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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

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

Dear Ivfmale, Semen Meringue?

It’s Wednesday and time for Dear Ivfmale. Several interesting searches this week so let’s see what we have…

— kids playing “sex doctor” with each other

Go to your favorite search engine and type in “help with pedophile thoughts” and call the first doctor on this list in your area. Seriously, get some help.

—hcg doesn’t work for sperm now what

I’m glad you asked. First you get to pay off the inflated price of all those HCG drugs thanks to those folks using it to lose weight. Next depending on how low your count is the doctors may try collecting several samples to combine into a super sample inserted into your wife using an IUI procedure. Otherwise they are probably going to recommend IVF with the ICSI procedure if your count is as low as mine. Personally I would go for the IVF first and go for the cheaper options later when the bank account forces that on you. I would hate for my best option to be out of my price range when I would have been able to afford it several attempts prior. Unless insurance will help cover those other procedures then by all means go for those IUI’s or Natural IVF’s then.

—english woman &man how love each

This one broke my heart a little. It was on a slow day and this popped up on my report the same time I saw someone from Pakistan had viewed my blog. I believe love is a universal human emotion that transcends class, race and culture. It’s a word with many facets covering all the different forms of love. If you want a truly english perspective of love, watch the movie “Love Actually” if it is available to you. If you are looking for a better relationship with your husband, try searching for “How english women manipulate men.” Trick your husband into treating you better may allow for more communication between the two of you. From there you can work on building a loving relationship. Throughout history there have been many powerful women in male dominated societies. That power starts with learning how to manipulate men without them knowing it, so I would recommend starting there.

—meringue from semen

I know meringue with egg whites is formed by whipping air into the protein molecules of the egg whites. As you whip the whites the protein molecules lock together trapping the air inside forming the meringue. Adding sugar will add strength to these bonds preventing it from falling flat. Now fats have the opposite effect on these bonds allowing the air to escape. Which is why breaking a yolk into the egg whites makes it near impossible to get a nice fluffy meringue. I do know the spermatozoa contains fat it uses for energy needed for the journey to the egg. So if you are having problems with making meringue from semen you might try finding someone with a very low sperm count. What…you’re inviting me to dinner? Thanks but I couldn’t…pie for dessert you say. Sounds delicious but really no thanks. I just started my diet 2 minutes ago. I’m so sorry.

—why is my bladder in sync with bathroom cleaning schedule

Alright fine. This wasn’t on my search engine report. But I sure would like to know why every day the urge calls and I walk over to a bathroom closed for cleaning.

© copyright 2011-2012

What does that mean?

The interesting thing about being the male partner going through fertility testing, is you are not the patient. The female is the patient. Well that is the reason the clinic gives for calling my wife with the test results of MY semen analysis instead of me. Basically I’m just an ejaculation machine, well don’t I feel special. The problem is that leaves me asking second hand questions that I know my wife doesn’t know the answer too, but I end up asking anyway because I’m not thinking in those terms.

Wife: “The doctor called and said your sperm count was very low. They want you to call and schedule another test.”

Me: “Very low…What does that mean?”

Wife: “I don’t know baby, they just said it was very low.”

Now after taking the test I did some research on what they are looking for in the sample I provided so I would not be in the dark when the results came back. I know they are expecting a sperm count of 20 million or more per milliliter. They check the motility (are they moving forward and at an active pace) expecting 50% or above. They check the morphology by checking 200 sperm and noting any defects they might have. Then they also check pH levels and white blood counts. Basically the test is more than just quantity, but also quality and concentration levels. Just saying a sperm count is low could mean any number of things. Then they had to qualify it with the word “very”. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

I called the clinic to rekindle my affair with the folding chair in the bathroom, and to get some answers.

Nurse: “The good news is your pH level and white blood counts are normal. The motility is normal at 50%. The bad news is they only found 4.”

Me: “4 what? 4 million, 4 thousand, 4…”

Nurse: “No, just 4 period. Only 2 that were actively moving”

Me: “…”

Me: “…”

Me: “…”

Nurse: “Sir?”

Me: “Is this because I masturbated too much as a teenager. I worked very hard proving it does not make you go blind.”

Nurse: “No sir, we just need you to come in for another test in a couple weeks. One test doesn’t not prove anything.”

So I’m off to see if I can duplicate my amazing feat of firing it into a cup once again.

© copyright 2011-2012