A wife and mother shares how she and her husband coped with male factor infertility. If you’re struggling with male infertility, this interview with Kelly Damron will help you see your marriage – and yourself more – clearly.
“When Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer, no one made jokes about how he was less of man because he had cancer of his privates,” says Kelly, who wrote Tiny Toes: A Couple’s Journey Through Infertility, Prematurity, and Depression. “The same should apply to a man diagnosed with infertility.”
“Not having swimmers” or “shooting blanks” isn’t a reflection on a man’s masculinity – though it does feel that way to some men. But, not every man lets male infertility get him down – like Kelly Damron’s husband!
Here, Kelly shares her journey with her husband through the ups and downs of male infertility.
Coping With Male Factor Infertility – A Wife’s Perspective
One reason my husband wasn’t too upset about not having adequate semen is because he is a very confident person. And, he didn’t equate his “swimmers” with his manhood. He recognized that his male factor infertility was associated with a physical condition, probably genetic. Sperm didn’t have anything to do with his manliness.
I didn’t see him differently because of his poor semen results. However, it did change my perception of the purpose of sex during that time in our lives. Part of my thought process was, “why bother” when we knew there is no way we would ever get pregnant. I lost interest in sex for a short period of time, but I think it was less associated with my new opinions of my husband and more associated with the total disappointment, and slight case of depression, of not being able to conceive a child through spontaneous love-making.
If you are looking for a solution for male factor infertility, read How to Solve Male Fertility Problems, Such as Low Sperm Count.
The hardest part about coping with male factor infertility was the disconnect between my husband and me about the diagnosis of infertility. All I wanted was to be a mom. I was willing to pursue any medical treatments at whatever cost; my husband was hesitant to try fertility treatments. He didn’t understand why we had to “pay” to have a child when everyone else was able to get pregnant and build their families for free. In addition, he was afraid the fertility treatments might not work. He didn’t know what that would mean to our marriage, if we didn’t end up with a child.
We fought a lot because I wanted to add a child to our family and he wanted to live a childfree life. Once he made up his mind that he wasn’t meant to be a father, which was a determination he made after receiving his infertility diagnosis, he didn’t really understand why I didn’t just give up the desire for a child too. I broached the subject of adoption, but he wouldn’t consider it. I started to resent him for taking away my dream of being a mom.
We contemplated divorce because we couldn’t find a middle ground. My husband didn’t agree to consider fertility treatments until I told him that he needed to decide between getting a divorce or attempting to become parents through in vitro fertilization (IVF).
If you’re considering in vitro fertilization, read Should You Try IVF to Get Pregnant?
Our best option for infertility treatment because of my husband’s sperm semen was IVF with intrauterine insemination (ICSI). We didn’t do any lower cost treatments because there was no point. His sperm count and quality was too low for artificial insemination, so we didn’t get to ease into the advanced medical procedures. We jumped right in.
We became pregnant during our first cycle with twins! At the time we didn’t realize how risky twin pregnancies are, but we learned that the hard way. Thankfully, our girls are doing well today!
Many people who are not in the midst of infertility are surprised to learn that male factor infertility accounts for about 35% of all cases. Many people equate infertility with being a woman’s issue. Even though it is the woman who has to undergo the medical procedures, it’s not always the woman who has the fertility problem.
In general, men expect their equipment to work properly, but sperm production is very sensitive. Usually there is a physical condition associated with male factor infertility; therefore, it is properly categorized as a disease. For more information on male factor infertility, read What Causes Unexplained Infertility in Men? Damaged DNA in Sperm.
With a medical crisis, such as infertility, even a good marriage can be tested. The key is communication and honoring the other partner’s feelings. My husband and I did a lot of assuming. I assumed he was willing to move forward with treatments. He assumed the cost of treatments would scare me away (I tend to be frugal). Also, since someone was telling him he wasn’t meant to be a father, he accepted that we would live childfree life. Neither of us can pinpoint where our communication breakdown occurred and we were both surprised by the challenges it created in our relationship. If a good marriage can survive infertility it will even stronger when your journey ends!
If you aren’t sure you’re coping with male factor infertility, read 5 Signs You Should See a Fertility Doctor.
I welcome your thoughts on coping with male factor infertility below.
Kelly Damron was blessed to become a mother of twin daughters after her struggle with infertility. Although lucky to become pregnant through Assisted Reproductive Technologies, her twin girls were born ten weeks prematurely and spent seven weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Since then, she has dedicated her life to helping other women and couples manage the emotional stress of infertility and premature birth. Visit her at TwinPeas.com.