Fertility Network UK
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New to forum: Supporting partner with male-factor infertility

Hi All,

I've never joined or posted in a forum before, so I'm slightly nervous about this - forgive me if I make any rookie errors!

My husband and I are currently under the care of a fertility consultant, and our repeat test results show that we are dealing with male-factor issues; very low sperm count (last test 2.3mil, this time 4.4mil, so surely that's good news in a way?!), 13% motility. My own test results have been fine, so I next steps will be chromosome/genetic tests to determine a cause, and ultimately IVF.

I have to admit I am finding this very hard, I broke my heart today in front of all my work colleagues after he text me the results. I think I am most sad that my husband feels like it is entirely his fault. He has taken anti-depressants for over a decade, and made the decision to stop taking them as he read this can reduce sperm count and damage DNA. I'm not sure if it's made any difference, other than to add withdrawal and major clinical depression into the mix!

It also means I cannot discuss this with anyone, not even my own family. My husband sees this as emasculating and embarrassing, so he doesn't want anyone knowing at all.

I know this is obviously a painful subject for everyone, but I wanted to know what people have found helpful, and what information might I find useful? How can I best support my husband through all this?

I just want to mentally and physically prepare myself as best I can, so I really appreciate any advice you can offer. Many thanks in advance x

19 Replies
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It is so hard we have male factor only and I knew how much it upset my husband knowing it was all down to him. Every bloke is different but I have my hubby space and let him talk to me about it whenever and as hard as it has been (5 rounds !) I have always told him it's our issue not his to try and make him feel better cx

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Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. It's a lot to get our heads around, and we know we have so much to learn! I have said the same to my husband, how I see this as our issue, not his.

Out of interest, how long roughly was your wait between referral for IVF and actually starting it? I feel like I need to brace myself for a long wait (and find some projects to keep me occupied in the meantime!) x

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Our gp was brilliant we went to the doctors in the April just to start things off and started our first round in the December (could of started November but would of messed up with xmas) sounds like a long time but we had to do our test to see if there was any problems within that time also (day 21 bloods etc) so I don't feel like it was too long. The funny thing was after our second failed round I got upset and begged him not to leave me, he laughed and said it's the other way around love and I didn't even think of it lol good luck with the wait xx

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Hi Pugtato, as Lotbot said it is hard with male factor, especially as the lady has to go through the IVF treatment. I make sure my husband realises that it is not his fault and I don't blame him at all. Like Lotbot, it is our problem, not just his. We talk things through all the time and we have done several things to improve his situation after lots of research. Even if it only helps a tiny bit, at least we feel like we have been productive. We also have discussions where we discuss that if the shoe was on the other foot and it was something with me, then there wouldn't be any blame, so there's no blame for my husband either. Just show him that you are there to support him and always be honest and open with each other. Feel free to message me if you ever want to chat :) x

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Thank you so much. What sort of things did your research turn up? It's all worth a try I figure! x

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Hi Pugtato, we did a lot of research into vitamins to take and DH took these religiously, he takes Fertilisan M. We also got 'snowballs' after some recommendations, these are basically underwear designed to keep the area cool as heat is not good for sperm!! We bought loose boxers etc. We made sure that DH eats healthily as well as me, and he now eats a lot more fruit and veg. He doesn't drink anyway so didn't need to cut out alcohol, but we have swapped to decaf tea and coffee so cut out caffeine. This was all after our failed cycle. We also ended up seeing a well-known urologist after the failed cycle and DH is on tamoxifen and had a varicocele removed, but obviously that's our situation :) I hope that helps and do feel free to message me if i can help further. x

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Hi Pugtato,

The advice from the ladies above is spot on. We have had surgical sperm retrieval due to a blockage on hubby's side, so the process for us involves intensive medical treatment on both sides.

We talk a lot and unltimately my husband knows that if I had to choose it would be him everytime, no question.

As hard as the process is, it has made us closer than ever, which has been a nice benefit in a tough situation.

In terms of timings, the issue was diagnosed March 2015 with hub's surgery in November 2015, we were referred for IVF in Jan and I had to have basic checks which means we will now start our first cycle in December. We have funding through the NHS.

I'm here if you need to talk

Suzannah

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Welcome 😊

Sorry to hear of your struggles. Fertility is such a complex thing.

Im going to tell you my story- we had been ttc for 5 years -till it was discovered that I have polycystric ovaries. Previously it was unexplained.

I felt bad that it was coz of me we were struggling to have a baby-it is hard when the issue lies with you. In a way it was relief to know why in 5 years we hadn't conceived-there was an answer and a solution to the problem.

My hubby has never once blamed me for it- he sees sees it as our deal-we will fight this together and believes we will have a baby one day. He says even if we don't he'd still love me anyway 😘

I think he's just happy coz we are now getting the help we need to have a baby-I'm currently on my 4th round of clomid.

I think it is better to know the reason for it not happening and to have a solution to it-in your case IVF. Treatment has come a long way in the last few years.

It must be difficult for you hubby. I think men find it harder to deal with than us ladies- there is whole macho image. The red hot blooded male! An example of this many years ago when we attended our ex clinic- I smiled at the ladies there and they smiled back at me-we knew of each other's pain and felt empathy-my hubby was glared at by other men and the men there were acting very defensively-it was almost like they were implying it wasn't their fault the wife has the issue! Crazy.

I'm sure you know what to say to make your hubby feel that he isn't to blame. Just remind him you are both in this together. There is no fault or blame it is a awful situation to find ourselves-just a victim of a medical illness.

All the best and I hope your IVF cycle is successful

X

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Thanks everyone. We had a bit of a wobble yesterday so I put it to him the way MrsRL said, and asked him how he would feel if things were the other way around, and I think it helped!

We are back to the clinic on Monday, though we only just got the letter through from our last appointment which has some extra bloodwork requested for my husband, so I'm a bit worried they won't have enough info to make any decisions this time still. They said it was really going to be based on the semen analysis, so we have that bit sorted at least. Next will be CF and karyotyping. It never ends!

Another question; has anyone else been asked to have an MMR jab? I have low immunity despite being vaccinated as a kid. When I went to have this with my nurse she was really reluctant to do it, so I've rescheduled for now until I see my consultant again.

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You should go for ICSI if there’s a male factor. This is where they inject the Sperm into the egg so the Sperm do not have to ‘find their own way’. All the best.

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It’s really difficult with male factor. We’ve just had our first round of IVF ICSI and we are currently 8 weeks pregnant but it’s been 3yrs of TTC and a lot of tests to get to this point.

My OH had a similarly low count (2 million) and they graded them at the fertility clinic and he had 0% of Type A sperm (his were all Type B & C) which basically means they don’t swim straight. The hardest bit for him was having a rectal examination to test for testicular issues eg cancer (luckily he was fine but being prodded up the bum wasn’t nice).

Luckily I had a high AMH (lots of eggs) and we are both in good health so we started the short protocol beginning of November (which is 2 weeks of stimulation, then a trigger injection before egg collection and egg transfer 5 days later). By the end of Nov we were pregnant (which was a lot quicker than I anticipated).

With ICSI they just take the sperm and inject it into the egg - as a result you also tend to get a higher fertilisation rate than normal IVF. So as long as they can find a ‘normal’ shaped one, motility doesn’t matter as much as they are doing the hard part for you.

My OH was just glad they they found out what the problem was (as unexplained fertility is really difficult to deal with) and that ICSI was able to help us solve it. He took the view that there was no point stressing himself out trying to change everything as the chances of it making any difference were minimal (you need to get to 13-15 million for a ‘good’ count). It is also worth noting that if your husband has been poorly in the past 6 months, it can drastically affect your count & quality. Also, any changes will take 3 months to ‘kick-in’.

You have to do this together - my OH mixed all my meds for me and helped with injections and went into ‘protective mode’ - once the process starts you forget what the issue was and you just focus on loving & supporting each other through it.

I’m not a Dr but I’m not sure coming off his anti depressants is the best thing to do...

Good luck with everything and if you have any specific questions about anything just PM me. Xx

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Hi vansoire, your situation sounds similar to us except we are going through second week of injections now. My partner has low sperm and feels pretty down about it some days so it's hard. So lovely to hear you are now pregnant :-) congratulations I hope you are feeling well

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It can be really tough but as soon as he’s done his job, the focus shifts and it’s all about you and little bean! I think the key thing is for him not to get too stressed and just remember, they only need one to get the job done.

My OH was really nervous about performing in the ‘room of doom’ but he took his phone in and was taking pics of the ‘adult material’ cupboard and the vintage copies of Razzle to amuse himself and try and make light of the situation, which helped him a lot!

I’m really well thanks - we’ve got our 20 week scan next week and apart from the sickness, all is well!

Good luck with everything - not long to go now!! 🍀🤞

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Hi Pugtato, my other half has a similar count to yours and less than 1% swimming in the right direction... (I do also have PCO and endometriosis however) but sounds like we’re at a similar stage to you - we saw a specialist in November and had to do yet more blood tests (a repeat of FSH for me as mine were over 3 months old) - and my partner had to do a blood test for karyotyping. Whilst waiting for results (we were told 6-8 weeks for karyotype results) we’ve had the referral letter sent to our GP which we’ve both had to sign along with the doctor. Once the results from karyotyping are back, should all be ok we’ll receive an appt at our chosen ivf clinic and if there are any issues we’ll be asked to go back to the specialist - hopefully that can give you an idea of a timeline once your partner has had the karyotyping? Hope that makes sense and all the best in your journey 😘

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Hi, we also have male-factor and not going to lie it's been tough. Not helped much by the fact the DH is not really doing anything to help improve things. He had started taking vits and cutting out alcohol but when his 2nd lot of results came back worse he just gave up. We've been trying now for 2.5 years. Have a planning meeting on the 2nd Jan so we're hoping we'll get moving with ICSI shortly.

Trying to instil a dry Jan in the hope that will help. Wishing you the best of luck. X

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My partner and I are dealing with male factor infertility too. He was very private about it. It took a while and a kick up the a**, he told his parents we were having fertility treatment. He didn’t tell them why. Things are way better now. Fertility clinics offer counselling too which may be a good idea. We’ve just started IVF treatment (that’s what he always says - we - because we’re in it together!) and it’s helped him lots to help me with my needle phobia. I hope things work out for you :)

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That's amazing he's come round to telling parents. My oh was the same also, I spent months reading books and forums and told a few friends for support as I didn't just want to lean on eachother. I just had to wait for my partner to tell his parents in his own time (his mum is a worrier) so I understand why it took some time as he didn't want her to worry about us but now he knows the importance off off loading as this really is a big deal. I hope your journey goes well. He's so right it's both of you going through it. X

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I hope things go well for you guys too. Xxx

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Hi pugtato!

My husband and I also dealt with male infertility issue! He also did some treatment in our local fertility clinic. Unfortunately, the medication led us to nothing. Thus our fertility expert sent us to IVF treatment. We knew that IVF doesn’t provide positive and swift results at once. As the price for IVF is enormous we decided to undergo it in Ukraine. The search of the good medical centre with affordable price took really long time. But we managed to find in Kiev a clinic with a good price (5 IVFs rounds for around 30,000 euros). Unfortunately, our first and second rounds didn`t give any results. But we succeeded with the 3rd one.

Your husband should blame himself. According to anti-depressants, you should take a consultation with the fertility specialist thus it isn`t some vitamins.

I wish all the best to your family

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