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Balls!

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?

© copyright 2011-2013

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Is Santa Claus an Infertile?

I’m beginning to think Santa Claus is a poor infertile who’s lost his marbles.

Santa loves kids, yet he doesn’t have any of his own. Why is that? (No I don’t believe for one minute Jenny McCarthy is Santa’s kid.) I feel guilty even asking Santa this question, knowing how I would rather be kicked in the groin than answer that one again. I’m marking this exhibit A.

A. Childless, but loves kids.

As an infertile, I’m always aware of a child’s behavior. I’ve spent so long watching how other parents would deal with behavioral situations, hoping to learn something, now I can’t help but spot a behavior and label it naughty or nice. Then consider how I would support good behavior and curb bad behavior. Sound familiar?

B. Obsessed with behavior in other people’s children.

There just is no way to live in society as an infertile and not be affected by this fact on a daily basis. Go to work…BAM! Pregnant woman walking down the hall. Go to the store…BAM! Mothers and children everywhere you look. I can’t even go to the dentist without having to face my infertility. How do you escape dealing with this painful reminder every day?

C. Lives in isolation 11 months of the year.

Many infertile’s compensate for not having children by adopting pets to love and spoil. I don’t think Bandit realizes he’s a dog. My wife keeps calling him baby and he is always wanting to eat our food instead of his own.

Santa has a lot of pets. More exotic than a dog for sure. Some infertile’s like dogs, some like cats, Santa loves reindeer. They only work once a year and spend the rest of the time laughing and playing reindeer games.

D. Has fur babies. 

When faced with infertility, understandably many fall into a depressive state. When depressed it’s hard to summon the willpower to resist food temptations. I’ve always had trouble resisting homemade cookies. But I remember when I could be satisfied eating a couple of them and walking away. Now I can’t resist a plate of cookies and won’t be satisfied until the plate is empty. Stick on me a white beard and wig, throw me in a red suit and soon I could be St. Nick without the need for any padding. Ugh.

E. Can’t resist finishing off a plate of cookies.

Every infertile has dealt with someone trying to make them feel better by stating they could be a mother or father to their friends kids. While your friends kids are cute, it’s just not the same as having our own children. But we suffer the birthday parties and special events for the the sake of the child and our friendship. For some reason many think we must have a picture taken with their child, like that would help lift our spirits.

F. Millions of pictures with the children of strangers.

I feel I’m forever going to miss out on the magic of Christmas with a child. I can’t buy gifts, wrap them up in fancy paper, and set them out for display on Christmas eve for my child to wake up in the morning and have their eyes light up. Donating a gift to Toys for Tots only gets you so far in fulfilling this desire. You can’t wrap the gift, nor display the gift.

I don’t blame Santa for wanting to break into peoples homes and participate in making children happy. He’s lucky his magic keeps him from getting caught like I know I would.

Santa lives in hiding while the elves make the toys and put together the list. He passes the time working and playing games with his fur babies. Travels the world one night a year bringing joy to millions of kids. Greeted at each house with a plate of cookies and kisses from countless mothers. He comes home to a loving wife and starts the process over again for next year.

I’d certainly be a lot more jolly despite my infertility with a job like that.

© copyright 2011-2012

Dear IVFmale, Other Search Terms?

Howdy folks. Well unlike last week when the cupboard was bare, this week was a cornucopia of new search requests. Let’s jump right in shall we…

—“my testosterone increased”

Well whoop-ti freakin do! Now I don’t say that to put you down, only to make you cautious. You see, my testosterone increased while on hCG too. Two months later my sperm count actually went down. What I don’t know for sure is why it went down. It may have been the hCG, or could have just been a bad time for me. There is also the possibility about a week before my S/A test, I had the brilliant idea to keep the sperm factory cool by removing all the hair in the area using a depilatory cream…which, as it turns out, is a BAD IDEA. Don’t do it! Try to keep the crazy infertile thoughts at bay.

Anyway, I hope you have better luck, but don’t get your hopes up like I did.

—condoms used in fertility clinics

They have loads of condoms in fertility clinics. Every time my wife had to get an ultrasound with Mr. Dildowand they used a condom. But did they think to provide me with one to use for my sperm collection? Hell no! Do you know how much easier the whole process would have been if I could have collected into a condom instead of trying to work it with one hand, hold the cup in the other hand, all the while worried about missing the cup and having to do it all over again a few days later? The targeting isn’t very accurate. If you’re lucky they will have a sign in the room saying you can request one if needed. But honestly, by the time you notice the sign you’re halfway there already. We’re guys! We don’t ask for directions, why would they think we would be willing to ask them for a condom? Just leave one on the counter next to a sign saying, “Use it if you need it!” Sheesh.

I could go on all day about this topic, but other people need help.

—wife doing ivf become a complete bitch

I know I’ve answered this before, but I thought this was a good example of how to clearly state your problem to Mr. Google to get a result that may actually benefit you.

You don’t say. It’s the medication talking! I know it feels like a long couple of weeks, but you’ll be fine. I’m sure you’re buddy will be more than happy to hide your weapons collection for a few days.

—unmarried couple having a baby through ivf

This is what bothered me about having to wait 6 months to use donor sperm from someone you knew, but not married to. I honestly don’t know what the requirements are for going through IVF if you’re not married. But my RE did clarify that the 6 month wait was for donors from people you’re not having sex with. It’s all pretty vague to me. Do you have to sign some legal paper saying person X and person Y are regularly having sex and are exempt from the 6 month waiting period? I’m not sure how they checked we are married. I may have needed our marriage license in the beginning, but I don’t recall.

Either way you can still have a baby using ivf. The only questionable point is if the male partner can donate using fresh sperm, or if the doctors must follow the procedures outlined by the FDA and go the frozen route. Assuming of course your are in the United States. If you reside in a different country, your doctor should know what laws they must follow. It’s best if you ask the reproductive specialist these questions.

—Other Search Terms
—Uknown Search Terms

Now a few weeks ago I received this one and I ignored it as a fluke. But this week it popped up on my list again…twice. What the hell are you looking for? And why are you compelled to click on a link to a blog about infertility?

Or did the search term get lost and Google provided a generic “Other Search Terms” as filler. Maybe these are what Google provides us when the privacy mode is turned on. If that’s the case…it is entirely unfair and is depriving me of being able to poke fun at them! Hmph!

Any ideas what this could possibly mean?

© copyright 2011-2012

Wife Pressed!

I’ve found blogging to be a big help dealing with the emotions throughout this process. The problem I’m facing is previously there was always a new step in the process to talk about. A funny story to share about an uncomfortable Urology visit, or being attacked by an overhead cabinet. Now I’m struggling with what to write about without every post turning into, “woes is me…I’m infertile and IVF didn’t do donkey balls to help me.”

The Dear Ivfmale posts are fun to write. But it’s really hit or miss if I have anything good to talk about.  Twice now I’ve given up and posted something anyway, just to have a plethora of search gems pop up later that day. So I decided to start participating in the weekly “Daily Post Challenge” to keep the blog interesting and relevant to it’s purpose about issues dealing with infertility.

But another part of me wanted to do these challenges in hopes of getting Freshly Pressed. I know I can bring the emotion and I’m pretty sure if the right people would read one of these posts, it would be a good candidate for being selected. Sure it’s simply an ego boost. Frankly, after the dark thoughts running through my head this past weekend, I’m not ashamed to admit I need some ego boosting right now.

So I wrote the poem and posted it hoping that maybe being Freshly Pressed, it might raise my confidence and make me feel there is more to my future than just having a child.

With all the positive comments the poem received, it was a big help in bringing me out of my funk. I felt maybe I do have a shot at being chosen.

Then on Tuesday, my wife read the poem. She loved it! She loved it so much she posted it to her Facebook not caring who read it. It doesn’t matter hardly anyone has clicked her link. It doesn’t matter whether I’m chosen to be Freshly Pressed or not. I was Wife Pressed. She loves my poem and she loves me. And that’s all that really matters.

© copyright 2011-2012

MFI Condoms

Struggling with how to tell your girlfriend you suffer from male factor infertility? Unsure how to bring up the topic in conversation? Scared how she will react to the news? Or just tired of being asked to wear a condom to avoid pregnancy, when you know it isn’t doing a god damn thing?

Introducing MFI Condoms!

Picture the scene. An intimate evening, together in each others arms. She whispers in your ear, “Put on a condom.” Choose a MFI Condom and watch the magic happen!

Scientifically designed so the tip tears open, allowing you to enjoy the moment as nature intended. When finished, discretely dispose of the condom. If she notices the condom broke, calmly explain there is no risk of pregnancy because of your male factor infertility. Then watch her rejoice in your ability to shoot blanks!

Warnings.

  • Using MFI Condoms orally may result in the end of your relationship.
  • Not intended to prevent HIV or STD’s.
  • Only use spermicide with MFI Condoms if you plan on blaming it for the condom breaking. You’re infertile, you don’t need spermicide!
  • Do not use if either you or your partner is allergic to latex. We do carry a non-latex product at double the price.
  • Do not try blowing up MFI Condoms using air or water. Hand it to your buddy and watch it pop in his face.
  • Ask your doctor if you are healthy enough for sexual activity
  • If an erection lasts longer that 4 hours, seek medical attention.
  • Ivfmale Inc. is not responsible if you are caught because you were stupid enough not to hide the wrapper with the warning label “This Product does not prevent pregnancy.” The FDA makes us put that warning on the wrapper. That’s what the blank stickers provided were for.
  • Shameless plug for Dpchallenge.
  • Results may vary. Some women be crazy.
  • Product was not intended to be used by women to trick fertile men into getting them pregnant.
  • If pregnancy does result from use of product. First get a DNA test to make sure the baby is yours! If results are positive, cherish that miracle everyday, because you likely will not get another one.

Get your woman to celebrate your male factor infertility. Ask your doctor about MFI Condoms!
Available only by prescription.
For a limited time only. Free IQ test with each refill order.

© copyright 2011-2012

Dear Ivfmale, Poetry

It’s Wednesday, so lets see what the search engine report has for me this week. Hmm, not much.

—my wife is not commited to ivf

Sounds like my ex-wife. She would be gung-ho about some together project in the beginning, and half way through it she would lose interest leaving me to finish the job. I imagine if I found out about my infertility back then, I would likely be in the situation you are right now. The ivf process is very hard on a woman’s body and emotional state. Pushing her into a decision she isn’t committed to will only backfire. The stimulation meds will guarantee this. Take time to build up your savings and see if she comes around.

—ivf with new puppy

Not sure what you are looking for here. I’ve found the new puppy to be a good distraction. He will keep you busy playing, peeing on the rug, chewing on things he shouldn’t, there is always something to do or watch for with a new puppy. Although it may complicate the already complicated schedule of stimulation drugs and doctor appointments, you will be thankful for the puppy’s ability to demand your attention.

————

That’s it? Maybe better luck next week. Anyway, I’m really excited my poem was reblogged by Barrenart yesterday. Check her blog out. I think this is a brilliant idea to have an Infertile Art Gallery of sorts. Since it’s a slow search week and I’m feeling inspired, I leave you another poem that I’ve been pondering…

Male Factor Condoms

By Matthew Wanner

Purchased in bulk.
Hating each one of you.
Protecting plans for the future.
Suffering Awkwardness

All for nothing.
Hating each one of you.
Avoided buying stereo.
Money flushed down toilet.

Crap! No refunds.

Happy Humpday!

© copyright 2011-2012

Another kick in the gonads.

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.

© copyright 2011-2012

Infertility and Faith

Let me preface this by saying I am not mocking anyone for having faith in the Lord and that is not the intent of this post. I grew up going to Church every Sunday with my Parents, Grandparents, or Aunt, and sometimes even by myself on the bus from my Church for kids who wanted to go and the parents didn’t for whatever reason. As I grew older I grew distant from the Church. There were even times in my life I’ve flat-out rejected religion. However, I’ve settled on believing a relationship with the Lord is important for many people, but I can’t look at the Bible and not see a book written by men with all the mistakes men make.

I tell you this so you understand the background I’m coming from for what I’m about to write. When people say they are praying for us, my wife and I are truly touched. For someone to take the time in their relationship with the Lord to think about us means a lot. I feel the same for those who simply say they are thinking of us and find comfort in those words. Many thanks to all of you from the bottom of my heart.

But for the ones who’ve said (paraphrasing), “Have faith and the Lord will bless you if he wills it,” those words cut deeper than any blade ever could. To claim that our faith or lack of it is the reason we don’t have kids, while we watch others lie, cheat, and steal for drugs, then get pregnant and end up just aborting it. It’s asinine and downright cruel to say that to an infertile person.

Let’s take a brief look at the Bible regarding the infertility story of Abram and Sarai. (If you want the full story, read the Bible or click the link)

God told Abram (age 75) to take his wife Sarai (age 65) and nephew Lot to Canaan. The group travels to Egypt first where Abram tells Sarai to lie and tell the Pharaoh that Abram is her brother. Once the Pharaoh looked upon his beautiful wife, the Pharaoh would likely kill Abram to take Sarai, so this lie prevented Sarai from watching Abram die. The Pharaoh took Sarai into his service thinking she wasn’t wed. God then afflicted the Pharaoh’s household with great plagues, realizing Sarai and Abram were married and demanded they leave.

After living in Canaan for ten years with no kids, Sarai told Abram to take as a mistress her servant Hagar in the hopes she may give him children. At the age of 86 Abram becomes a father to Ishmael from Hagar. Hagar no longer respects Sarai and Sarai is jealous of Hagar being able to provide Abram with a child.

When Abram is 99, God blessed Abram as “Abraham, a father of many nations” and his wife now called “Sarah.” Sarah overhears a visitor telling Abraham how Sarah will have a child upon his return the next year, to which Sarah laughs at the idea of having a kid at 89. A year later Abraham (age 100) and Sarah (age 90) gives birth to Isaac. Sarah dies at the age of 127. Abraham takes another wife, pumps out a few more kids and dies at the age of 175.

It’s a lovely story, but there is no way a 65-year-old woman is so hot a Pharaoh would kill to have her. They didn’t even have Botox for crying out loud. And don’t give me that stupid explanation that people lived longer in those days. The ages just don’t add up.

  • Leave  Ur:  Abram 75, Sarai 65
  • Ishmael birth: Abram 86, Sarai 76
  • Isaac birth: Abraham 100, Sarah 90
  • Death: Abraham 175, Sarah 127

Maybe they just calculated years differently in those days and no one bothered to adjust the ages in these texts when those measurements were changed. Now I’m just talking out loud and I certainly haven’t done the research to support this claim. But I know the Babylonians were the first ones to start charting the moon. I also know how the ancients civilizations love the number 7. I asked myself, what if they considered a year to be 7 moon cycles in those times. Leaving me with the formula:

Modern age = (Biblical Age * 29 days * 7 cycles) / 365 days per year

Now lets look at those ages using the calculation above.

  • Leave Ur: Abram 41, Sarai 36
  • Ishmael birth: Abram 47, Sarai 42
  • Isaac birth: Abraham 55, Sarah 50
  • Death: Abraham 97, Sarah 70

Which makes more sense? A Pharaoh willing to kill over a hot 65-year-old woman or a 36-year-old one? That a woman was surprised to be giving birth at the age of 90, or 50? That Abraham lived to the old age of 175 or the age of 97?

The same is true about Sarah’s infertility. If Sarah was alive today she would go through a number of tests and doctors would know what the problem is. Statistically her chances were lower than normal, but still possible. I just don’t see God saying now you’re good enough to have kids with your wife when Abraham had no problem with other woman. I see a man excited that his wife was finally pregnant and recorded history in the context of his understanding at the time.

Now take a look at this chart.

source

If I’m lucky, I’m putting out a dozen sperm in each ejaculate. I can’t zoom in close enough to point out how little chance I have to conceive naturally. The next time someone tells me to “Have faith, and the Lord will bless me if he wills it,” don’t be surprised if my response is “Have $15,000 to give me, because that is what it is going to take for God to even have a chance of willing it”

You know what I thank God for? I thank God that he made scientists smart enough to figure out how fertility works. That we no longer live in an age where the woman is always at fault for infertility as was the case for thousands of years. I don’t have to look at my wife wondering why we aren’t having kids, that I know exactly why.

The night before we got the results for our blood test, I prayed. I prayed like I haven’t done since I was a kid. I prayed that God bring comfort to my wife if the IVF didn’t work. I’m not sure why I prayed for that, it just felt like the right thing to pray for.

(Edit: Upon actually doing some research I realized I should be using 29, not 28 in my calculation.)
© copyright 2011-2012

Fork in the road

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.

To pass the time we’ve been doing some more autumn decorating. Despite my poor drawing ability, I’m happy with how the pumpkin fireplace turned out.

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.

© copyright 2011-2012

Dear Ivfmale, The good news and bad news

Well it is Wednesday and time for Dear Ivfmale. I’m afraid I have some bad news. My nifty search engine report contained no new search requests that I haven’t answered already. Just more people looking for sex doctors and male torture. The good news however is there’s no way that’s going to prohibit me from being helpful anyway. So to help my infertile brethren, I’m listing the pros and cons of Severe Male Factor Infertility.

BAD news
You have Male Factor Infertility and are practically shooting blanks.
GOOD news
You just fulfilled your teenage fantasy of having sex like crazy for a whole year.
BAD news
Having one of your chores be sex sounded a lot more fun when you were a teenager.
GOOD news
Baby making sex is now off that list and you can go back to making love to your wife.
BAD news
Your new chore is making love to a plastic cup…in a bathroom…on a folding chair.
GOOD news
You never have to worry about getting a vasectomy.
BAD news
You’ve wasted hundreds of dollars on condoms to avoid pregnancy.
GOOD news
Using ICSI and IVF you can actually have a child that is yours.
BAD news
The price tag with no guarantees.
GOOD news
You have doctor’s orders to start poking your wife in the butt.
BAD news
It’s with a big freaking needle that scares you as much as it scares her.
GOOD news
For once your wife doesn’t mind you looking at dirty magazines.
BAD news
Down the hall is a guy putting items into your wife’s fun zone. And you’re paying him for it.
GOOD news
Your wife is not enjoying this any more than you are.
BAD news
YOU BETTER START ENJOYING IT if you have any hope of providing your contribution into that plastic cup!
GOOD news
There is help for that folding chair fetish you’ve developed, I hope, I hope, I hope…

© copyright 2011-2012