I never dreamed getting pregnant would be so difficult. When it came time to “pull the goalie,” I thought it would happen almost instantly. It didn’t. With the passing of each month, my frustration, disappointment, and guilt grew.
The guilt was the worst.
For months I carried around the notion that I was the reason we couldn’t conceive. Maybe I should change my diet or take yoga to reduce my stress? What if my eggs were bad? What was I doing wrong?
About six months into our journey, I got pregnant! Nothing wrong with these eggs, baby! We were elated. I bought baby books, started dreaming up a nursery, and wandered around baby stores. Unfortunately, the pregnancy ended in miscarriage. It was traumatic for both my husband and me, but it gave us hope that a baby would be in our future.
We now knew we could get pregnant, so it was just a matter of when it would happen again.
After months without another pregnancy, I went to my doctor. She echoed our sentiment that we could get pregnant and sometimes these things take time. My cycle wasn’t exactly regular, so maybe we weren’t trying at the right time. But then a full year had passed without a successful pregnancy and I was in my 30s, so my doctor suggested some medication for me. I tried Progesterone, then Clomid. A little part of me faded away with the failure of each drug.
At one point, only in passing it seemed, did the idea of testing my husband’s fertility come up.
It honestly had never really dawned on me that the issue could be my husband as his genetic lineage has proved to be VERY fertile. And after all, we had in fact, conceived! So I assumed it was something that had gone wrong with me. As we began looking at more invasive and expensive options to get pregnant, my husband decided it was time that he get tested. He saw the strain this process was taking on me and wanted to help shoulder the burden in any way he could.
His test was much easier than I imagined. He dropped off a specimen, no machines or painful needles. I had no doubt his test results would come back totally normal. But when the doctor called with the results, they weren’t.
My husband’s sperm count was low. Really low.
In addition to a low sperm count, he had poor motility (meaning they weren’t swimming properly). The diagnosis was Varicoceles, which the Mayo Clinic defines as “an enlargement of the veins within the scrotum….Most varicoceles develop over time.” Scary as that sounds, it could easily be fixed.
After an outpatient procedure and a week of recovery, he was back to business as usual. We were told it would take at least three months before we could expect any results. Lucky for us, the results were much quicker and we found out (to our surprise) that we were pregnant roughly a month after his procedure!
When I share my family’s journey with others, they are often surprised that our difficulty getting pregnant was due to my husband’s “swimmers.” I too had never heard of male infertility until I was experiencing it. In my ignorance, I was fully willing to assume the guilt and responsibility for our reproductive problems. I did not realize that studies suggest over a third of infertility issues are caused by male conditions.