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to think my GP is incorrect and just a bit sexist?

(46 Posts)
playg Fri 02-May-14 13:21:55

My man and I have been trying for our first baby for about 2 years now. I did get pregnant once, but I miscarried at about 7 weeks back in October.

I made an appointment with my local (male) GP to discuss our fertility problems, and my man came with me. We explained the problem (actually my partner did most of the explaining because I had to tell the GP about the miscarriage, which wasn't on his records because we were living abroad at the time, and talking about it always turns me into a blubbing mess). Anyways the GP organised two blood tests for me, for the 2nd and 21st days of my cycle. I then asked if he would be organising any tests for my partner, and the GP said "Oh no, you got pregnant once, so we know that everything's fine with him!". Bless my partner, he tried his best, and said "it could've been my one good sperm", but the GP didn't pay attention.

Am I being unreasonable to think that what the GP said is incorrect, and that getting pregnant once doesn't mean that it's unlikely the male-side doesn't have any problems?

From what I can tell by my uneducated googling, about a 1/3 of fertility problems are found to be issues on the female-side, about a 1/3 on the male-side, and a 1/3 remain unexplained. I don't care where the problems lie, I just want to find them if at all possible, and get up-duffed as soon as I can! I don't see why we'd delay testing my partner, when all it means for him is spunking in a cup, and he's perfectly happy to do so.

The GP only asked me questions, not my man. And he asked in particular about how long we'd been together, and whether we were married - for the record 8 years and no - but what relevance does that have?! So I'm thinking that he's just a bit old-fashioned and sexist.

Extra info, just in case: My cycles have always been pretty regular, and uneventful, always a day or two within 28 days long - although my periods have gradually gotten lighter and shorter the last year or so, going from 5 to 4 days. We're both 32. Neither of us have any particular health problems that we are aware of. Don't smoke, and don't drink a great deal. I've tried temping, peeing on sticks (OPK's and fertility monitor), and have gotten familiar with with my cervical mucus (fun, fun!). When we got pregnant I was exercising more than I usually would, so I've recently up'ed the exercising again in hope.

AreYouFeelingLucky Fri 02-May-14 13:29:07

You are correct that 1/3 of problems are female, another 1/3 male and the final 1/3 unexplained, but I believe that the chances of male fertility issues drops considerably after conception is achieved once.

In other words, if your partner got you pregnant before, he has a lower chance of having fertility issues. He could still have them, so testing at the same time would save you time at a later date if nothing is found, but the NHS is running on empty so they'd rather save the money, if they can.

Added to that the fact that your periods have changed within the last year, and I think the GP has started in the logical place. Women's fertility is much more complex!

I can completely understand your haste, but I can see the NHS' view, too. If you can afford to go private, they'd conduct the tests at the same time.

WooWooOwl Fri 02-May-14 13:31:29

I don't think it's sexist.

If the tests come back that there's no problem with you, then they can test your DP.

It might just be spunking in a cup for him, but it will cost the NHS time and money so I agree they shouldn't do it unless there is a need to.

If the tests you have done show that there is a problem with you, then they won't have wasted that time and money.

They have to start somewhere. If you want it all to be done quicker, then you have the option of going private.

curiousgeorgie Fri 02-May-14 13:37:34

It may sound sexist but these tests are what I understand to be the normal next step? After a few miscarriages they're what I was offered and I know a few friends who had them too.

playg Fri 02-May-14 13:45:08

Thank you AreYouFeelingLucky, that makes sense. I hadn't realised that if my partner had got me pregnant before it meant he had a lower chance of having fertility issues. Although surely if I got pregnant before it kind of means I have a lower chance too no? Is it just that statistically his chances lower far more than my chances?

WooWooOwl, well I hadn't thought of that. Perhaps it is just a sensible use of money. Especially if the spunking in a cup test is way more expensive than the two lots of blood tests I'm having.

TequilaMockingbirdy Fri 02-May-14 13:45:13

I thought this was just normal? Test you first then your DP.

YABU to say 'your man' though <shudders>

FatalCabbage Fri 02-May-14 13:49:05

I think men's fertility is less variable - eg they either produce motile sperm or they don't - whereas women's as we know is very variable. A woman might try for years including assistance for her first pregnancy, then catch immediately with her second despite not having had a period, breastfeeding, etc (my friend).

So although it might feel sexist I think it probably isn't.

Good luck.

Icelollycraving Fri 02-May-14 13:50:19

What tequila said.
Op,I do hope you have success ttc.

playg Fri 02-May-14 13:50:28

TequilaMockingbirdy, actually that's the thing, why is it just normal to do me then the man?

TequilaMockingbirdy Fri 02-May-14 13:52:38

You're the one who made the appointment, you're the one who miscarried and your periods have changed so it just makes sense to take your bloods first.

And there's no point doing it at the same time, because it's a waste of money.

playg Fri 02-May-14 13:53:56

Thanks fatal and icelolly.

Actually thanks everyone, think you're helping to fill me in, and it's a lot nicer to understand why rather than mistakenly think it's just sexism.

WhosLookingAfterCourtney Fri 02-May-14 13:55:50

It's not sexist, it's biology - men and women are different in this respect....

Hope it works out in the end for you OP.

Hebburnisaplaceonearth Fri 02-May-14 13:56:28

We had one child already, and weren't getting pregnant with second. It turns out my DH when tested had a sperm count of 9 million the first test, but some tests were as low as 1 million. We had ICSI to have our second. It was assumed at first that the problem must be me- scarring after first pregnancy or something like that. The GP laughed at my husband when he suggested getting a sperm test because we already had a child. It seems the one we had was a miracle though!

Salazar Fri 02-May-14 14:01:01

Agree with the others, it's not sexist, it is just more likely to be you with the problem in this case - biological fact.

Best of luck with everything OP. I can be a bit woo about these things admittedly, but I've got a good feeling about you.

TequilaMockingbirdy Fri 02-May-14 14:01:13

Good luck OP, hope it works out for you flowers

eurochick Fri 02-May-14 14:04:13

The GP is wrong. It only takes one sperm to make an embryo and he could still have a low sperm count/motility/morphology. Moreover, sperm DNA fragmentation can lead to higher miscarriage rates. Also, you could equally say that because you got pregnant you must be ovulating, so the blood tests are pointless (the day 21 test at least, as that is what progesterone levels are testing). By all means get the ball rolling with the blood tests, but he should be tested too.

playg Fri 02-May-14 14:07:13

Thank you whoslooking and tequila and salazar. I so hope you're write salazar!

hebburn I'm so glad you got your miracle smile

I'm starting to think that it might have been sensible for the GP to say something like "men's fertility tends to be less variable than women's fertility, and so given that you've got pregnant before, and that your periods have changed, I think it would make sense for us to start by running some tests on you", rather than his "Oh no, you got pregnant once, so we know that everything's fine with him!". Because honestly, if I hadn't asked mumsnet, I'd still be confused and fuming now.

Deux Fri 02-May-14 14:07:43

Our GP wasn't going to test DH at first as we too had had a pg and then miscarriage. I insisted and I'm glad i did as we went to straight to a private clinic on getting the results. We needed IVF/ICSI.

IMO, it would be prudent for your DH to have a semen analysis whilst you are waiting to do your bloods. New sperm is being manufactured the whole time so results can vary and it's not just about number of sperm but motility and morphology too. There may be millions there but if they are deformed and swimming backwards, it's not much good.

I'm not sure about the sexist thing but i do think there is a tendancy to assume that the female partner is the one with issues where in reality men are as likely to be the ones with the issues.

GPs really don't know much about male fertility, ime.

playg Fri 02-May-14 14:08:05

oops typo : write = right

Salazar Fri 02-May-14 14:09:44

You are completely right playg. Actually explain why something is happen is a big nhs failure in my experience! My only tactic at the doctors is to ask as many questions as possible! My poor grandma is in there weekly, and has no idea what is going on.

Deux Fri 02-May-14 14:13:10

I disagree with Salazar. There is nothing to suggest that the problem is more likely to be you.

That is not backed up by any statistics.

Another poster mentioned DNA frag. It can be tested for but your NHS lab might not be able to.

TequilaMockingbirdy Fri 02-May-14 14:13:52

You're right OP the way he said it was wrong, he should have explained how it makes sense to test you first, then your partner if yours is okay.

Salazar Fri 02-May-14 14:14:46

*salazar and all the other posters above her?

ribbityribbit Fri 02-May-14 14:15:26

The Atlantic published this article earlier in the year. Although it might not be relevant to you, it talks about how fertility treatment and research tends to focus on the woman and how male infertility can be a taboo subject for doctors (and is relatively understudied) which means it is tackled much later on.

So while I wouldn't call your doctor sexist - I am sure he is proceeding in the way he thinks is best for you - I do think there is some sexism in the way that infertility is talked about and researched and that male fertility issues aren't studied as much as they should be. Anecdotally, the friends of mine who have had fertility issues have had the same treatment - the woman is investigated first and actually it doesn't make much sense because a semen test is much easier, cheaper and less invasive than lots of the tests they do on women.

dietcokeandwine Fri 02-May-14 14:20:51

What eurochick said. You should both be tested. Yes it makes sense to start with you, and doing those bloods first is a standard thing to do, but to say he won't be testing your DP at all 'because he got you pregnant once so we know he's fine' is the most ridiculous thing to say. Ridiculous and not true - sperm issues could be a reason for your miscarriage, for example. (Equally, they may not - but until tests are done, you don't know if there's a problem or not).

GP should organise sperm tests for your DP once those initial bloods are done and certainly before referring you for any more invasive fertility testing.

(Another one here who had one child very easily but struggled to conceive a second time. We went through extensive testing and some sperm issues were identified with DH despite the fact he'd 'got me pregnant once'; we eventually had IVF and were lucky enough to be successful).

Good luck OP. Infertility is hard. I hope you get your miracle too flowers

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