature in rejoicing. A substantially depopulated planet may not, in fact, be right around the corner and mankind’s fate is far from sealed.
Rather disconcertingly, however, the professor added: “we have no idea about what is the cause of the condition” and “we cannot remedy it”. Knowledge of male fertility problems does remain patchy on the whole; but this is not to say we have no clue as to what’s going on, far from it. Whilst some in the field may still be firing blanks, others feel that they have already reached satisfactory conclusions.
There exists a significant, growing body of robust research we may look to for signs of credible causes. In truth, one doesn’t have to be a reproductive health expert to fathom, then, what may at least partially underlie the recent decline in male fertility.
Whatever select specialists may be willing to venture, on the record, about what they know, or how convincing they find the existing evidence, the picture that emerges from the literature is pretty clear. Contrary to the dismissive pronouncements of certain on-message establishment figures (who shan’t be named), in reality we are unlikely to have to wait another generation to be in a position to pinpoint some of the main culprits. Better still, the prime suspect is close at hand, and we have it in our grasp to do something about it.
As it happens, the elephant in the room is actually in your pocket. That’s right guys, we’ve more than likely done this to ourselves. Irradiating intimate areas with radiofrequency (or ‘wireless’) transmission devices – like mobile phones, tablets, and laptops – has been repeatedly shown to be bad news for delicate reproductive cells and anatomy. Turns out microwaving your balls may be harmful. Who’d have known?
According to Dr. Joel Moskowitz of the University of California, Berkeley, “we have considerable evidence that cell phone radiation damages sperm and is associated with male infertility”. The Director of the Center for Family and Community Health at Berkley’s School of Public Health has further cautioned in recent months that it appears female fertility may also be adversely affected.
The link is consistent with the observation that Western men are the only major demographic group known to have experienced such a stark transformation. Of course, this could well be a function of other shifting cultural phenomena but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to discount the possibility that early adoption of wireless consumer tech has played a role. Any which way you look at it, growing male infertility in the West is plausibly the very definition of a ‘modern disease’.
Besides recent replicated study findings linking radiofrequency radiation (RFR) exposure to impaired male fertility, scientists have known for decades that even relatively low power intensity microwaves can disturb finely tuned, sensitive biological systems in sometimes subtle and insidious ways.
This is not, however, to say that RFR represents the primary determinant of the emergent fertility crisis, or indeed that biomedical science is close to having the precise role of any lifestyle-linked risk factor all sewn up.
Clearly, there remains plenty of further investigative research to be done in this most sensitive of areas, and a number of other contemporary thematics must also be borne in mind. These include a role for: stress, diet, body weight, temperature of the testes, and both voluntary behavioural and involuntary environmental exposure to endocrine disruptors (e.g. pharmaceuticals, drugs, alcohol, and other chemical pollutants).
For many, the jury’s still out on the effects of RFR, but few by now can deny the rationale for a precautionary approach, in view of the emerging evidence. If we act now, both as individuals and as a society, then countless couples may be spared the ordeal of having to pursue invasive, by no means guaranteed, and increasingly restricted assisted reproductive treatments in the future. All that’s required is that we’re willing to accept the mother of all inconvenient truths: that the gizmos and gadgets we’re all glued to may not just prove a barrier to truly living life in the present but also get in the way of life (rather less figuratively) going forward.
1. A large scale epidemiological study has revealed that the birth control pill* is associated with a doubling of the risk of depressive mental health problems
2. Another study illustrates one of a number of nascent harms associated with long-term administration of pain medication (in this case ibuprofen**)
* Caused long-lasting hypertensive dysautonomia and a series of highly painful and disruptive ovarian cysts, in the experience of a friend of mine
** Responsible for abdominal inflammation/convulsions in my case (and known to irritate the gut)
Robert Naviaux et al. have published new evidence of metabolite abnormalities somewhat specific to ME/CFS, indicating that we may soon have a - to date, lacking, and much needed - diagnostic biomarker for the disease vs. the laborious existing objective diagnostic: VO2 max repeat exercise tests
Consistent with my own integrative pathophysiological research/guidance, their data suggest that the condition centres on a common (maladaptive) systemic response to trauma (of varying kinds), rather than differential presentation of an illness stemming from a particular stressor
The aberration profile itself is said to resemble hibernation activity, arguably tantamount to organismic survival behaviour i.e. autonomic responses to systemic physiological threats such as malnutrition, dehydration, and hypoxia. Again, this conception is consistent with my review of the recent scientific literature
Related article: The Economist
Engage emotionally | Let yourself grieve the loss of the partner/relationship. This is only natural vs. unnatural to repress it
Acceptance | If it's ended then it's likely because you are not 'supposed to be together' e.g. at least one of you isn't right for the other
Forgive and forget | Not always possible but almost always healthy to use the experience as an opportunity to show dignity/humanity
No contact rule | Depending on the nature of breakup, it's often a good idea to give them/yourself some space, for a while at least
Out of sight, out of mind | Depending on how emotionally vulnerable/secure one is, it can be helpful to remove all traces of one's ex
Watch out for manipulation | Human nature being as it is, it's rare for young people to make a totally clean break. Don't get sucked into games
Avoid revenge mentality | Apart from anything else this is a total waste of energy and you risk losing the moral high ground if things get petty
Listen to your gut | Also listen to reason e.g. consider patterns of behaviour over time, rather than just salient events, fear, or prejudice
Staying friends | See above comments - few can hack it but in certain circumstances it can actually be healthy/helpful to stay on friendly terms
Be around people | Also busy yourself, and do reach out to dependable friends and family who can support you as you bounce back
Time heals all | What seems like the end of the world one week can be just a drop in the ocean the next. Life goes on
Avoid alcohol/substance abuse | This is unlikely to bring you either physical or psychological stability, which is just what you need!
Explore new connections | When you're ready (not if you're still full of angst/in a beta or 'victim complex' mindset). Avoid rebounding
The policy announcement comes in response to interventions by senior healthcare professionals/public figures, and is pitched at helping to combat major, life threatening public health issues linked to sugar consumption e.g. obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's
Improving child health and vitality is the primary objective of the initiative and, in England, proceeds from the tax are to be invested in increasing sporting participation at primary schools
Laudable as the aims may be, unfortunately the paternalistic measure has come in for a lot of criticism, for example given that:
Consumers facing higher prices of affected goods may simply opt for non-taxed sugary alternatives
It is likely to further incentivise the use of artificial sweeteners which come with a host of ‘side effects'
It focuses on one, narrow aspect of nutrition, when we know that a balanced diet and exercise are also vital
A crude banded calculus is employed, rather than a 'by the gram' tapered approach (future refinement?)
It will likely hit the poor hardest and is projected to cost HM Treasury around £1bn to implement
Such measures have had a negligible impact on calorie consumption and obesity in other countries
ME/CFS is a neurological disorder that appears to have become increasingly prevalent in the West in the past few decades. Increasingly, patients report sensitivities to atmospheric pollutants vs. an improvement in their health when they move to certain (relatively remote, and damp/fungi free) coastal, arid, or high altitude locations: ‘The Location Effect'. Perrin Technique also suggests that ME/CFS often involves a degree of (neuro-)lymphatic drainage dysfunction, which has ramifications for effective toxin clearance - a problem that may be addressed (in some cases) by way of manual lymphatic drainage, among other techniques
Such improvements likely do relate to mitigating exposure of sensitive areas of the central nervous system (CNS) to e.g. (possibly interacting) fungal biological/anthropogenic chemical neuroimmune/bioEM stimulative/interacting (myco)toxins and heavy metals
New criteria for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) were outlined earlier this year, when The Institute of Medicine (IOM) - an independent US health think tank - presented a comprehensive report on the condition, also recommending that it be renamed: Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID)
Under the proposed criteria, at least 4 of the following 5 core symptoms (edited for brevity) must apply in order for one to receive a positive diagnosis:
* Substantial and persisting for over 6 months, not the result of ongoing excessive exertion, and not substantially alleviated by rest
** A worsening of some symptoms e.g. typically including pain/fatigue, in the 12-48+ hours following exertion
*** Irregularities in blood pressure/heart rate regulation, associated with being upright and stationary, and in the context of low blood volume
This is an interesting, long overdue development in a sensitive/somewhat controversial area (diagnosis/nomenclature) relating to a sensitive/somewhat controversial topic (an ‘invisible illness' about which there has historically been much ‘confusion' in the media/medical profession)
The focus on the objectively demonstrated physiological dysfunction (PEM) that is essentially unique to this condition is welcome, insofar as it helps to underline the fact that it is a very real, and disruptive, disease, and to differentiate it from chronic fatigue more broadly, as well as other illnesses (e.g. depressive/sleep disorders), which may bear similarities to ME/CFS but ought not to be confused with it
Contrarily, it is perhaps unhelpful insofar as it does not explicitly incorporate the core pathology of the disease which is, fairly irrefutably, inflammation of the central nervous system
Link: ME Association Article
Self-esteem is essentially about capacity, whereas self-worth is about value. Relatively good self-esteem is therefore, ultimately, of little help in the absence of self-worth. The pursuit of self-esteem, or attempts to boost it, can be premature and yield short-lived, superficial results
Self-love, or an internal recognition of one’s value, should ideally be anchored in an innate sense of oneself as valuable and lovable; it is not enough that it be predicated merely on being ‘good’ at this or that, or favoured/appreciated by this or that person(s) e.g. in recognition of our efforts/abilities in particular areas
We absolutely are, in a moral sense, ostensibly ‘the sum of our actions’. However, whilst this is how we may define moral identity, it is but one component of our essential being. Strong, sustainable self-worth reflects a deeper/broader knowledge of oneself that may centre on an appreciation of our core psychology or (manifest) ‘character’, but is not limited to our conduct or achievements e.g. within the domain of ethical behaviour
In focusing too heavily on self-esteem boosting endeavours one can place too much emphasis on building self-acceptance in relation to tokenistic, transient, external factors, (inadvertently) indulge vices like pride/egotism, and indeed potentially miss out on opportunities to bolster self-worth through introspection e.g. interrogating upstream processes, such as: "I am interested in self-improvement, and this is a valuable quality"
Every human being has value, and each has the capacity to love themselves – often what people need is to rediscover/internalise the sort of simple, infantile sense of unconditional love and security that we associate with early years parental love/support. Some find it helpful to seek to imprint this in the ‘parental voice’ of our psyches through things like meditation, mantras, and (self-)hypnosis e.g. "I am valuable; I am loving; I am loved; I am worthy of love"
Once we learn to love ourselves at this most basic level we can (safely and sustainably) move on to higher levels of self-awareness, self-knowledge, self-acceptance, self-love, self-worth, and critical self-improvement (which might otherwise be damaging/destabilising)
Let yourself begin to believe - you were created with unique, intrinsic value
Link: How To Build Self Worth
In it's phase 2 trial in Norway, the anti cancer drug Rituximab appears to have delivered markedly positive outcomes in as many as two thirds of cases. This offers hope both those of us who have the enigmatic, and to-date incurable, neurological condition ME/CFS (aka ‘M.E.', ‘CFS', ‘SEID'). It also further underscores the belief held by researchers such as myself that the condition may be linked to insidious self-harming effects of certain immune agents (B-lymphocytes and their CNS glial equivalents)
Having said all of that, trials elsewhere are not all finding the drug to be terribly effective, particularly once maintenance doses are stopped
Link: ME Association news item