In the hushed corridors of Nair Hospital’s Andrology OPD, an unusual silence prevails as patients battling societal stigma seek solace for their intimate concerns. A rare scene in civic-run healthcare, it addresses a vital yet often overlooked aspect of men’s sexual health and reproductive well-being.
When The Indian Express visited the OPD — the only Andrology OPD run by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which operates only on Wednesdays, all the patients waiting were reluctant to engage in a conversation. A 43-year-old man from Bandra East, visibly unsettled, shared his struggle with Peyronie’s disease. This condition induces penile curvature, affecting sexual function and causing discomfort during erection.
“I consulted a local private doctor who charged Rs 400, but I was not cured… my family doesn’t know about the problem,” said the slum-dweller who runs an autorickshaw at Bandra station.
Sexual health issues often remain undiagnosed due to societal stigma, forcing many to seek private consultations, a luxury unaffordable for the underprivileged.
Addressing this gap, Nair Hospital became the first civic-run hospital to start an andrology OPD catering to sexual problems of men from poor backgrounds.
In three years, Nair Hospital’s Andrology OPD — handling 1,200 patients annually, effectively addresses a rise in sexual health issues, from premature ejaculation to erectile dysfunction. Overcoming initial stigma, it has received positive responses, benefiting underprivileged communities.
The stigma surrounding men’s sexual health issues often inhibits individuals from discussing them with dear ones, fearing potential ridicule. Dr Priyank Kothari, Assistant Professor at Urology Department and Andrology OPD coordinator, says, “It is imperative to dismantle this stigma, ensuring a secure space for open discussions, offering every individual, regardless of economic status, access to confidential and compassionate healthcare, nurturing a healthier, more informed community.”
Doctors observe a concerning surge in men’s sexual health issues, ranging from premature ejaculation and low sperm count to erectile dysfunction. Blaming modern lifestyle, excessive consumption of fast food and heightened stress as primary factors, Dr Kothari said, “Some cases have genetic roots. Our dedicated team addresses patients’ concerns through a comprehensive approach, employing medications, surgical interventions and counselling. This holistic strategy aims to not only treat symptoms but also addresses the underlying causes.”
Within the OPD, doctors reveal an annual influx of cases, with an average of 500 instances of erectile dysfunction. Complaints include 250 cases of premature ejaculation, 150 cases of low sperm count, 50 cases of zero sperm count and 50 instances of penile curvature, along with other concerns.
The trend underscores the demand for specialised care through open conversations, fostering a judgment-free space for seeking medical assistance. Financial obstacles also impede access to treatment for the impoverished, emphasising the need for affordable healthcare.
“Infertility and male sexual problems pose significant concerns. Treatment costs in private hospitals can be exorbitant. Here, quality treatment is available at nominal cost,” says Dr Sudhir Medhekar, dean of the hospital.