Low sperm count and too young for IVF, what are our options?

(39 Posts)
AndInShortIWasAfraid Wed 06-Jul-16 12:36:34

Apologies, I’m sure this has been asked before but my GP is not very helpful and the practice is so busy it takes six weeks before I can get another appointment. And I have no friends!

I’m 24 and the local primary care trust will only provide IVF treatment to women over 30. DH has a low sperm count (8 million) and 0% morphology, 30% motility. I’ve had a transvaginal scan and all looked OK. Sadly, we can’t afford the £5000 for IVF privately. Do we have any other options?

Artandco Wed 06-Jul-16 12:46:35

I would just wait tbh. 24 is young enough you have time to wait. You can spend 5 years doing a mixture of trying for baby even with low chance, saving up so you have money to spend on private ivf later, and both talking to doctor ( 6 weeks wait is not long). Then at 30 you can have Ivf if still needed on NHS and pay privately after if needed as have saved up.

blue2014 Wed 06-Jul-16 12:54:09

Treatment in Europe (I went to Czech Republic)?

Proseed vitamins for him or an appointment with Dr Ramsey in London (about £500)

You could attempt private IUI (about £500)

To be honest his sperm isn't the worst I've heard and there would still be chance of a natural conception but I know that might not help right now

Peach1886 Wed 06-Jul-16 12:58:34

DH isn't going to like this - a cold shower to the relevant parts each day shock, and take Vitamin C and Zinc plus a good standard multi-vitamin. That combination worked really well for us, and we have a lively DS to prove it!

Fuzzywuzzywasabear Wed 06-Jul-16 13:01:29

Have a look at zita west's books on nutrition and start overhauling your diet.

Make sure oh is keeping his swimmers cool so no tight underware, avoid regular hot baths, saunas, steam rooms etc.

Well man vitamins, cut back on alcohol and if he smokes get him to quit.

You need to make changes for at least 3 months to see an effect on sperm/egg quality, you could then ask gp to repeat OHs tests to see if it's made a difference?

Unfortunately I don't think there is much else you can do for male factor infertility? Just keep trying and keep an eye on your trusts ivf policy as they do change

flowers for you

AndInShortIWasAfraid Wed 06-Jul-16 13:28:43

We've been trying since November 2014 and I've spent a small fortune on the Pregnacare couple's conception tablets. DH is a lover of baths and booze and has not had either in months and neither of us have ever smoked.

blue 2014 I contacted a London clinic and they charge £1,295 for stimulated IUI plus £800 each time they inseminate you during your cycle. I think we will start having to look at European clinics. May I ask you about your clinic, would you recommend it?

Peach1886 I hadn't heard about the cold shower and congratulations on your little boy.

Fuzzywuzzywasabear Thank you. Have just ordered the Zita West book. It does seem that there isn't much we can do as it's male factor. I think it's further compounded by the fact that I'm younger, doctors seem quite dismissive. I was told to wait 18 months before speaking to a GP. I waited, saw the GP in May and am having to see her again today because she suggested I have some blood tests but these haven't been done. Had we moved two miles up the road I would be eligible for IVF. I'm not feeling particularly hopeful about our chances naturally.

blue2014 Wed 06-Jul-16 13:45:46

Might be worth considering moving?

I went to reprofit in Brno, they were brilliant (we were mostly male factor although turns out I have low ovarian reserve. We had Icsi and I'm currently 18 weeks pregnant and I'm 37 years old)

I actually think you can do something with male factor. Diet changes and vitamins more than doubled DH's count. Might also be worth looking at that Chinese medicine "how to get pregnant" book for tips. I would go for something more specialist than pregnacare like proseed or fertiaid with added co10 and vitamin C. If you do a Google search you'll find a few research papers showing evidence of when vitamins work.

Blueroses99 Thu 07-Jul-16 23:49:25

I would agree that diet and vitamins can improve sperm quality. We went to see a nutritionist at the Marilyn Grenville clinic and were prescribed NHP his and hers conception multivitamins along with zinc and vitamin c, and DH had extra antioxidants (co-enzyme q10 and cellguard forte). Took them for 3 months before next ICSI cycle which was successful (currently 20wks pregnant!) Sperm results on day of fertilisation were vastly improved!! We also switched to organic foods - nutritionists recommend organic milk if nothing else as regular milk is high in hormones (oestrogen I think) which affects sperm. Also acupuncture can improve fertility in both women and men (the latter is less well known but there is definitely research supporting it).

NHS seem to be generally dismissive about nutrition and alternative therapies but the private sector are more accepting. I found out about it all at the Fertility Show in London last November - excellent event, so much useful information.

They also had representatives from clinics all over the world, it's certainly much cheaper. I've heard great things about the one in Norway. It's also possible to reduce fees by donating eggs if that's something that you would seriously consider.

I wouldn't wait for IVF until you are 30 if you are ready now. Infertility is all consuming and you could feel that your life is effectively on hold for several years. It took me 3 years to get pregnant and I found it's very draining and affected every aspect of my life. Also you're at your most fertile in your 20s so the odds are in your favour.

Good luck whatever you decide

AndInShortIWasAfraid Fri 08-Jul-16 08:04:58

blue2014 Congratulations! Unfortunately, we bought the house we are living in and I think it would be a struggle to get rid of it. The prices at Reprofit are very reasonable and as we are at the end of what the NHS is willing to do for us I think we'll definitely be looking abroad. Thank you!

Blueroses99 Congratulations! Thank you for your very kind response. No, I agree I couldn't wait until I was 30 and DH is 37 this year so he would be 42 before we could start NHS IVF and then we could have problems with me and it's just too long to wait. I hadn't heard about the Fertility Show. I'm currently stuck in a job I hate just in case I get pregnant and need the maternity pay, it's very difficult. We don't book holidays and scrimp and save 'just in case'.

blue2014 Fri 08-Jul-16 08:14:59

Thanks, check out the fertility friends website - there are loads of lovely ladies going to or having been to reprofit over there who will answer any question you have smile

It really also might be worth seeing Mr Ramsey, he will do a consultation and charges very little if he can't treat (I felt too old to wait for this option but you aren't) he's a very helpful man

Good luck

blue2014 Fri 08-Jul-16 08:15:53

Oh beware that meds aren't included in almost all advertised prices you see, mine cost me around £900

Smithofheavens Fri 08-Jul-16 08:23:03

The NHS are dismissive of nutritional and complementary therapies because it would be unjust to spend money from the public purse on totally unproven quackery. The private sector are more accepting because they can charge for it. Simples.

OP, save up, or get a loan and find a clinic with good results with ICSI and go for it. The longer YOU wait, the less chance you've got of it working.

allegretto Fri 08-Jul-16 08:26:44

Don't stop trying - 8 million is very low but not hopeless. We conceived naturally with a count lower than that.

FatimaLovesBread Fri 08-Jul-16 08:30:06

I was 25 when we got our diagnosis of male factor infertility and DH was 35. DH was slightly worse in that he has oligoazoospermia and a count of less than 1million. We were eligible on the NHS but the waiting list was long so we went for private while we waited.

As I was young and had no problems I went for egg sharing, where you donate half the eggs you get from the cycle. This then gives you a cheaper option as the recipients costs reduce your costs. And you get to help out another couple.

Our ICSI cycle was successful first time and I had 7 week scan just as the appointment for the NHS came through to start looking at treatment. We've just had our second DC from our frozen embryo from the original cycle

Borisisback Fri 08-Jul-16 08:48:32

Oooh I also had ivf at reprofit in the Czech rep and am now Preggo with number 1. You'll need ICSI with his sperm counts being like that - which they do as standard in czech but clinics charge an extra £1000 a time for in the UK. Our ivf all in was about £3500 including meds, scans, (£1000), ivf, flights and hotels. They have great sucess rates over there.

Get saving! It's a very expensive holiday but at least you get a holiday and possibly a baby out of it smile

From contacting the clinic to doing ivf it took me 4 months.

One thing you must do is get the nhs to run all the tests they can to check why you are not getting pregnant. Go back to your doctors and insist if you haven't already. Repeat SA for him (sperm counts can vary wildly), day 3 and day 21 bloods for you, dildo cam (ultrasound) so they can check your womb lining and for polyps and fibroids ttc, HSG to check your pipe work. You'll need all these results, it'll make private ivf easier and cheaper if you've already been tested for everything and can give them the results.

I'm also stuck in a job I hate for the same reasons as you. I wish you all the luck in the world. Be strong and don't give up.

Blueroses99 Fri 08-Jul-16 08:53:23

Smith this nothing to do with funding or quackery - there is a lot of published research out there which I had to do to figure out how I could help myself. If you see a GP or any fertility consultant about how to improve fertility, I don't understand why they don't advise on lifestyle factors such as diet and supplements (other than folic acid) which could be impeding fertility. This would improve the chances of successful treatment which would be a better return on investment for public money. The private clinic didn't recommend any of the nutritional or lifestyle changes I had made but accepted when I explained what I was doing. IVF is so expensive in the UK that I wanted to do everything I could to make it more successful. I saw a local acupuncturist and bought supplements from Amazon so it wasn't the clinic charging me more.

Sorry if TMI but DH said semen was creamier and thicker in the second (successful) cycle after all the changes that I mentioned, than the first unsuccessful cycle i.e better quality which was proven by the sperm analysis results. So I'm convinced the supplements worked for us. Remain sceptical if you want but wouldn't you try everything to boost your chances.

OP, I also stayed in a job I didn't enjoy 'just in case' for the maternity pay, didn't go on holidays etc so I know exactly what you mean. I thought it was better to be settled in a job than have added stress of learning the ropes in a new role. If it's any consolation, I totally feel like I made the right decision and am looking forward to maternity leave even more!

Smithofheavens Fri 08-Jul-16 09:10:54

I have never seen a single compelling robust piece of published research demonstrating the benefit of complementary therapy or nutritional therapy in relation to fertility. Not one.
I've seen plenty of sales blurb dressed up as research though.

Smithofheavens Fri 08-Jul-16 09:12:21

I don't understand why they don't advise on lifestyle factors such as diet and supplements (other than folic acid) which could be impeding fertility. This would improve the chances of successful treatment which would be a better return on investment for public money.

It's because it's nonsense. Sorry, but it is. The benefit it DOES have I it makes you feel like you're doing something.

blue2014 Fri 08-Jul-16 09:25:29

Have you checked the recent research on vitamins and sperm Smith? I'm not saying it will work for everyone but actually there is published research it does have an impact (I have a doctorate and a research background so I'm not easily convinced by poor research).

Honestly it worked for us, 2 poor sample - diet and vitamin change and his count more than doubled. Would it have got me pregnant naturally, who knows? But it certainly didn't hurt

Blueroses - hi! I lurk on preg after infertility thread but (at nearly 19 weeks) still not brave enough to post hmm

Blueroses99 Fri 08-Jul-16 09:28:21

We'll agree to disagree. My experience shows that sperm quality can be improved. Not sure how else it can be explained.

mouldycheesefan Fri 08-Jul-16 09:30:51

You are only 24 so have plenty of time to save up. People take on extra jobs, they remortgage, sell their car etc etc. I do sympathise we spent £20k on treatment. But fertility treatment is long haul, it took us five years of treatment to be successful. You have to look at it long term , How much can you save up over what time period? You could also egg share that cuts the cost of the treatment or go abroad. You have time on your side. 💐

INeedNewShoes Fri 08-Jul-16 09:36:56

I've been having IUI at a clinic in Denmark. Treatment is £450 per attempt for the insemination, non-medicated. You shouldn't need all the hormone meds that the UK private clinics push if your fertility is fine. I don't know what the cost will be for processing your partner's sperm (I'm using donor sperm) but it will be reasonable as all of the other prices at this clinic are fair.

I've got pregnant on two cycles out of two with this clinic, but I've miscarried both (which has nothing to do with the clinic - I may have a blood clotting issue).

At first I felt a bit daunted about going abroad for IUI but it was a good decision. My clinic are supportive and seem to put their patients before their profits, whereas I've heard some fairly questionable things about some of the UK clinics (like encouraging women to have IUI on a Monday when for the timing to be right it should have been the Sunday. Many UK clinics are closed on Sunday but seem quite happy to take money off women and inseminate after the optimum time window!).

bananafish81 Fri 08-Jul-16 13:41:56

Smith how exactly does a clinic charge for recommending vitamins?

My DH doesn't have any male factor issues but our consultant said it was important for him to take vitamin C, zinc and selenium, as anti oxidants could help combat free radicals and sperm agglutination. Could. Not definitely would. But could.

It was advice given in a consultation

We bought the vitamins for a few quid in Boots

The studies may be inconclusive about absolute benefits of vitamins on sperm quality. But for a few quid for something that won't do any harm, and may be beneficial towards your overall health if you're deficient in these nutrients from your diet - I fail to see why this is a massive con?

The clinic weren't selling me them. They didn't benefit if he took vitamin C or not

There's a hell of a lot more controversial areas of fertility medicine without randomised controlled trials to justify their use, that clinics DO make money from. I'd be much more concerned about them than recommending a £3 pot of vitamins!

bananafish81 Fri 08-Jul-16 13:48:16

And again the plural of anecdotes is not data but two friends both had treatment for male factor. 6 months of supplements and their DH sperm counts improved from low to very very normal. Motility improved too. Coincidence? Possibly. Maybe something else caused the sperm count to triple vs prev SA before starting the supplements. Striking coincidence that the sperm counts should change so drastically after 6 months of supplements and lifestyle changes if so.

poaspcos Fri 08-Jul-16 13:54:06

Diet changes are probably the most significant thing he can do but also stop him carrying his phone in trouser pocket and limit his use (well, tell him to try it rather than order it lol)

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