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Archive for the ‘male factor’ tag

Infertility and the Man’s Part

By Tracey Minella and David Kreiner MD

October 18th, 2011 at 6:10 pm

IVF is hard on us women. After all, we’re the ones whose hormones have gone wild, whose butts have swollen bulls-eyes, whose wombs are empty.

But our guys have it hard, too. If it’s male factor, they have misplaced guilt.  They have their own pain, but probably hide it so as not to further burden their partner. And in any case they likely have depression and frustration over not being able to fix the situation for their suffering partner. Their wives are in pain. Don’t most guys want to be their wife’s hero? The knight who rides in to save the day?

IVF is a team effort which extends beyond the man’s obvious contribution in the collection room.

Dr. David Kreiner of East Coast Fertility offers great suggestions on ways men can find their place in IVF and support their wives and partners in the process:

A husband’s experience when going through an IVF cycle varies depending in large part on how involved he gets. When a husband participates actively with the IVF process it helps to relieve much of the stress on the wife and on the relationship. The more involved he is, the more invested he will feel in the entire experience, and the more control he’ll feel over the outcome.

Many husbands pride themselves in their new found skills of mixing medications and administering injections for their wives. It helps many men who are used to caring for their wives to be in control of administering the medication for them. Successful IVF then becomes something he played a very active role in, and he’ll relate better to the experience, his wife and the resulting baby.

Despite a lack of prior experience, most people can learn to prepare and administer the medication. Whether it is the feeling of “playing doctor” or the knowledge that he is contributing significantly in the process and supporting his wife, most men relate that giving their wives the injections was a positive experience for them and for their relationship.

Along the same line of thinking, accompanying your wife at the time of embryo transfer can be most rewarding. This can be a highly emotional procedure. Your embryo/s is being placed in the womb and at least in that moment many women feel as if they are pregnant. Life may be starting here and it is wonderful to share this moment with your wife. Perhaps you may keep the Petri dish as a keepsake as the “baby’s first crib”. It is an experience a husband and wife are not likely to forget as their first time together as a family. I strongly recommend that men don those scrubs, hats and booties and join their wives and partners as the physician transfers the embryos from the dish into her womb. Nine months later, do the same at delivery for memories that last a lifetime.

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Guys: Would you (or have you) been present during the transfer? What was it like?

Girls: Would you want (or did you have) your husband present during the transfer? What was it like?

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7 Tips to Survive Father’s Day When You’re Infertile

By Tracey Minella

June 17th, 2011 at 12:14 am

We don’t always remember that wanna-be dads are hurting on Father’s Day the way we acknowledge the pain of wanna-be moms. So here’s seven suggestions to help the guys this weekend:

1.  Honor Your Father: If you are lucky enough to still have your father and are close enough geographically, be sure to visit him on Sunday. Sometimes you can get distracted by your own pain and your quest for fatherhood and take your dad being there for granted. Don’t do that. You never know if he will be here next year. And if visiting isn’t possible, be sure to call. Share a favorite memory from childhood. You’ll be glad you did.

2.  Get Proactive:  What can you do today that will help your fertility? Those tight briefs aren’t helping. Switch to boxers. Been meaning to quit smoking, stop drinking, or lose weight? Well, there’s no time like now. How about a long walk for exercise and clearing your mind? Any step you take to live healthier will make you feel better…even on Father’s Day.

3. Consider Charity:  Sometimes helping others less fortunate than we are makes us feel better about our plight and puts things in perspective. Trying to avoid the family barbeque with your 17 nieces and nephews and your 4 pregnant sisters? Why not help at a soup kitchen on Sunday? Or bring some school supplies or toys to a children’s shelter? Good karma never hurts.

4.  Pull the Plug on Procrastination:  What have you put off doing that might be delaying your fertility plan? Is there lab work or other testing you haven’t done? Have you put off the dentist or a medical check-up? Do you need to make vacation time arrangements at work so you can do IVF? And how many times have you tried to tackle the health insurance issues only to put the paperwork down again?

5. Take Care of You:  No one’s feelings are more important than yours and your partner’s. Don’t put yourself in a vulnerable position on Sunday (or any day). Avoid people you know will likely upset you, whether intentionally or unintentionally. You must protect yourself.

6.  Positive Imagery:  Take some time alone to remind yourself of your good qualities and the reasons you are going to make a great father someday. Envision it but don’t dwell to the point of sadness. Write down 3 reasons why you will be superdad someday. Trust that it will be.


7. Enter Our Free Micro-IVF Contest:  If you blew off suggestion #5 and somehow found yourself in the company of a moron who said the most shocking and insensitive thing to you (or your partner) about being infertile, turn those lemons into lemonade! Enter the comment in our June contest and you could win one of 5 great prize packages, plus each of the 5 winners becomes eligible to win the Grand Prize of a free Micro-IVF cycle valued at $3,900.00!! Just go to the June 6th blog post right here on the fertility daily or on ECF’s facebook page from June 6th . It’s so quick and easy!

Last year’s contest winner and her husband are celebrating their first Father’s Day on Sunday. Will YOU celebrate yours next year? Why not increase your chances? (You don’t have to use your real name if you prefer anonymity.)

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I’m Less of a Man Because I Can’t Get My Wife Pregnant

By Tracey Minella

April 29th, 2011 at 12:00 am

I  can’t resist a challenge, so when RESOLVE asked infertility bloggers to help bust some popular myths during National Infertility Awareness Week in April, I stepped up. And since this issue of the ECF News is focused on the guys because its Father’s Day this month, I’ve decided to share a less edgy version of that post.

I’m busting that myth about a guy’s manliness being based on his ability to get his wife pregnant. Harsh language ahead, but you guys can take it, right?

First of all, a guy can have eleventy two million sperm, all shaped like Hercules, but if his troops encounter cervical mucus from hell, tubes tighter than his formerly favorite briefs, or a hostile womb…none of which would be his “fault”…she’s not getting pregnant. 

But men don’t see things that way. Men think they’re losers if they “shoot blanks”. Where the heck does this thinking come from? The locker room? Cowboy movies? When are you going to realize that size doesn’t matter, guys…at least when it comes to sperm count?

There’s only one type of guy we infertiles talk about… our soul mate. Wanna know why? Because if you’re not our soul mate, you’re the loser ex who bailed at the first signs of infertility…or even before that over something even less important. So what if your sperm can’t get us pregnant.

The measure of a man’s worth is not determined by the size of his sperm count or by whether he’s hung like a bear or a raisin. It’s much deeper than that. Stop feeling like you are less of a man.

You are more of a man because you’re still here beside me telling me we’re gonna get through this together, and because you’re not afraid to show me your pain and disappointment at the setbacks.

You are more of a man because you scraped me off the floor after that HSG and you learned to do the injections despite every fiber of your being wanting to run and hide.

You’re more of a man because you held my hand at all the surgeries, retrievals, transfers, and miscarriages and always made sure I had plenty of hot hospital blankets.

You’re more of a man because you can handle yourself and a plastic cup.

You’re more of a man because you show me every day that you’ll do whatever it takes to make us a family… even if it means accepting another man’s cup.  Even if it means releasing your own dream of someday seeing yourself in your son’s eyes.

There’s an abundance of sperm in the world. It only costs a couple hundred bucks per vial. But there’s only one you. And you’re priceless.

Sperm may make you a father, but it takes what you’ve got to be a daddy. And don’t you forget it.

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Ladies: If you could tell your partner one thing to reassure him, what would it be?

Guys: How does your wife make you feel about male factor issues?


Father Time is an IVF Terrorist

By Tracey Minella

April 12th, 2011 at 12:57 am

Ever feel like Father Time has joined Mother Nature in mocking you?

Mother Nature’s arsenal of weapons of mass destruction is legend in the Fight for Fertility: fibroids, endometriosis, hydrosalpinx, recurrent miscarriage, male factor, and premature ovarian failure, just to name a few. And many of us are so focused on disarming Mother Nature that we fail to notice the emotional damage being done by her insidious cohort in the spider hole…Father Time.

Allow me to illustrate:

What do you do when the third IUI fails again? Or the first IVF cycle doesn’t work? Do you rush right into the next cycle of treatment? Or do you take a break?

How much of your decision to forge ahead, or move quickly on to the next most aggressive treatment option, has to do with TIME vs. other factors, like money? Are you ruled by the deafening sound of your biological clock ticking? Do you push forward even though you feel overwhelmed and could benefit from taking a break from treatment? (Would you bite off the head of anyone who suggested you do just that?)

And for those who do choose to take time off between treatment cycles, maybe even as long as six months (gasp!), are you comfortable in that decision? Or are you stressing over the TIME that is going by, as the next birthday is coming up faster?

Do you constantly and effortlessly calculate potential due dates in your head? And when certain months pass without a pregnancy, do you automatically think: Since I’m not pregnant this month, I won’t be a mom before this coming Christmas, or Mother’s Day, or New Year’s, or your birthday, or your anniversary.

Although you have the RE to battle the havoc Mother Nature wreaks on your reproductive system, only you can find the strength to outlast Father Time. Set the pace of your journey based on what you need today in order to get through this day. Take the time you need, or push forward if you need. But make an active choice either way and be comfortable with that decision.

I could tell you to stop the stressing and calculating…but that would be asinine. Of course you will continue to stress as time continues to pass without a baby. You never thought you’d even be in these shoes… fighting this hard and long for something that is supposed to just happen naturally in the privacy of our bedrooms… much less still be in them as months or years pass by.

So I will leave you with the only positive spin I can put on this nightmare.

Unfortunately, I feel the need to quote both a cliché about time and a song by the Byrds (one that I never liked and that will make me sound like I’m old enough to be Mrs. Time): To every thing, turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn, turn, turn. And a time to every purpose under heaven.” The cliché is that time heals all wounds.

Your battle will end someday, and the odds are that it will end successfully, with a baby from one of possibly many available options. And you won’t be able to imagine how you lived before the moment someone handed you that perfect angel. It will be love at first sight. You’d never want a different baby.

And you will come to realize that the baby you ultimately get is the one you are meant to have and hold. Not one from an earlier cycle. This one.

And a time to every purpose under heaven.

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Male Infertility: Is It All in His Boner?

By Tracey Minella

March 15th, 2011 at 12:00 am

Whoa… I meant his “bones”!

But, hey, since I have your attention…here’s another surprise.

In a recent study, scientists studying the relationship between female sex hormones and bones in mice were shocked to instead discover that there’s actually a relationship between the male skeletal and reproductive systems.

Specifically, they studied a hormone, osteocalcin, which is released by the skeletal system and observed a correlation between the levels of osteocalcin and testosterone, the sex hormone controlling male fertility. Where there was low osteocalcin, testosterone levels were low and sperm counts dropped. But when the bones produced a higher level of osteocalcin, the testosterone levels were higher, as was the number of mature sperm. When breeding mice, those males with higher osteocalcin levels fathered larger litters than those with lower osteocalcin levels.

While similar osteocalcin findings haven’t been established in humans yet, there is reason to believe they eventually may be, based on other mice/human hormone studies. This is exciting stuff because… while we’ve long known that the sex hormones affect bone growth in men and women (think menopause and osteoporosis concerns)… this study shows the first reverse correlation between the skeletal and reproductive systems: Bone hormones affect fertility…at least in males. Surprisingly, the scientists did not find a correlation between skeletal hormones and female fertility.

Now, scientists can focus on developing a drug that will mimic osteocalcin’s effects. This would benefit not only some male factor infertility patients, but also some diabetics, since osteocalcin levels have also been connected to glucose metabolism in other recent studies by the same group.

Though as studies such as this show, our body’s systems are more dependent upon each other than we realize, and infertility’s roots may extend beyond the reproductive system itself. This underscores the importance of maintaining our overall good health, especially when trying to conceive.

It is promising to know that research continues to uncover surprising new leads, and ultimately solutions, for fertility obstacles.

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