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Male Factor Infertility

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Hello All,

I decided to post this topic in hopes of some feedback directly related to this issue because I feel it is important and worth a dialogue. Generally speaking most people think of infertility as a woman's issue but as we know male factor infertility is far more prevalent that people know. I want to know if any of you are willing to discuss this issue as a spouse of infertility. We come to Abrazo with the resolution of infertility. But my question is are we ever really resolved?  We as a human race carry personal burdens every day of our lives. Whether they are as a trivial as a common cold, or a serious issue. People who love and care for us want to know how we are doing. The few, carry that further and really want to know how we are doing. I know that being an "againer" opens up the wounds of infertility. My husband and I always talked about it the first time around but now the second time it is hardly mentioned. I believe that the spouse who is infertile ( even though I regard the infertiliy as a couple issue) is reminded of their inability to produce and or conceive. So my question is to all who have "been there" is what can a spouse really do to reassure their partner and how was the second adoption different, specifically with the infertility issue?



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While we're not againers, we do/did have a diagnosis of male factor infertility so I wanted to respond with how we've "dealt" with it.  I guess I'm very fortunate because infertility really was never an issue for us emotionally, etc other than it was the one thing that was preventing us from achieving what we wanted sooooo much - to be parents.  Other than that, we didn't suffer too much from it, other than the awful effects of going through IVF (in-vitro) (we skipped everything else and were advised that IVF was our only hope of conceiving).  But that's a different dialogue and I think the topic you're really getting at here is more related to how as a couple we supported one another through the diagnosis, etc when it's male factor.

I also feel very fortunate in that my spouse never felt what I think many other men do who are diagnosed with male factor.  To him, it was just a diagnosis and he didn't feel that it was "his fault" that we couldn't conceive or responsible for our infertility issue.  Thank heavens for that because I'm already the type of person who has major guilt complexes and if I would have felt that he felt responsible or inadequate or whatever else he could have felt, I would have felt so much need to try to compensate for whatever emotions he would have been dealing with which likely would have put more focus on the male factor infertility issue than we needed there to be (for us, the issue we discussed a lot was that we wanted to be parents, we didn't focus much on the reasons why we weren't - we did talk about it...a little but it just wasn't something we as a couple felt we needed to discuss much because there wasn't anything we could do about it - however, we could resolve our non-parent status and that's what we chose to focus on).  

The other thing I think that may have had an impact on him not feeling so much as though he was preventing us from conceiving may have had to do with something I read that we discussed a few times.  It said something like, lots of couples have male factor infertility but never know it - it may take them a few months, etc to conceive and it's due to male factor infertility.  The reason they never know it is because the female is very fertile which sort of masks an issue that would otherwise be very obvious to another couple with male factor where the female is sorta sub-fertile.  So, I guess I always felt that there was something going on with me too but diagnosing female factor infertility can be darn near impossible unless it's one of the obvious things (like endometreosis, poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, blocked fallopian tubes, etc).  There can be so many little things about a female that can reduce their fertility that modern technology just can't diagnose/treat yet - in my opinion, it's those things that people who get that awful diagnosis of "unexplained infertility" must have.  However, it goes both ways - in those cases, when the male is very fertile and the female is sub-fertile (I'm sure there's a better term so sorry if this sounds offensive to anyone...just trying to get this typed and not spending much time choosing politically correct terms), it may take longer than usual but they do eventually end up conceiving and the couple never even knew they had infertility issues.

Does that make sense?  I guess what I'm trying to say is Lance & I totally felt it was both of us who were suffering from infertility issues - it just so happens his was "diagnosable" and mine wasn't.  But by all accounts - I should have become pregnant, especially with our last IVF attempt - one of the embryos was absolutely perfect - the other 2 were graded very good so between the three of them, we for sure should have become pregnant - but we didn't so I have to think that maybe something is up with my lining or whatever that keeps those little guys/gals from sticking around.

Finally, the other thing that must have really helped us as a couple deal with it is that Lance & I are both very, very strong believers in the "there's a reason for everything", "what's meant to be will be", etc thinking.  We knew that we wanted to be parents but for whatever reason (which we now know), it just didn't work for us the way it does for other people.  We just believed that if it was meant to be, it would happen.  I mean, we believe that you can move in a direction toward what you want (i.e. making the call to the adoption agency rather than waiting endless years trying to get pregnant) but in the end, you have no control over what will happen in your life - there's a bigger plan and you just have to go with it and have faith that it's what's meant to be, try not to question why.

Just a few nights ago, Lance & I were watching Kayleigh sleep and I said, "can you believe how hard we tried to make one of these?  all those shots, all those doctor appointments, all that money? can you believe this is what we were trying to do (she just looked so real and alive and angelic) - can you believe she is what we were trying to create by retrieving my eggs and taking your sperm and letting it grow in a petri dish then returning it to me?  It seemed so impossible at the time and look, here is our baby"  Then Lance said, "I know - it's amazing - I'm so glad that none of that stuff worked, I can't imagine having any baby other than her - I'm so glad we have her".  That may not sound pc (guess you just had to be there) but I think Lance & I just know that whatever it was that prevented us from conceiving wasn't a road-block or whatever, it's what had to happen in order for us to find our way to Kayleigh - if we hadn't had the male factor issue, perhaps we would have conceived and then, we wouldn't have her - I'd never know her and we both feel so blessed to know her and to be her parents.  We both agree that there's no way we together could have created such a precious, perfect human being.

Sorry for the long post - also sorry if some of it doesn't make a lot of sense - maybe my message still gets through though.

Excellent topic Katharine - I hope others respond because you're right - each of us on this forum dealt with some form of infertility and each of us I'm sure had our own ways of dealing with it so what a wonderful idea to share our experiences and hopefully it will bring to some a different perspective on it and help in some way.


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Good questions Katharine.  Do you ever have complete resolve when it comes to infertility?  I think it will always be a part of you, but it doesn't have to be who you are.  Like Lisa we truly believe that things happen for a reason and that certain things are just meant to be or not to be.  

In our case we were not faced with male infertility, but with endometriosis and then unexplained infertility.  I did feel guilty for not being able to produce a biological child, but I knew in my heart that we could love any child God brought into our lives.  And my husband was so supportive.  He never made me feel like it was "my" problem...it was just a problem that we would find a solution for.  I think communication was what helped us through it.  He was not afraid to talk about it and discuss what the doctor's were suggesting.  He withstood my moodiness from the infertility drugs and my crying spells and was just there to support me any way he could.  We made decisions together and I never felt like I was alone in the situation.  He bared the burden with me.  So as a couple we decided not to dwell on what was not meant to be. We pursued adoption after receiving a diagnosis from doctor's who were still saying with this procedure or that one there might be a chance....  We just felt like infertility was simply an obstacle to becoming parents and that adoption was our best solution.  We could have gone on with more treatments and IVF like our doctors suggested, but we just felt in our hearts that our baby was somewhere out there waiting for us.  When our son was born we knew our prayers had been answered and it seemed that all the pain we had endured during our infertility diagnosis and treatments were washed away.  Jacob was the reason we could not conceive a biological child.  If we had we would not have this precious son that we could not imagine living our lives without.

When we decided to adopt again last year and called Abrazo for the application it was strange to complete for the second time.  I remember the first time it took us forever.  We deliberated over every question about infertility and dealing with the issues related.  And this time my husband and I just zipped right through, because we already knew first hand that adoption works.  The infertility issues did not seem like issues anymore.  We want to be parents, to have children to love and nurture and share our lives with.  It's much easier to talk about now, like at orientation I didn't feel overwhelmed with emotions the way I did the first time.  And I think we've got more hope and we're more confident in that we know we're taking the right path to parenthood.  It's not if, but when!  

Our journey this time has been longer and much more emotional than the first time.  We've had disappointments along the way and there have been times when the wounds of infertility have been exposed.  The disappointments of not being chosen by a birth family that you thought you connected with or the decision of a birthparent to parent instead of placing brings those feelings back.  The overwhelming desire to "have" a baby and then the disappointment of the setback.  It reminds me of the way we felt when a medical procedure was not successful or when it was, but resulted in miscarriage.  The pain is still there but yet it is different.  I think it's because we have faith that we will be parents again.  Whereas during the infertility process I quite often felt hopeless, like it may never happen.  While we are still faced with infertility in that we can't conceive a biological child, we know that adoption is a truly beautiful way to join families together.  God does have a plan for us.

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We also suffer with male factor infertility.  (Katharine we were actually in the orientation group with you guys the first time around.  I have enjoyed getting updated with you through the forum)  We are also againers and like Katharine we have not really discussed the infertility issues this go round like we did before.  I truly feel in my heart that we have resolved that part of our lives.  Shortly after meeting our son we both looked at one another and said that we were thankful for infertility and let me say we have come a long way.  I am sure that every adoptive parent feels that same way to some extent.  We both just feel very strongly that this is God's plan for our lives.  He never intended for us to have biological children.  It is not the infertile partner's fault, it is just God's plan.  

I don't really know what to say about reassuring your partner.  I think for us personally, it helps that I never forced or persuaded him to have exploritory surgery, etc.  I totally left it up to him.  I have never brought that back up to him either.  I also restated our vows to him and told him that no where in there does it say he has to get me pregnant.  It says he has to love me and he does that perfectly.  I think we really dealt with it and I really reassured him when we first started our adoption journey.  I honestly feel that he does not feel less because of our situation.

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  • 1 month later...

Ok...I have a question.  My second set of AP's the AF wasn't infertile but he had a genetic disorder that would cause the AM to miscarry whenever she got pregnant.  Has anyone ever heard of this?  Wouldn't this cause a Stress on both individuals?  I know when I struggled with endometriosis in my first marriage my husband had to be a huge support to me when I miscarried.  So how does it work, when it's both parties suffering?


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  • 2 years later...

Here's a newsflash! Researchers and scientists are now saying that for the first time, male factor infertility cases are now outnumbering infertility diagnoses due to female factors!!! Extra, extra: read all about it, in its entirety: Male Infertility Rates On the Rise.

We're also posting part of the article here, in case the link should become obsolete in time:

Men Overtake Women As Cause Of Infertility

By Maxine Frith for "The Independent"

23 June 2005

Men are overtaking women as the root of infertility in relationships, according to a recent study which shows that, for the first time, male causes are more common than female causes in diagnoses of fertility problems.

Factors such as declining sperm counts, obesity and smoking were largely to blame for the rise, which saw male causes creep from 50 to 51 per cent.

Data from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) shows that in 81 per cent of couples fertility problems can be narrowed down to whether the cause lies with the man or the woman, although a definite diagnosis may still not be made. The findings were presented at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Copenhagen yesterday.

Clare Brown, the chief executive of the Infertility Network, said: "When I talk to people about infertility, they tend to automatically assume that it is a woman's problem and are genuinely surprised to find out that it's pretty much 50-50. I think it is down to the fact that men still don't like to talk about the fact that they may have a problem - they see it as an attack on their virility.

"Couples don't like to talk about their fertility problems in general, but it happens even more with men, and that contributes to the myth that it is a woman's problem, when in fact it could be either one or both of them."

As well as lifestyle factors, experts said that men were becoming fathers at an older age as their partners delayed motherhood. Other studies presented at the conference this week have shown how the sperm of older men is at increased risk of DNA damage, making it less likely that fertilisation will occur.

Experts also pointed to the huge rise in a type of fertility treatment that is mainly used in couples in which the problem lies with the man. Dr Anders Nyboe-Andersen, the coordinator of the committee, said: "There are probably many reasons why (male treatment) has become more prevalent. One of them could be that the relative causes of infertility are shifting. We see less and less infertility caused by severe tubal problems in women, but male subfertility seems to be increasing.

"Perhaps the data on declining sperm quality are true. Maybe the environmental factors are playing an increasing role as the planet becomes more polluted and factors that disrupt the endocrine system are in the food chain."

Question: are there gender differences in the way men and women cope with infertility, in your opinion, and if so, what contrasts have you observed?

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  • 11 months later...

Larry King... Donald Trump... Luciano Pavarotti... YOU GOT LUCKY DUDE(s)!!!

Researchers are now reporting that men, too, have a biological clock, and that sperm genetic quality deteriorates as men age; it also becomes harder for them to achieve conception.

"Starting in their 20s, men face steadily increasing chances of infertility, fathering an unsuccessful pregnancy, and passing on to their children a genetic mutation that causes dwarfism, according to the study," reads a recent National Geographic article. "The finding comes as more and more men are delaying fatherhood."

To read the entire article, see: Tick, Tock; Tick Tock!...What You're Hearing Is HIS clock!!!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm glad this topic has resurfaced. I must have missed it when we joined the Abrazo family almost 2 years ago. I share some experiences and feelings with each of you. I, too, think of us as a couple being infertile, not just the spouse with the infertility diagnosis.

Male factor infertility is a phrase I'm reading just today because of these posts. "Aspermia" was the only word I had for my husband's diagnosis--only because I took a peek at his records as the doctor was making notes! Looking back, I think the doctor didn't know how to help us cope. He told us of the infertility diagnosis over the phone and simply said there was nothing we could do about it. He said nothing else and offered no other services.

In dealing with the diagnosis, I think we did well in spite of the little knowledge we had about it. I don't know if coping techniques of infertility vary because of gender, or simply by the individual and/or couple. Or if they vary much as all. Regardless, we have accepted it, though will never forget it.

I completely agree that things happen for a reason, this one being our baby boy!

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  • 6 months later...

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