Alright I’ll admit it. There is more to my new found drive to lose weight than simply wanting to be healthy and feel better about myself. I keep reading over and over about a possible link between obesity and male infertility. While I don’t buy for one second my weight is the root cause for my infertility…it may well be a secondary factor in making my condition much worse than it needs to be.
The whole purpose of the testicles residing in the scrotum is to regulate their temperature for optimum production. I look at my situation below and my balls are basically incubating between too large thighs all day long. A perfect condition for roasting nuts, and not at all an ideal situation for sperm production.
There is also that small varicocele my Urologist found. All these questions on what to do next. Do I go ahead with a surgery with another uncertain outcome? Shall I walk around with ice packs shoved down the front of my pants all day long? Should I invest in Snowballs, underwear designed to keep the family jewels cool? Or do I commit myself to losing the weight?
With the bank account begging for mercy, I weighed my options. Although surgery could see an improvement, and insurance would cover part of the costs, that’s another $1000 or more out of my pocket. A debt I’d be happy to take on if there was a good chance of the surgery leading to an improved sperm count. Even if the improvement was only enough raise my chances for the next IVF round to work, surgery would be worth it. Right now with too many unknowns, this is another shot in the dark just like those HCG injections that work for some men, but not for me. So I’m holding off on the surgery.
Forcibly cooling the area with ice packs or specially designed underwear sounds promising on the surface. But this is just another one of those crazy infertile ideas like when I tried using a depilatory cream on the sack under the same reasoning. That crazy idea lead to several days of agony. Ice packs in the pants will definitely be uncomfortable and would need to be worn continuously for 3 months before finding out if this treatment is even working. I’m not walking around with my junk on ice for another long shot.
That left me with weight loss. It’s something I need to do and the hope of increasing my fertility is certainly additional motivation to keep me focused. I already had the weight set just sitting in the spare room, so there is little in additional cost required. I’ve found a work out buddy who is at the same level of strength as myself. This option just seemed to fall into place.
For me, the biggest reason I’m going with weight loss is that if in the end my fertility doesn’t increase, I’ll still feel good about accomplishing something. I can put my energy into a task where the results will be good, or could be great. Right now I need this, because few paths on the infertility journey have a lesser outcome that is still a benefit. I need a vacation from the heartbreak or euphoria result set. And if weight loss does result in some form of an increased sperm count, I’ll feel much better about going under the knife to improve my fertility further.
I’m 3 weeks into my weight loss plan. Although the flaky home scale says I either lost 2 more pounds or stayed the same this week depending on its mood, I’m down another belt notch and see a big difference all over my body that my plan is in fact working. I’m also feeling a lot better and seeing a noticeable increase in my energy level.
Finally a journey that only looks up. The only question that remains is, how high?
Last week began the start of my new weightlifting routine. Having lifted weights in high school I’m not a novice, however I probably would have been better off if I were.
I remembered much of what I learned in my class years ago. Starting with weights that weren’t too heavy. Focusing on my form and breathing during the exercise routines. Surprised myself by finding that my abs are still in good shape. Worked my right and left obliques, crunches and crunch leg raise combos, all together about 120 reps total and still wasn’t pushing very hard to avoid injury. (A gift from my gymnastics and tae kwon do instructors, the evil bastards.) Anyway, if I can eliminate this spare tire I know there is a nice set of abs underneath just waiting to be shown off.
The next day I felt pretty good. A little sore as I expected, but nothing too uncomfortable and the slight soreness reminded me the muscles were busy repairing themselves. I could feel my body burning energy instead of storing it as fat.
When I woke up the 2nd morning, that’s when the DOMS hit. What are DOMS? It stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. OW! No, that’s not good enough…
I couldn’t hold my arms straight. Reaching for a coffee cup was near impossible. I had no choice but to walk around for two days holding my arms at an angle like a gorilla. It was painful driving to work, putting on my shoes…anything that required extending my arm was torture!
I searched for the heating pad only to find and remember Bandit had chewed the cord as a puppy. Finally I found an almost empty tube of IcyHot that brought some relief. Coupled with ibuprofen I was finally able to go to sleep that night.
I don’t recall going through this much pain when I started lifting weights in high school. Maybe the instructor had started us on a lower weight than I remembered to avoid this situation. Luckily I’m reading that once you’ve broken the muscle in again, the likelihood of dealing with DOMS after future workouts is far less.
Now I’m feeling pretty good. Surprisingly I’m excited about exercising and for once I don’t dread doing it. Having a workout partner is a big help.
So far I’ve lost 3.5 pounds between diet and exercise. I’m not expecting those results every week, but I am encouraged by it. More exciting is I’m down a belt loop and I’m no longer teetering on the brink of requiring a bigger belt.
Thanks everyone for the encouragement. I’ve got a long road ahead of me, but I’m confident I can get where I’d like to be.
I’m amazed how my search engine referrers have tripled this past week. Unfortunately most of them I’ve already answered. There are still a few gems worth highlighting, so lets take a look.
— poems about it’s not easy being green
— a dream lost by matthew wanner
WOW! I guess my poems have touched some people and the word is spreading. I’m flushed with a totally nonsexual warm fuzzy feeling. Thanks you guys!
— embryos sperm kick in day
I’m not an expert, but my RE stated the DNA from the sperm kicks in after the 3rd day. It’s sort of like marriage on a micro scale. Once the two are joined, the female gets busy working while the male just sits on the couch playing games. Eventually the female needs help and hands the male a list of chores, which he does to keep the female happy. If the male can’t get off the couch the marriage ends.
— i am sale to my own ivf
WHAT? If you figure out how to sell IVF to yourself let me know. I would give myself a big discount.
— give injection needle to my wife as a punshment
😯 This is a blog about fertility, or rather infertility, not S&M. I’m not one to judge, but couldn’t you just use whips or spanking during your bondage? Different strokes for different folks I guess. Just makes sure she’s cool with it first…and remember to use a “SAFE” word…and use sterile needles.
Are you sure you love your wife?
On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I was feeling pretty good. I’d just finished taking Bandit for a walk and the three of us were sitting on the couch enjoying a movie when my phone buzzed. The wife is the only person I text with on a regular basis, and since she was sitting next to me…I was curious who it was from. I picked up the phone and saw, “Text from +1 (555) 555-8203.” Okay the 5’s were really other numbers, but you get the point it was a completely strange number to me.
Me: “Babe, Do you recognize this number?”
Wife: “Uh, no”
Naturally I unlocked my phone and saw…
At which point my Jealous Infertile Demon burst out of its cage and immediately started typing…
Thanks you jerk for reminding me I can’t have children and completely ruining my day by sending your baby picture to the wrong number!
Before he was able to hit “send” I managed to wrestle the phone away and quickly deleted the message. He was raging with fury and I knew I had to get this demon back in restraints before he hurt someone!
“Now look here JID, you’re not going to tell off some stranger for sending you a baby picture! They have no idea you’re infertile. They aren’t doing this to you on purpose. Get a grip!”
The Demon just stared me down. Seeing the wisdom, but he would not be appeased. In a flash the phone was snatched from my hands and he grunted, “Then they must be educated.”
Cute baby, but you should be more careful who you send these pictures too. I recently found out I won’t be able to have kids of my own and your mistake is causing me a lot of pain…
“NO!” I shouted in my head as we fought for control of the phone. “You’re not doing that either! It’s probably some grandparent happily sending photos to friends and sent it to you by mistake! These are your issues! There is no reason to make these folks feel bad over a simple mistake! Let them be happy…”
To my surprise the Demon was now cowering back in his cage. Swiftly I closed the door and set the latch. Then proceeded to erase what was written.
Exhausted by the struggle, the tears began to flow. I mustered my remaining courage and wrote…
Cute kid, wrong number
And pressed SEND.
Arriving at the clinic for our WTF meeting I was surprisingly calm. I thought I felt calm. Maybe I’m just emotionally numb by now, because according to my bowels I was feeling really stressed. They threatened to force me into canceling this appointment. Thankfully the wife keeps a pharmacy in her purse for common ailments.
What I really like about our Doctor is how he explains the process for anyone to understand. He restated how our situation is mainly due to very low sperm count. How we tried to increase production and it didn’t work forcing us straight into IVF and ICSI. Yada yada, rinse repeat…heard all this already…same info you said last time. Unfortunately this need to explain the process leads to repeating himself.
Finally I interrupted asking, “How low?” I’m tired of guessing what my count is based on a couple of reports I’m not sure I’m even reading correctly.
“A few thousand.” Wow! Here I was thinking it was a few dozen. Maybe I’m not as bad off as I originally thought. Maybe it might be worth trying IVF again. Maybe I might actually have a kid that is mine. Maybe…
“The most likely reason for this failure is the poor quality of sperm.” Nice kick Doc. Right in the balls. Right square in the balls. Just after I let down my guard too. Well played.
“During fertilization the egg itself has everything it needs the first 3 days to grow. After that the embryo requires the information from the sperm to continue growing.” Basically not only am I producing a low number of sperm, but the ones I am producing are worthless. Great! And here I thought I couldn’t feel any lower about my reproductive ability.
We discussed another IVF cycle which he did agree my wife could stay on her anxiety medication during it. A big win that right now I’m in too much pain to enjoy.
We talked about the options of donor sperm and donor embryos. Both of which I have reservations about. We discussed using my father as a donor and what requirements would be needed to make that happen.
Then he brought up the option of a split IVF. Once they retrieve the eggs they would fertilize half the eggs with my sperm and the other half with donor sperm. This option would allow me to still have a shot of being a father with my lackluster sperm, and still increase our chances on a successful IVF with a donor who has better sperm.
It’s an interesting option. The wife and I have a lot to discuss. Which feels a lot better than just waiting around. Pardon me while I go put ice on my groin.
The last few days have been really difficult. The battle of emotion has a winner and the victor is fear. You have no idea how hard it is for me even to admit I’m afraid. It is not an emotion guys talk about unless it relates to a funny story we are telling, or a lesson to learn from it. For men, fear is something you overcome and move on, not an emotion you dwell on during or after the fact.
The only reason I’m even admitting my fear is my commitment to making this blog an honest representation of my feelings. I generally try to find the humor in life. If you have read this blog from the beginning you will notice I don’t shy away from the story just because there is nothing humorous to be said. There was nothing funny about the day the Urologist told me modern medicine couldn’t fix my severe male factor infertility. Nor the day we found out none of the 4 embryos we didn’t transfer were able to be frozen. And right now there is nothing funny about the fear I am feeling regarding this test to see if my wife is actually pregnant. Had the doctor’s been able to freeze a couple of embryos, that would have been a safety net for us. But that safety net was taken down, leaving us with nothing to keep the fear at bay. The reality is this will be our one and only chance at having a child that is mine.
But there is still the fork in the road ahead of us. Every plan for the future rests on the result of this test. Making every conversation have two answers. One if we are pregnant, the other if we are not. With every 2 part answer the fear I’m feeling is growing stronger and stronger. The embryo is now 11dp3dt, long enough that any pregnancy should be detectable with a First Response Early Result test. But we will have to keep giving her the progesterone shots until we have the blood test on Monday. If the FRER comes back negative, it will be very hard to continue those shots.
I’m left contemplating which is the braver course. Do I face the fear and have her take a home test now? Knowing we would still need to do the PIO shots with a negative result. Is it chicken to want to delay facing this result for a few more days? Am I looking at this completely wrong and the reverse is true? That the easy route is to find out now, and the braver action would be dealing with this fear a few more days. I don’t know the answer and I don’t think there is a universally correct one. I just know there is an individual answer for the two of us. An answer that keeps changing on me as the minutes tick by.
In infertilish it is known as the dreaded 2ww. The two weeks between embryo transfer and your “beta” blood test to see if you are in fact pregnant. I’ve read several blogs talking about this period of time and felt prepared to handle these two weeks. Oh, how wrong I was.
Think back to a time when there was a date in your future you were really excited about like Christmas or the start of that special vacation. Remember how excited you were and how you could not wait for that day to arrive. Then think about a time when a date in your future was something you were loathing. For example a final exam on a subject you were struggling with, or that blind date your mother made for you. Remember the anxiety and fear as the date approached and how the date just kept approaching. On the one hand you never wanted the date to arrive, and on the other you just wanted to get it over with. Now imagine if both events were on the same day, then multiply it by a factor of 10. I have never been so excited for, and at the same time dreaded a single date in my entire life.
I now understand why women go crazy and want to start peeing on everything knowing the result is meaningless at this point. I’m feeling the same way. I want to drink a bucket of water and pee on every stick in the county area just to feel like I’m doing something. I know this sounds ridiculous, but right now a meaningless answer seems better than no answer and logically I can’t figure out why that is the case.
You can try to take your mind off of it for a while. I planned on doing a lot of swimming over the weekend to help clear my head. Mother nature decided to rain all weekend squashing those plans. We tried watching a movie Sunday night. Wanting to watch something we haven’t seen before, I turned on “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” thinking it would be a fun distraction. How was I supposed to know the movie ends with Harold’s wife taking a pregnancy test?
My poor wife is not only having to deal with these emotions, but also the progesterone in oil (PIO) is making her feel like crap. The only relief I have found is knowing I’m not the only one ever having to suffer through this. Connecting with others currently suffering the 2ww. And watching this video over and over again…
(edit: I think I like this one even better)
Last night we went to bed both a bit scared. We only had 5 embryos and they were considered to be in poor condition. The wife hauled my butt out of bed 5 minutes before my alarm even had a chance to go off. We were concerned about getting to the office an hour before so the wife could take her Valium and drink the water she needed for the procedure. Coupled with the concerns from the report yesterday it was a nervous trip for both of us. The highlight for me was passing the billboard of a vasectomy doctor, knowing I’ll never need to worry about needing that done.
We arrive at the hospital. She takes her medication and drinks the bottle of water while we kill time in the gift shop before taking the elevator up to the office. While waiting in the waiting room, the Valium is slowly turning my wife into a paranoid goofball. She starts giggling for no apparent reason. Followed by asking me how her hair looks and if everyone one is laughing at her because of it. She then goes on and on about this pretty bird figurine she found in the gift shop. I thought, I’ll buy that for her while she is having the transfer done. She then tells me, “You could buy that bird figurine for me during the transfer.” Son of a bitch. The Valium turned her into a mind reader.
The nurse calls her name and informs us our primary Doctor wants to do the transfer himself and is running an hour late. She then asks how her bladder is feeling. The answer she got wasn’t the one she was looking for and hands my wife another cup of water to drink.
Now my wife really has to pee. I really have to pee and won’t because I would feel guilty. And she can’t even listen to her relaxation tape because it has the sounds of birds and waterfalls. Finally they call us back to see the doctor.
First we ask him about my wife still dealing with pain, to which he responded, “Well we poked her in the ovaries pretty good getting the eggs. Since the ovaries in females are the same organs as testicles are in males, it’s the same as getting kicked really hard in the gonads.” I love this doctor! Then he gives us the news.
Overnight one of them grew to a 7C, which made the doctor really happy. Another egg that wasn’t doing anything yesterday decided it was finally a good time to start, so that gave us a total of 6 embryos. With the 7C the doctor felt pretty good about just using 2 embryos for the transfer. That’s what we did. We transferred the 7C and a 3C that the embryologist felt pretty good about into my wife. We will let the other 4 continue to grow. If they are still viable by Friday they will freeze them for later use if we need them. We are hoping for 2 or 3 to make it to that stage.
So now we are feeling pretty good. They take her back for the transfer, I head to the restroom, then down to the lobby to buy her the figurine she wanted. Turns out, her bladder was too full. This required a delicate operation of her going, but not completely going until the bladder was the size they are looking for to perform the procedure. I have no idea why this is important, but I guess it must be. The catheter this time did not cause her any pain, which she was very happy about.
We leave the hospital with instructions for my wife to lay in the back seat with her butt raised by a pillow. It is not a very comfortable back seat for laying down on. Even though I was trying to drive very carefully, every bump or turn brought another groan from the backseat. Finally she yells, “I don’t like this, it feels like a roller coaster” And that’s what this IVF process has felt like. An up and down journey of hopes and fears.
The wife is resting and feeling much better. They instructed her to stay in bed with her butt elevated today as much as possible. Now all we can do is hope for the best. Our first blood test is September 17. That is when we will find out if one of the embryos is attached and still growing.
After 4 weeks of poking myself in the stomach every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I finally had my blood test to see if the HCG is increasing the testosterone levels. Which I didn’t need a blood test to confirm they had, but it’s nice to have confirmation. That means 8 more weeks for a total of 24 more shots I get to give myself.
As an added bonus, the rich folks trying to lose weight drove the price up again. Now it is more expensive to poke myself each time.
The final torture, and the reason I already knew my testosterone increased…my libido is through the roof! I went from wanting it all the time to needing it all the time. While my wife is on medication with the side effect of suppressing her libido.
It maybe the way I’m administering the shot is different from how you would if you are wanting to achieve weight-loss, but I haven’t seen any weight reduction.
I scheduled my date with the folding chair at the beginning of June, so we shall see.