This is an excerpt from a chapter from my upcoming book. If you are going through IVF or know somebody that is then please let them know about my upcoming book. After being through so much and learning a lot about IVF treatment, I felt it was time to give back. My book “How To Beat Infertility” is a guide through the lessons and changes to have successful IVF treatment. 100% of the sales from the book will go into fertility research and to help other couples have a family.
How does it feel to get the dreaded Infertility Diagnosis?
How my wife and I found out I am infertile.
“The chances of you having children are one in a million. You might as well stop trying naturally” said the world’s grumpiest fertility doctor to my wife and I. It was September 2014, and we had just visited a fertility clinic in Berlin to find out why Olivia wasn’t preggers yet. Frequent fornication during my wife’s fertile days had proved fruitless so we decided to see a fertility specialist. After multiple tests, we were insensitively greeted with the worst news of our lives. I was infertile.
“What an absolute weapon”, I thought. Not only can I not have children naturally but this grumpy German cow has just told us to stop having sex. Just because she wasn’t getting any action, doesn’t mean that the rest of the world has to be celibate, I thought. I am not surprised that nobody was willing to have sex with her, she had a face like a pit bull licking piss off a nettle.
I somehow found humour in this dreary troglodytes delivery of such bad news but that was short lived as my wife understandably broke down into a ball of tears.
For someone that always dreamed of having children, being told you are infertile is like being told you have cancer. The next two years of our lives were the most challenging but ultimately rewarding of our lives. According to a World Health Organisation Infertility Study – 12% of couples have difficulties having children. Here is the WHO definition of infertility:
- Infertility is “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.”
- “Infertility is the inability of a sexually active, non-contracepting couple to achieve pregnancy in one year. The male partner can be evaluated for infertility or subfertility using a variety of clinical interventions, and also from a laboratory evaluation of semen.”
We were one of the unlucky couples that make up that statistic. Luckily enough, I can still have sex and have sex drive contrary to the unsolicited advice that the German Ogre gave me.
For reasons unbeknownst to me, my swimmers aren’t that good at swimming. They should really be called floaters and not swimmers. They can doggy paddle(a little) but they are a far cry from multiple Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps. If you have ever seen Sperm whales sleep then you might get a better understanding of the problem that lies deep within my testicles.
With my first sperm test, I discovered that I had multiple unexplained issues with my sperm. The quantity was fine it was the morphology and motility that was the issue.
After my infertility diagnosis, I was really embarrassed by the results and took the news badly. For no apparent reason, I was infertile and there was nothing that I could do. I was devastated and so was Olivia.
Here are the parameters for Healthy Sperm – Infertility Diagnosis
|Semen Analysis Parameter||Normal Values|
|Volume||1.5 ml or more|
|pH||> or equal to 7.2|
|Sperm concentration||15,000,000/ml or more|
|Total motility||40% or more|
|Progressive motility||32% or more|
|Morphology||4% or more normal forms (Strict criteria)|
|Vitality||58% or more live|
|White blood cells||Less than 1,000,000/ml|
After the infertility diagnosis, I was given the breakdown of my sperm quality. The motility concentration was around 5%. This was much below the average value of 40%. Motility is the ability of the sperm to move forward and reach the egg for fertilisation. With such a low percentage, the chances of a natural pregnancy are very slim. The next issue that I had was with the morphology. Morphology is the shape of the sperm. There should be about 4% normal rate of sperm. My results were miserably less than 1%.
Over the next two years, I visited many fertility specialists and my results fluctuated greatly. I gave five sperm samples over the two years of fertility treatment. Sometimes the results were the same and sometimes they were a little bit better. For my final sperm test before our third IVF treatment, I saw drastic improvements. My motility was almost 20% and the morphology was 2%. I know that this is still below average but it was an improvement. We went through three heartbreaking IVF treatments. Two were massive failures and one was a rip-roaring success. For our third and final IVF treatment, I made a lot of positive changes to my life. You can read about the changes I made here. I feel that these changes were the reason for the successful IVF treatment.
I will never forget the day when I got the news that I was infertile. It was the 6th of September 2014 and my brother John was visiting from Dublin. It was a beautiful sunny day, so we decided to cycle out to a lake called Tegeler See in the North West of Berlin.
It was midweek and the sun was splitting the stones and my brother and I pretty much had the lake to ourselves. We were swimming in the lakes clear water, not too far from the shore. I could hear my phone began ringing from the bank. There was no way that I could swim back in, dry my hands and answer the phone on time, so I let the phone ring out. It rang again, and then I realised that it must be important.
I swam back to the beach and saw two missed calls from my Olivia on the display. I called her back and she answered immediately. She was crying down the phone and I couldn’t really understand what she was saying. Eventually, she cleared her throat and explained the bad news that she had received. It looked like I was infertile and we would have to go back to the fertility clinic for more tests.
A dark cloud metaphorically blocked out what was an otherwise sunny day. My body went numb and time seemed to stand still for a couple of minutes. I remember looking at my brother lying on his beach towel and my mind being blank. He was unaware of our situation and I told him that we were trying to have family and it looked like I was infertile. He consoled me and I tried to block out the bad news and enjoy the day with my brother. It wasn’t until he flew back to Ireland the next day that the bad news really sunk in.
Initially, I took it very badly. My first reaction was to give up smoking. The nicotine withdrawals combined with the bad news sent my body into shock. In a matter of days, I got serious flu that lasted for a week. I ended up bedridden and seriously depressed. I barely left our apartment and I couldn’t hide the feeling of inadequacy and shame. Men are put on this earth to reproduce and have a family. It was at that very low moment that I realised how much I wanted a family
After a week of hell and feeling sorry for myself I knew that it was time to get my shit together and do everything in my power to have a family. We decided that we would try IVF three times and if that did not work then we would adopt. I had already hit rock bottom and planned for the worst-case scenario. That was a life without my own children and going down an alternate route. There are thousands of children that need a home. Whether it be a foster child or adopted child I would not stop until we had a family. It became my focus and I wouldn’t rest until I could provide that for my wife.
First things first, we decided that we would give IVF a try. With male factor infertility, ICSI is the prefered method of assisted reproduction.
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