The Explained series, produced by Vox and Netflix, is one of the best documentary series we have seen. It is exceptionally well-researched, the graphics are artfully comprehensive and straightforward, and its use of archival footage is just impressive. It is so popular, in fact, that it has produced two limited spin-offs, one of which is Sex, Explained.
If you only want to try one episode, then jump to the one entitled "Fertility." I strongly encourage guys, especially fathers, to check this episode because you will gain a new appreciation of the awesomeness that is the female body.
The episode features Myles and Amanda Makalia, a couple who is unable to conceive a child because of Myles' condition called non-obstructive azoospermia, which is considered the most severe form of male infertility. Why? Because there is no sperm at all — zero, zilch, nada.
You know that sticky white liquid that comes out of your penis when you climax? That is semen, not sperm, but most people interchange the terms. Semen is the sperm cells' vehicle to travel — it is the sperm's bus, so to speak. In Myles's case, however, there's a bus, but there are no drivers nor passengers. And without the sperm, there can be no life.
This episode of Sex, Explained challenges the centuries-old stigma that anything about infertility is the woman's fault, which is not always the case as Myles and Amanda's experience shows. Male infertility doesn't always get the spotlight because the woman carries the child. Many people automatically assume if you cannot conceive, the problem lies with the woman.
"It takes two to tango" in pregnancy, however, and the guy has half of the responsibility. And that means doing your fair share of tests. Sadly, many men refuse to even go for male reproductive health checkups.
I know of a married couple who have never had a child. The wife wants to undergo fertility treatment, but the husband violently refuses to seek help from specialists. Somehow, he is frightened of the idea that the problem might be with him. Rather than face the realization he might be infertile, he would rather spend his whole life not knowing. He thinks being labeled an infertile male will take away from his masculinity.
Such toxic thinking is saddening, but that is a reality that exists to this day.
Having suffered three miscarriages in two years, it comes as no surprise that this topic hits close to home. I remember having to consult a urologist to check on my fertility. (I was, in fact, fertile and was given some meds to improve the quality of my sperm.)
The issue with my wife and me isn't a problem of fertility since we can conceive. It's just that the fetus we produce doesn't produce a placenta, which has something to do with gene compatibility from what I understand. Anyway, we've consulted a specialist, and things are looking good on that front.
The fact that we males can produce sperm even up to old age doesn't make us infallible. It does take two to tango, and in the case of fertilization and pregnancy, it's not a case of "one leads, and the other follows." It's more of both the male and the female are equally involved in the beautiful dance of creation.