Making the decision to start “trying” to have a baby was never one I was comfortable with. Kami was ready to have a baby when she was in 1st Grade. I on the other hand kept telling her that I “wasn’t ready”. Sorry to tell you, but you will never “be ready”. I had it set in my mind that I needed to be financially ready. What dollar amount? idk, but I know I didn’t have it yet. I needed to be ready timewise. I hadn’t yet done everything I wanted to without a child…travel, build a company, climb Everest. The point is, you will never be “ready” to have a kid.
Finally Kami convinced me that I was ready, and that we could start trying. I still don’t think I was, but I basically finally lost and gave into the incessant asking. So after 7 years of marriage, in 2011 we finally pulled the goalie, and started trying to get pregnant. We went through some very trying times during this period. After not getting pregnant for about a year and a half, we started to think something was wrong. Kami studied up a bit about infertility, consulted our insurance and her OB/GYN and decided that the first logical step was to have my sperm tested. Great now the pressure is on me.
Immediately I felt a sense of shame and guilt. What if I have a low sperm count? Worse, what if I am shooting blanks? As a man, this is what we have to offer to continue our lineage. This is the single most important masculating factor we see in ourselves. So you can understand my hesitancy in doing this. I kept putting it off, saying “If we don’t get pregnant next month, I’ll go in..” Finally the time came when Kami basically set up an appointment for me with a Urologist, Dr. Britton. But first, I had to give a sample. If you have never done this, it is one of the most awkward things one can experience. You go up to this quiet corner of the hospital with low lighting and no one around. A lab assistant greets you and does their best not to look you in the eye too much. Your hoping this is going to be some tenured older man that you will be passing the filled cup to when your done, but in my case it was a twenty something girl. Awkward. She gave me the cup and basically said bring it back with a sample in it when your done. I won’t get into the details of the rest of that story, but suffice it to say: It was not fun. Do you bring your wife with you or not? Do you build it up or just get it done as fast as you can? Weird questions for a weird situation. The lab sent the results to the Dr., so he would have them for our first meeting.
I was seriously dreading going to that first appointment. Dr. Britton came in and checked me out. Had to drop trowel, inspect the boys, and the whole bit. Finally he pulled out the results, and explained to me that it looks like I have a low sperm count. At the time, a normal sperm density was anywhere from 15 million to 200 million sperm per millimeter of semen. mine was less than 1.5 million. I was crushed. The chances of Kami getting pregnant with that sperm count were minimal. I had so many emotions. I felt like a failure, I am the only one I know with a low sperm count. I felt like I wasn’t a man, like Kami deserved so much more and I haven’t been giving her what she has wanted her whole life…nor will I be able to give that to her. A cloud of darkness overcame me that I have never felt. This was the hardest thing that I have ever gone through. I felt so much pain and anger. All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball. Leaving the Dr. Britton’s office, Kami drove and I just started balling. Like a little baby I was crying uncontrollably. I was lost.
Fortunately, Kami listened to Dr. Britton after he dropped that bomb, because I think everything went silent after I heard. As Kami later explained, and I began to recall, Dr. Britton said that believe it or not, having a low sperm count is somewhat normal, as it happens to over 50% of men. Wait, what?? I have never even heard anyone else say they had this. Well it’s not talked about because it is such a private and emasculating thing. I was diagnosed with what is called a Varicocele. In short, some valves stopped working in some veins in my testes, and this resulted in a low sperm count. About 15% of males have this in varying grades, and mine was a Grade II on a scale of 0-III. Dr. Britton felt confident that with a small procedure known as a Microsurgical Varicocelectomy, he may be able to correct this problem and in fact increase my sperm count. I was still skeptical, but decided that this is what needed to happen.
In October of 2013, I had the procedure. It was an outpatient procedure, and it went without a hitch. Within 3 months, I was able to produce another sample for testing. I found out that my sperm count had increased to 300 million sperm per milliliter of semen…incredible! It worked! I was elated. We now have a much larger chance of getting pregnant. I am forever indebted to Dr. Britton for what he did for me. I cannot thank him enough.
After it was all said and done, I really felt like I should let people know about this. So I started telling my story to everyone I was around, and let them know that if they ever have a low sperm count, or know someone who does, I would be happy to discuss any part of this with them…I’m an open book. I think that this is something that we as men should not be ashamed of. We should not be ashamed to share this experience with others and to embrace those with similar troubles. I know that not every man with a low sperm count can be cured or even improved, but I do know that does not in anyway mean you are less of man. God has a plan for you and he will bless you in other ways.
If you want to know more about the rest of the story read this article where I explain the details of my wife’s struggles with infertility.
Please leave any questions or comments about this matter below, and I will do my best to be of service to you. Let’s make this struggle less of a burden for others who discover they have this problem.