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The Insemination Games

I’m really not good at speaking with strangers. Small talk just bores me to tears.  I gave up trying to socialize at bars, because I can’t stand it. I’ll sit there and watch two people carry on a conversation when clearly, to me, neither of them knows what the hell they are talking about. I’ve tried joining their conversation if the topic was one I found interesting. Politely steering them away from ideas like hurricanes are government conspiracies. Only to be looked at as the jerk for ruining their fun conversation of ignorance. Sure there are a few interesting people to talk to once in a while.  But you never know until you actually talk to them if they are a person who actually knows their facts, or one who just makes stuff up as they go. That being said, I do enjoy once in a while pretending to know more than I actually do. 

Obviously since I’m actually dealing with severe male factor infertility, I must know more than those who’ve actually studied it for years right. (Hey, quit ruining my fun and just go with it as fact!)

Anyways, during our meeting last Thursday with the doctor, I realised how fundamentally flawed the sperm selection process for ICSI truly is. The process is completely superficial.

The doctor explained the process to me and it goes something like this. The semen is taken out of the cup and spun around so the sperm cells are concentrated. Under a microscope, they find the sperm then add an agent to increase the viscosity of the liquid the sperm are swimming in. This slows the speed of the sperm allowing them to be caught and injected into an egg. How does the specialist choose which sperm to catch? The ones that “look good” based on experience and training of the person. Somehow they just know which sperm are healthy.

I immediately thought, “Well obviously looks aren’t everything or this wouldn’t be the reason for our failed IVF.” As the doctor moved onto topics my ADD found boring. I considered ways to isolate the few healthy ones (I’m sure I have some in there somewhere) from the duds. Just like searching for a good conversation at a bar, you can’t expect to find one just based on looks. Sure your chances of a good conversation are better with someone who looks healthy.  But would you really want to spend thousands of dollars looking for a good conversation for the next 20 years based on looking at the individual for only a few seconds?

Then I thought about how it happens naturally. The army of sperm is deposited in the arena. They fight and race for the finish line where there can be only one winner and the rest die. Nature has already figured out how to eliminate the unhealthy ones from the rest. Now that doesn’t mean the winner has the best DNA. We all have that one relative where we wonder how their sperm form ended up winning the race. But I’m guessing it is more likely to have what it takes to create a baby.

Why not have the Insemination Games? In the simplest form it would be a race.

Put whatever attracts sperm at the finish line and as they hit the viscous solution, pick from those for ICSI use. I would feel better about my chances if my sperm actually had to prove themselves in some fashion besides “looking good” to someone under a microscope. There has to be something out there.

While looking for information on poor sperm quality I found a new test that checks DNA fragmentation and there may be possible treatments to help reduce the oxidative stress causing the DNA fragmentation.  Now I’m left with how do I find which fertility firms are using this process and do I just go with them? Or do I contact our current doctor and see if they are considering an upgrade that could check for DNA fragmentation?

Where would I go to find this information? The internet isn’t being helpful and I feel weird asking our clinic to help us find another firm that is more advanced in treating Male Factor Infertility.

I guess I’ll just keep googling until I find something.

© copyright 2011-2012

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Do I dare hope?

It was 2 months before the fertility specialist could see us. Although my wife found this frustrating, it gave me a chance to recover. Plus it gave us time to read up on some of the options. Having my father donate appeared to be the best option for the both of us. Adoption and donor sperm from a stranger, are not for me. Every time someone would mistakenly compare the kids features to mine, would feel like a kick in the gut. Issues like do you tell the kid the truth, or questions about why the kid doesn’t look like me, these things just bother me. I know it’s irrational. I wish I was a stronger person to rise above this, but I’m not. On the one hand I know I would try my hardest to love and care for the child and raise it as my own. But there is this nagging feeling of uncertainty. Will I love him/her, or will I secretly resent him/her? Of course my every desire would be to love the child. But I’m not going to kid myself, I just do not know the answer to that question. For me, those options are off the table.

The other option we are considering is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). But what we are reading says the costs are around $20,000 dollars. I make a decent living, but crunching the numbers don’t look good. Our insurance doesn’t cover it, so although I could afford to have the child, there would be no money left to raise the child. And we are not even sure if it would be possible with my 2 swimmers.

We meet with the specialist. A very nice man. Seems to be on the quiet side, much like myself. He goes through the list of options for us and the pros and cons of each. I bring up the subject of using my father as a donor. He explains that it is an option, but federal law requires donor sperm to be frozen for 6 months before it can be used to be sure it doesn’t have HIV or hepatitis. If we were using sperm from a complete stranger, I’m in complete support. But in this case, that is just stupid. So an unmarried couple wants to have a kid through sex, no problem. Unmarried couple needs assistance through IVF or other means, 6 month quarantine. So the federal government is forcing an unmarried couple wanting to have kids to either 1. get married, or 2. wait the 6 months. Where I’m sure they have been having sex throughout the 6 months. In my opinion, that’s just stupid.

But then the doctor directs us to a process called Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Where they take a single sperm and inject it directly into an egg. Used in conjunction with IVF this would allow my sperm to be used regardless of the very low quantity I am producing.

Cautiously I ask, “How much?”

As it so happens, this clinic’s prices are reasonable and something we may actually be able to afford. We have lots to discuss. Hoping the tax return is a good one this year. But I must be careful. There is still a chance this may not work. But do I dare hope? Yes, how can one not?

© copyright 2011-2012