The long and short of trying.
Posted on March 24, 2011
You always hear this – grow up, study. Graduate, get a job. Find a gf, get married, get a house, get one or two kids. You know. That same old same old. Sounds easy. Well, some of us can tick off some or all of those points, easily. Some not so.
We have been trying to have a baby for a while and yet, till date all we have in the family are our two cats – Coco and Emi. That’s not to say they ain’t cute. But hey, they won’t grow up and take care of you when you are old.
Anyway, back to us.
We did our share of shagging. With months gone, nothing to show. Wife decided that she’d seek some professional help since we can’t seem to get the baby the natural way – cue the gynae. She went for some checks to see her plumbing are well and then gynae suggested that I should check mine too. You know, just in case.
Yes me as well.
Guys, don’t assume that your sperms and their mode of transport are perfect. For us, at least the tests are not intrusive. To ensure our testes are working as they should, you just get some jelly applied on your brothers by a nurse and gets manhandled and scanned. If you can’t control yourself, doing some mental mathematics or sing a nursery rhyme in your mind. According to the doc, mine are fine.
So if they are fine, then the next to test are your sperms, or what another doctor refers to, as my soldiers.
You have seen clips of wriggly sperms zooming through and going to attack the egg – somewhat like the Durex ad above. Well, my soldiers are not like those. Well at least not all of them.
Mine are lazy bastards.
To find out what kind of sperms I have, I took a seminal fluid analysis. This tests the quality of your sperms and will help to identify the possible reasons why they aren’t fertilising the egg.
But before the tests to be done, you will need to do your collection which can be done either at home or at the clinic. If done at home, you will need to get to the clinic within an hour, or your soldiers will all become glorified heroes, soaked but dead. Wasted.
Oh just to give you an idea what to expect if you were to go to a clinic to unload your soliders, watch the short clip below.
This are some of the items that are usually analysed when you do the test:
- Volume of semen – typical collection is between 2-6 millilitres – or about one to one and a half teaspoon
- Consistency (thickness) of the semen – too thick and your sperm’s movement will be impeded
- Sperm concentration (density) – a normal sample will have 20 million or more per mL – lower density equals to less sperm…
- Total number of sperm – erm just multiply the volume and the density, basic maths…
- Sperm motility (percent able to move as well as how vigorously and straight the sperm move) – there are basically 4 grades of motility:
- Grade 4: Sperm with progressive motility. These are the strongest and swim fast in a straight line. Sometimes it is also denoted motility a. (aka gungho commandos – just cheong towards the target)
- Grade 3: (non-linear motility): These also move forward but tend to travel in a curved or crooked motion. Sometimes also denoted motility b. (aka topo-king – can’t find their way around even if there’s only one tube to go)
- Grade 2: These have non-progressive motility because they do not move forward despite the fact that they move their tails. (aka lobo-king – you know what they are)
- Grade 1: These are immotile and fail to move at all.
- Number of normal and not normal (defective) sperm – normal means a sperm with a properly formed head and tail. anything else will be defective. easy to know which is preferred.
- Coagulation and liquefaction – Formation of seminal coagulum helps to keep the semen in vagina while liquefaction of semen coagulum helps the sperms to move towards egg or ovum…
- Fructose (a sugar in semen)
- pH (acidity) – too low (acidic) might indicate blockage of your pipes to deliver your sperm, while too high (basic-too alkaline) might indicate an infection.
- Number of immature sperm – if high means you need to grow up. j/k. means your sperm are not fully developed and might affect fertility.
- Number of white blood cells (cells that indicate infection) – high levels might also indicate infection, which as you know is no good.
From the results, in a nutshell, I have insufficient numbers of gung-ho, healthy commandoes to do the deed and at the same time, there are also a fair bit of Pes-C soldiers, aka defective sperms which are not ideal as well. According to some reports, there is no one pill that will improve the quantity and quality of your sperm. But in general, healthy living and eating will definitely improve. Also, ever thought why your testes are outside our body and not in? Well, this is basically to moderate the temperature so that your soldiers won’t get heat stroke, especially in our warm weather. So daily wearing of jeans is kinda frowned upon.
Though it takes just one out of a few millions of sperms to fertilise the eggs, odds will suggest that it will be easy. Don’t seem to be.
So what can we do?
Most of us have heard of IVF - in vitro fertilisation – which basically means you bring your egg and your sperm and get them to date, meet and fertilise in a petri dish. However, that is usually the last resort when other assisted reproductive technology fails. One of which, was recommended for us by the gynae.
Intrauterine inseminations or IUI, which in laymens’ term, is getting sperms and injecting them into the uterus via the cervix with a thin catheter. Basically it is like getting your elite soldiers being heli-inserted deep into enemy grounds so that they can reach their target and complete their objective. Sounds simple right? Not exactly.
First the sperms used for IUI needs to be of the best quality sperms. Using the same soldier analogy, this means selecting the best and the fittest – aka your commandoes and your guardsmen – from the millions of sperms you collected. So the “washing” of sperm takes place in the clinic where they find the best samples, boost them to improve motility and once that is done, you bring them to the uterus.
The IUI catheters are these long flexible tubes which will bring your sperms closer to the egg, right into the uterine cavity. Though thin, if not done properly this will bring great discomfort when it is being inserted. Then nature takes its course.
So an IUI cycle goes like this – wife takes medicine and sometimes even take jabs to induce ovulation. When it is time, I’ll go jerk-off somewhere and send the sperms for washing. After which, the sperms are brought to the clinic for them to be inserted into the uterus. And then you wait. (Please note this is just a very superficial overview of the whole process – so please consult a doctor if you want more details.)
We have done them for 6 times.
So why do we do this?
Simple. We want kids, or kid. If we succeed, we will probably stick to just one.
The whole process is painful. More for her than me. I just get to jerk off once. She gets probed, injected and go through multiple rounds of medicine. And if we are fortunate and succeed, she’ll have to carry the baby through 9 months and go through other unimagined pain. Something which we guys won’t know nor understand.
So is there a point to this long epic post?
1. To share with anyone what we go through, especially the guys. I know guys will never consider that there might be something with them if they can’t conceive. It definitely didn’t cross my mind.
2. Never underestimate the will power and strength of a woman who has set her mind on something. Especially when it is about having a kid.
3. Appreciate your wife. They go through lots more than we men will ever go through when it comes to having a child. If she wants that diaper bag which might just be an expansive bag with huge space to carry diaper, get it (of course within limits…).
4. I never say this enough. I love my wife.
We are crossing our fingers and toes as we’ve done one final IUI cycle. If this fails, we know where we will be going next.
Just to end this long post with a long video – The Great Sperm Race – it is an interesting documentary about the whole process of human conception but done in a clever and sometimes humorous way.
Seat back, relax and watch your soldiers in action.