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Antisperm antibodies and high FSH

(8 Posts)
delilahbucket Mon 18-Jul-16 09:48:14

Hi everyone, I have NC for this post, although I think this is the first thread I have ever created on MN. I think I'm just looking for some support from those that get it because no one in real life really does.

Recently DP and I were told that our best chance to conceive is with ICSI. He has 50% antibodies and I have a high FSH. I haven't had the AMH test yet so don't know the full extent of how low my reserve is. The consultant was very blunt about it all and it felt like he wanted to make a decision there and then about whether to go ahead with ICSI. It will cost £4800 as I have a child from a previous relationship. If we moved five miles and over the county border it would be free. I sat in the office in tears with the consultant demanding we decide whether to have the AMH immediately because he needed to know.

It feels like ICSI has been rammed down our throat so the hospital gets the money. Even the nurse (who was sent in to speak to us because I was in such a state) said it was our only chance and surely we must be able to get the money. The fact of the matter is that we would have to borrow it and then face having debt to pay while I'm on mat leave which will put a huge strain on our finances.

My theory was that if we could up DPs sperm count (although it was very good at 37mil) then that would improve our chances. I've bought him Wellman and asked him (many, many times over the last year) to cut back on his drinking. He doesn't drink loads and loads, but over the course of last week I totted up his units and it was 28 (it's normally 30-40), which he has already been told is too high by the fertility nurse and it should be 3-4. He still won't cut back.

I'm stuck because part of me wants to say that I am not putting myself through anymore testing or even considering ICSI until he shows that he will make an effort too. Thus far he's done nothing. I lost two stone last year, changed my entire lifestyle and diet, starting doing opks, temping, put myself through Hell every month with my hormones (they severely affect a physical disability I have), and he won't even cut back on the booze for a few months. I just want to go back on the pill and forget it all. The stress of it is really affecting me and today I'm on the verge of having a panic attack or just crying every two minutes. How the heck do we move past this? Like a typical bloke he's just burying his head in the sand and won't discuss it. Every time I mention something fertility related I just get silence.

happylass Mon 18-Jul-16 21:00:35

Delilah I'm so very sorry you are going through this. About 2.5 years ago we were told that DH has 90% anti sperm anti bodies and we had very little chance of ever conceiving naturally. At the same time I found out that my AMH wasn't great, still within the normal range but on the low side. I remember the devastation all too well. Even though we'd been TTC for 18 months at that point I still never imagined we'd have a real fertility issue.
The truth of the matter is that you'll never be able to overcome the anti body issue as it makes the sperm stick together which means they can't swim free to fertilise the egg and even if one does manage to break free the head of the sperm is coated in some kind of substance which makes penetrating the egg impossible. There is some suggestion online that high doses of Vitamin C can help but I've no idea how accurate this is. Having said all that if only 50% of your DHs sperm are affected then you still have a reasonable chance of getting pg naturally.
I totally understand you wanting to improve your DH's lifestyle, especially given you are considering spending such a large sum of money. I force fed my DH vitamins and I only served 'clean' food at home (though I know full well he was eating all kinds of crap when out and about) but I failed miserably on the booze front. He's not a massive drinker anyway but there's no way he would give up completely and, tbh, neither did I really, other than in the 2ww of course.
The good news is I'm currently 16 weeks pg after 4 fresh cycles of ICSI, 2 FETs and 1 cancelled cycle (please don't let that put you off, it looks very much like I also had some kind of immune issue myself). Not sure that this is what you want to hear but our successful cycle came right after Christmas where both he and I had been boozing and eating lots of lovely treats! You have to remember that seriously unhealthy people including drug addicts get pg all the time. With ICSI they will select the best sperm anyway, although they only assess this visually.
Having said all that I completely understanding you wanting to give this your best shot. I think you need to sit your DH down and explain to him how much this is upsetting you. It takes 3 months to improve sperm quality which is a relatively short time to live a healthier lifestyle compared to the sacrifices you've made and would have to continue making if you become pg. if all else fails, cry grin
I wish you all the very best. Please update on how you get on. flowers

delilahbucket Mon 18-Jul-16 21:45:24

Thank you happy and congratulations. The consultant said the sperm that were affected could swim fine but couldn't penetrate an egg as the antibody was attached to the head, stopping the sperm from releasing the acid to breakdown the egg exterior. He led us to believe that we wouldn't conceive naturally, as did the nurse we saw afterwards. The way she was talking about my fsh made me feel like I'm barren at 31 years old! I'm still having normal periods though so am ovulating. I dont really know what affect a low reserve has on fertility. Does it mean you are more likely to not release an egg? Or just that your eggs are of a lesser quality. They don't explain these things!
Dp has leapt on the multi vitamins this evening, he just won't cut back on the booze. I don't think I'm mentally able to cope with icsi. We all have times when we feel down but I have never felt so sad. I feel like I'm in mourning at the moment. I'm not used to feeling so anxious and it's to the point it's just making me cross with myself because I want the tight chest and constant welling up to chuff off!

Chattycat78 Mon 18-Jul-16 22:05:51

Delilah- I can help with the high fsh Thing. Basically it means that you have less eggs than so beige what your age. The main effect on fertility is that you are likely to run out of time quicker than someone with better egg reserve who is the same age. It has absolutely no bearing on the quality of your eggs or whether you ovulate or not. I was told I had high fsh age 34 and that I needed Ivf. I did conceive straight after this news but it didn't work out. We then did ivf which was very fortunately successful. When my ds was 9 months old I got pregnant again naturally after trying for only 1 month. I recently gave birth to our second ds.

My point in telling g you this is that high fsh does not tell you whether you will conceive or not. The main factor in conceiving is egg quality and at 31 yours is likely to be good. All the fsh tells you is that you might have less time to conceive than someone else the same age.

Hope this helps.

Chattycat78 Mon 18-Jul-16 22:07:05

Typos.... You have less eggs than someone else the same age!

delilahbucket Mon 18-Jul-16 22:12:31

Thank you chatty. I really appreciate your help.

happylass Tue 19-Jul-16 16:12:33

Delilah I don't know much about FSH as mine was fine. I asked whether a low AMH meant poor quantity or quality of eggs. The consultant said definitely a lower quantity and probably a worse quality too sad. Having said that I always produced a reasonable number of eggs (8-12 on maximum stimms), our fertilisation rate was excellent as was the survival rate of our embryos through to blast. Our embryos were always of a good quality too (although the poorest one we used was the one that stuck confused). So it's definitely not all doom and gloom. My mantra has always been that you can only work with what you've got. Its no good thinking about the what ifs.
I'm sure you'll be able to cope with the ICSI. It's no walk in the park but the thought is far more daunting than the reality. I would'nt have done it 7 times if it was really that bad!
Here for a hand hold whenever you need it flowers. There is also a fantastic thread over on conception where all of the ladies are long term TTC#1 and are all going through treatment. Link is here:

delilahbucket Wed 20-Jul-16 14:49:23

Thanks happy

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