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Masculinity, infertility, stigma and media reports

Gannon, K; Abel, P; Gannon, Kenneth; Glover, Lesley; Abel, Paul


K Gannon

P Abel

Kenneth Gannon

Lesley Glover

Paul Abel


There is growing concern about the health of men in the developed West. Compared with women they have higher rates of morbidity and mortality and are less likely to seek out and employ medical services. Several authors have drawn on social constructionist models, such as the concept of hegemonic masculinity, to account for these gender differences in risk and behaviour. One might anticipate that certain conditions, such as male infertility, would be perceived as posing a particular threat to conventional views of masculinity. There is some support for this, although there is little research into the social construction of male infertility. In this study Discourse Analysis was employed to analyse newspaper accounts of a reported decline in sperm counts in order to study the way in which infertility and masculinity were represented and constructed in the media. The results indicate a construction of fertility as being in crisis and of male infertility as conflated with impotence. Men were positioned as vulnerable and threatened by forces outside their control. The accounts drew on a range of stereotypically masculine reference points, such as warfare and mechanical analogies. These results are consistent with concepts of hegemonic masculinity and suggest that men are offered a highly restricted set of options in terms of perceiving and representing their bodies and their health. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Gannon, K., Glover, L., & Abel, P. (2004). Masculinity, infertility, stigma and media reports. Social science & medicine, 59(6), 1169-1175.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Feb 21, 2004
Publication Date 2004-09
Print ISSN 0277-9536
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 59
Issue 6
Pages 1169-1175
Keywords Male infertility; Sperm counts; Media; Masculinity; UK
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