Our precious boys...

Our precious boys...

Friday, May 22, 2009

INFERTILITY: THE SECOND YEAR – Shock

October 2007 through October 2008

Actually, it wasn’t until after that one year mark, that I really really started to realize something wasn’t right. We should have become pregnant by now! We set up a doctor appointment with my family practice doctor in order to get referred to one of the doctors in the gynecology department.

We went to our first doctor appointments and preliminary tests. While waiting for the results, I wondered what news I really wanted to hear. Of course I wanted everything to be perfectly fine with both Nick and I. But, maybe we did want them to show something wrong. Then at least we’d have more specific reasons of why we couldn’t conceive.

As far as I knew, everything seemed "okay" with me. My periods have always been like clockwork and with taking the ovulation pee sticks and charting temperatures, my ovulation seemed to be right on schedule every month.

Nick’s sperm analysis came back with low sperm count. But not horribly low. The doctor explained that 20 million is a normal sperm count. And out of that "normal" 20 million, you want 10 million that are actively swimming. Nick had 14 million and 7 million that were active. So, 70% "normal."

My sister, Jesse, convinced me that this was good news. You’d rather know what the “issue” was rather than them not find anything at all. Now we knew what was happening and we could do something to help. Which after pondering more, I decided was true. I think about those couples who have “unexplained infertility” and it just breaks my heart. Doctors can’t find any medical reason or explanation for someone not being able to conceive or be able to conceive without a later miscarriage.

So, I thought – at least now we can try to do things to help this. Our doctor gave us a few ideas, but we did a lot of researching on our own. We looked for things to help increase sperm count. Nick started taking zinc, which is known to increase sperm count and mobility. Jesse looked through her medical books and told us about things to take to increase fertility, sperm mobility/count, etc.

Sperm…I never knew I could know so much about sperm. Did you know that sperm counts are higher in the winter (because it’s cooler)? And sperm counts are also higher in the morning? Did you know you should avoid lubricants because they interfere with sperm mobility? And to increase sperm counts you can take Vitamin C and Zinc. And things like using hot tubs, wearing tight fitting boxes, and bike riding can all affect sperm quality? And there’s more factors than you’d think. There’s the amount of sperm, the shape, and the motility. Below is a short blurb on Sperm from the Mayo Clinic.

From: www.mayoclinc.com
To achieve its goal, sperm must have three things going for it:

• Quantity. You're most likely to be fertile if you have more than 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen. However, researchers are finding that having healthy sperm (the quality) may be just as important as the total amount of sperm you produce. Of the millions of sperm in the ejaculated semen, only about 200 actually reach the egg in a woman's fallopian tube. But, just one is needed to fertilize the egg.

• Quality. It's not enough just to have enough. Sperm shape and structure (morphology) are equally important. You are most likely to be fertile if more than one-third of your sperm are of normal shape and structure. A normal sperm has an oval head and a long tail that propel it forward. Sperm with large, small, tapered or crooked heads or kinky, curled or double tails are less likely to fertilize an egg.

• Motility. To reach the target, your sperm have to move. Riding the semen wave will only take the sperm so far. To reach the egg, sperm have to move on their own — wriggling and swimming the last few inches to reach and penetrate the egg. Sperm movement (motility) is an important characteristic of healthy sperm. You're most likely to be fertile if at least half of your sperm are moving.

Next on the list of testing was my hysterosalpingogram. (Please see posting of "HYSTEROSALPINGOGRAM" for more information on this wonderful event!) HA!

During this second year of infertility, we experienced shock. After all the initial blood tests, sperm analysis, my hysterosalpingogram, rounds of clomid medication, and three IUI (inter uterine insemination) procedures done with no success, we were devastated. We weren’t enjoying many of our doctoring experiences here. (As previously explained in prior posts.) We knew the sperm might not be getting to the egg, so this should help it along. In an IUI, the sperm is directly injected through the cervix into the uterus. I like to refer to it as the “turkey baster” method! It’s basically assisting the sperm to get closer to the egg. About 20% of IUI’s are successful, which is the same percentage a fertile couple has of getting pregnant on their own each month. (Please see the posting "What is an IUI?" for more specific information!)

At this point we had done all we could do at our clinic, and now it was time to move on and get referred to the specialists over at the Mayo Clinic.

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