appreciate a nice cold glass of water. And you rely on a steady flow of
electricity to your home and work. Many of us also admire how modern technology
keeps us not only engaged and productive but also organized. But when is the
last time you reflected upon the most precious natural resource in our country:
Freedom! I think about this frequently and certainly every time I work with
Costs of War
Estimates are that 6,900 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan since the Iraq War began in 2003. As a consequence, scores of families will fail to form or grow — we’re talking about infertility in its most disastrous and absolute form.
An additional 30,000 troops have
been injured during these three military operations, and about 1 of every 20
injuries affected the male reproductive tract, causing near absolute
infertility. Over a 12-year period ending in 2013, 1,367 men
in our military had genital injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a
report. The most common injuries were to the
scrotum, testicles and penis. Over 10% of men lost one or both
testicles from these injuries. And, over 94% of
men injured were in peak reproductive age of 35 years or younger. It’s hard to
stay fertile when parts down there are missing or not working anymore.
Thankfully, there are systems in place to protect not only the
lives, but the fertility of our troops at war. The most notable of these are:
Sperm banking before deployment. This has long been encouraged by the Pentagon and now they are
thinking about actually funding it.
Pelvic armor. Given the
abundance of ground-level mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the
military now uses Kevlar underpants. There’s the PUG (protective undergarment)
on the inside and a thicker POG (protective outer garment) worn over combat
Funding infertility care. In
2016, a bill passed in Congress that
provides infertility treatment (up to 3 cycles of IVF) to disabled veterans.
There are some very special fertility doctors doing
amazing work to preserve fertility in cases of catastrophic genital injuries.
Our servicemen not only put their own lives on the line, they
also indirectly place their future families on that same line. As the
award-winning American writer Cynthia Ozick once said, “We often take for
granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” It is absolutely my
honor to tend to the fertility needs of our military.
This article first appeared on Dr. Turek’s blog.