Sperm count: Brad warns blokes about neglecting your ‘mates’

After contracting genital tuberculosis in 2005, a series of unfortunate ‘groin-related’ events left Brad with the confronting news that he may no longer be able to produce viable sperm in order to father children. Brad says, as a young man, he never thought about having children until he realised it may be taken away.

Hard Yakka

Getting blokes to the doctor can be hard. When it comes to getting their health checked out, many Aussie men are of the “if I pretend it doesn’t exist, it should go away” school of thought. However, Brad says he is now confident in spreading the word that “toughing it out” isn’t really that tough at all.

“I first knew something was wrong when I noticed swelling in my testicles and they started to get bigger and bigger,” Brad says.

“I was building my house at the time. I was working with my Dad so I didn’t want to seem like a wuss by complaining I was sick, so just let it go.

“Being an Aussie man, you tend to just put up with it. I figured after a couple weeks it would just go away.”

Unfortunately, instead of going away, it got much worse. By the time Brad saw a doctor and got to see a specialist to figure out a complicated diagnosis, his sperm count was found to be zero.

From zero to hero

Patient experience: sperm countBrad was diagnosed with genital tuberculosis, meaning the infection was located in his testicles and therefore wreaking havoc with his ‘junk’. Brad says it was a shock to deal with, but he now has the guts to get properly tested.

“The doctors don’t yet know if there is zero sperm count because the epididymis is blocked through infection, or maybe I have just stopped producing sperm,” he says.

“There is no way to tell from ultrasound or x-ray, so I just have to go in and have surgery and they can cut open and have look. They will also do a biopsy to look for sperm.”

Brad says that because of his experience, he urges any man, with any problem south of the border, to see someone as soon as possible. He says waiting too long can cost more than just your health.

“It’s now cost me my chance of having kids.”

Who’s your Daddy?

Brad is in his late 20s and says he never considered having children until he realised he may not be able to.

“I would never have kids for the sake of it, but as a young man, it made me think about having kids in a very different way,” he says.

He also says it can be a difficult subject for men to deal with as there are many complex emotions that blokes just aren’t trained to talk about.

“It sort of challenges your masculinity,” he says.

“It can be emasculating and it does affect your self-esteem. I was worried a woman wouldn’t want to be with me if I couldn’t have kids.

Patient experience: sperm count“But I spoke to my girlfriend and she was so accepting and it was so comforting to hear. It’s a hard process; you have to think about whether you would adopt or what kind of options there are.

“My old man is Italian and I know he would be devastated if I couldn’t carry on the name, so it was really complex. Having kids is a great part of life and when it’s taken away, it’s difficult to deal with.”

Brad says the experience has also expanded his perception on life, and he refers to his favourite saying: “Sometimes it’s not until you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything.”

However, learning the hard way isn’t necessary, and Brad hopes men will learn from his experience so they don’t have to lose themselves.

Check out the big brain on Brad!

Brad has certainly wisened up after his ordeal and has advice for other blokes too.

“My advice to any men is simple: Act quickly and if you think something is wrong, don’t be scared to visit a couple of doctors,” he says.

“Don’t wait until it’s too late and something bad happens.”


More information

Male urogenital system For more information on genital tuberculosis including risk factors, statistics, progression, diagnosis and treatment, see Genitourinary Tuberculosis.
Sperm health
For more information on sperm health, including factors affecting sperm health and investigations of sperm health, see Sperm Health

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