Men’s Health Research versus Andrology—Defining the Division and Closing the Divide

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Vivian W.L. Tsang
Richard J. Wassersug, PhD



Background and Objective: We explore here men’s health research as practiced by health sociologists versus andrologists.

Material and Methods: We start by examining the occurrences of terms related to sex and gender in the literature of the two fields as a way to characterize and contrast their disciplinary differences. A sample of 30 terms that directly or indirectly related to sex and gender were searched in Google Scholar and the ratios of each term’s appearance within the literature for the two disciplines was recorded. Chi-squared tests assessed the statistical differences between the usage of each term in the two fields.

Results: Of the terms we sampled, only “penis”, “penile”, “testicles”, and “libido” did not differ significantly in their relative occurrence within either discipline’s publications. Words and phrases linked to gender, such as masculine, masculinity, and manhood, were significantly more common in “men’s health research” where gender is commonly construed as a social construct. We suggest, however, that the evidence for gender being purely a social construct is limited and neither necessary nor accepted as such within andrology. Andrology and men’s health research, we argue, are different disciplines in terms research methodologies and self-defined disciplinary borders. The presumption that gender is a social construct, though common within health sociology, is not implicit in andrology. Many problems in men’s health that have been assumed to be the products of enculturation have in fact a biological basis. However, solutions to those problems are often outside the domain of biomedicine and are more amenable to social solutions. We suggest that men’s health could be most effectively advanced if men’s health researchers and andrologists understood what divides their disciplines and made more effort to bridge that divide.                                                                                     

Key words:  sex, gender, social construction, andrology, men’s health

Word Count: 291

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