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Advice on fertility issue appreciated!

(9 Posts)
DifferentTimes Thu 04-Dec-14 19:32:02


First of all some confessions. 1) I'm not a mum (although I am on the net, so I'm halfway there). 2) I'm a man. 3) I'm here for some advice from the mums, mums-to-be and future-mums on this forum.

I was recently telling a female friend of mine about some stuff that happened to me recently relating to fertility, because it raises some difficult questions about what I should do next. She happens to be a mum and uses this site, so she suggested that I ask for your opinion. I hope you can help me out!

So, back in April I found out that I have very low sperm count and low motility, and despite implementing lifestyle changes (loose fitting boxers, cutting down on alcohol and caffeine, taking Wellman fertility tablets daily) it didn't improve significantly. After six months of not getting drunk and having at most one coffee a day my sperm concentration was 0.50 M/ml and my motility 40%. The concentration hadn't changed over the six month period but the motility did double, but both are still well below the thresholds at which natural conception is likely.... although I'm sure me telling you that is like teaching old ladies to suck eggs. Apparently I would be a candidate for ICSI though.

This, along with a bunch of other factors sadly caused the breakdown of my relationship and so I'm in the unexpected predicament of being single at the ripe old age of 37, practically infertile and still wanting to find a partner to have children with at some point.

So, back to the dating scene for me... but things are different now because I know about my fertility issues. If I date someone around my own age that also wants children, we're going to have to move relatively quickly due to biological constraints, so the question is, how soon do I tell them about my issues? While my fertility issues won't stop us from having children, it will make it much harder, and I know that treatments like ICSI require the women to undergo daily injections. This feels like a big ask, especially when there are lots of single and willing men out there that would be able to conceive the natural way.

It's clearly not a first date conversation, and probably not even a fifth date conversation, but it's also not a twelve month conversation either because my future lady would be one year closer to the menopause by then. If I tell them too early I risk them buggering off before they get to know me properly, but if I tell them too late they may feel like I've been withholding important information from them.

Aaarrrggghhhh! I never expected to have to deal with things like this, so I'd love to get your views. If it was you I was dating, at what point would you have wanted to know? I am about to start a course of counselling to me get my head round things, but you can't beat a woman's opinion.

All comments and opinions gratefully received.

Thanks in advance!


MadeInChorley Thu 04-Dec-14 19:53:59

I have no advice on the dating scene exactly, but some parallels. My Dh found out that his sperm count was similar to you. Long story short, we never conceived naturally (we were never going to) and had four cycles of ICSI plus one frozen embryo transfer and we have two beautiful boys. It was a major uphill struggle for us to have a family and it is immensely physically and emotionally draining to do IVF as a woman, says soul to your relationship and in my case, with one miscarriage and an ectopic along the way, very painful and dangerous.

The struggle is all but forgotten now. Its a bit like childbirth - you know it was awful and painful, but you can't quite remember how bad it was because you have your babies.

You can only be honest. When DH and I got together he owned up to an ex wife. What else can you do? You'd have to tell them and straight and honestly when things look to get serious. Not every woman wants children or indeed more children if they already have DCs.

I'll admit you post made me wonder what I'd do if I had known in advance of DHs fertility issues instead of us both discovering it 4 years into our relationship. Honestly? It may have put me off. I knew I wanted children and I was focused on that, so when it became apparent that DH had male factor fertility issues I rolled up my sleeves and got on with ICSI with him. Eyes on the prize. I love him very much, but we had been together years and we were solid through everything. Good luck!

MadeInChorley Thu 04-Dec-14 20:02:25

Ps my DH implemented all the usual lifestyle changes to improve his count and didn't drink for six months. It made very little difference to his counts, although I know it can make a big difference to some men - and of course, it can only be good for you to eat sensibly and look after yourself so why not.

You sound like a lovely bloke (look at the relationship threads on here if you want to read countless examples of how many men behave completely dishonestly towards their partners). You'll just have to bring it up when things are looking to get more serious, whenever you feel that is.

Unhappily, it is not a terribly unusual problem. Lots of young men have had cancer and end up with compromised fertility. Good luck whatever happens and MN is a very good source of support through infertility issues. The Conception threads through 2009 and 2010 kept me sane. The support is amazing.

Solaia Thu 04-Dec-14 21:00:45

I'm similar to Made In Chorley in that I have been with DH for a long time and we are just getting on with the ICSI, for better for worse... Would it have made a difference to me if I'd known when we got together? No, but I was madly in love with him and was 19 and having kids seemed like a distant concept for some far off time.

If I was meeting a partner now (in my 30's) I would be far more businesslike about it and his fertility would be of interest/importance to me at a much earlier stage. That is probably shaped by my own experience of infertility though - I have an unhealthy interest in follicles and sperm counts... I should clarify though, I wouldn't be interested in his fertility in a "should I leave this man and find a more fertile one" way. I'd be interested so that planning our future was realistic and the timescales more defined.

I would have thought when you meet the right girl you'll know if you have a future together, and if you can see that for yourselves, you should tell her then.

In a way you are in a fortunate position (bear with me!) as you have been through the years of uncertainty and angst while you figure out the male factor infertility. Now you know, and knowledge is power. If I had known from the start we had male factor infertility it would have saved years of heartache as we figured it out. You've done that awful bit now.

Good luck! thanks

custardcreamdream Fri 05-Dec-14 14:06:43

I think that the fact you even wrote this message speaks highly of your character, and I'm sure you will find a lovely lady to share your life with soon smile

I don't think there's a 'right' answer to your question, but for what it's worth...I think you should tell her when it starts to feel serious to you. Obviously, there's no magic indicator to tell you when a relationship has turned serious. And there's a risk that you'll leave it, and then it will get past the point you think you should have told her, and become awkward. So, perhaps you could do a little bit of thinking in advance about what a 'serious' relationship feels like to you, based on your past experience. Is it when something good happens, and you think, "I must tell XXX"? Is it when she's the first thing you think of when you get up in the morning? Is it when you want her to meet your mates/sister/Mum?

Telling someone in the first few weeks (or even months) seems unnecessary and emotionally tiring for you. And by leaving it at least a little while, any potential partner will know your plus points as well as this potential minus point, which will give them something to balance up.

Anyway, mu humble opinion! Good luck!! smile

naty1 Fri 05-Dec-14 20:45:26

Can i ask what your bmi is?
Dp has similar count and bmi of 30 but wasnt able to lose any.
And i presume no smoking?

Its worth looking on the hfea page at the success rates at different womens ages. Its not so much menopause but declining fertility from 35.
So more goes necessary by increased age.
Of course if she had nothing wrong that should help.
It may be worth aiming for someone around 30, especially if you would like 2 kids.
Have you frozen some samples?
I think for nhs treatment some pcts include number of years together as a criteria. And some have waiting lists apparently (ours only allowed 1 free round). So yiu can ensure you can afford the treatment.

Its not so much the treatment thats the issue, its the emotions, the worry through it youll never have kids. And for us really low fertilisation rates 2/7, 3/9, 4/12 so then worrying it wont work. We do now have a DC and pg again. But this has taken over 5 yrs (incl ttc)

DRSLondon Sun 07-Dec-14 17:22:15

Hi, I'm sorry you are agonizing over this. I can honestly say that it won't affect a woman's desire to be with you. It is not something I would bring up initially when you meet someone but once you start to see a future with someone. If she is a good person she will realise that there are more important things in a partner and that while having a baby will be harder it is still going to happen, even if it isn't naturally. I have undergone IVF and while it is not ideal, the worst part was figuring out why we weren't getting pregnant. The IVF itself was completely bearable and if you want a baby enough it is 100% worth it. You sound like a lovely person and I am sure you will find someone who will not find your sperm count an issue.
Good luck x

bluemoonday Sun 07-Dec-14 18:03:16

Ditto DRSLondon!

DifferentTimes Sun 07-Dec-14 20:01:12

Thank for all so much for your advice. smile

MadeInChorley: Glad you managed to have your family one way or another, and good to know that IVF is worth the stress. Thanks for your kind words; it's a pity the ex doesn't think I'm a lovely bloke anymore but I'm sure girls out there will. I've just got to find 'em. ;)

Solaia: Good luck with your treatment. I agree, knowledge is power in this case, and when I find a/the one at least we can bypass fruitless trying and get on with conception.

custardcreamdream: Sound advice; thank you.

naty1: According to this site:

...I'm 23.9, so in the healthy range.

...and yep, non-smoker. Glad you got there in the end too, but yes, it sounds emotionally challenging. Finding a lass in her early 30s would be great! smile

DRSLondon/bluemoonday: That's good to know too. Thanks very much both. smile

So, I guess the path ahead is carry on as though nothing has happened when it comes to dating, find someone awesome and tell her a few months in when things start to get serious. In the meantime, I might consider getting some more tests done to see if they can work out what's going on.

Thanks again everyone. Good luck with your respective families and treatments.

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