Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Semen struggles


Although MM's first semen sample tested essentially normal in terms of count and motility, because it was a lower-than-normal volume (0.6 ml instead of 2-5 ml), had a "borderline high" number of round cells, and did not include strict Kruger morphology, our RE told us that he wanted it repeated prior to performing any IUIs. The RE wanted to make sure that MM could produce a normal-volume sample, has normal morphology, and that the round cells seen were not white blood cells, indicating infection or inflammation.

My husband is a generally anxious person, so it's probably no surprise that he has some performance anxiety as well. Since the beginning of our relationship, this has only rarely been an issue for us, but there have been a few occasions when he could not perform on demand. And apparently it has happened to him with previous partners as well

Given his performance anxiety, MM did not have a good experience providing his first semen sample. As instructed, he did it at the RE's office. He called me afterwards to say that he thought that he hadn't provided an adequate sample because "it was a lot less than usual." (When I asked how he knew this, he assured me that he had masturbated often enough to know the amount of his usual ejaculation.)

He also talked about how "traumatized" and uncomfortable he felt. Apparently staff were regularly walking down the hall past the room where he was sent to masturbate (the masturbatorium? not sure what they call it), and though the door was locked, he had a lurking fear that someone would walk in on him. Also, several things about the room itself didn't exactly put him "in the mood" (he could provide a much more colorful description). Finally, just the pressure of the situation got to him as well. Because of all these things, he wasn't able to get fully aroused, and he believed that this was the reason that his specimen was a sub-normal volume.

I did try to be sympathetic in the beginning, but I will admit that my sympathy didn't last long. I couldn't help comparing his experience to what I go through every year for my annual pelvic exam--not to mention my vaginal ultrasound and HSG and the possibility of future injections, etc.--and thinking that he was getting off [ha! a pun!] pretty easy.)

Because of all these issues, MM was convinced that he could provide a better specimen if he was allowed to produce it at home and bring it in for testing. He discussed it with the RE, and the RE told him that he could do this, so long as he brought the specimen in for testing within 30 minutes of production (for lack of a better word).

We live a 25-minute drive from our RE's clinic, so MM knew that this would put him on a tight schedule. He still thought it would be preferable to ejaculate at home. (I thought that he should just get used to the idea of doing it at the office, since he will have to do that when/if we do any type of intervention. . . . but he was so vehement on the subject that I kept my thoughts to myself

Because we have a follow-up appointment with the RE on the 25th and may be starting IUIs next cycle, MM needed to get his repeat S/A done this cycle. Today was the day of his appointment

Even before I went to bed last night, MM let me know that he wanted me out of the house by 9:30 at the latest. He had a drop-off time of 10:30 for his specimen, so he would have to produce it between 10:00 and 10:05, and he needed "alone time" to "prepare" prior to doing so. (My husband would never let me watch him masturbate under any circumstances; he has some prudish, Midwestern sensibilities about some things which I obviously do not share.)

I dutifully left at 9:30 on the dot and, to be honest, forgot about MM. I hit a lot of traffic on the road leading from our house to the freeway due to construction. I thought about calling MM to give him a heads-up to take another route. . . . but didn't want to call right then and interrupt his "alone time

By the time I arrived at the office and remembered to call MM to warn him to take another route. . . it was too late; he was already stuck in the same traffic. (To be fair, I'm not sure that any alternate route would have allowed him to make it to the RE's office within 30 minutes anyway.) As we were on the phone, he realized that he was not going to get his specimen to the office in time for testing. Understandably, he was pretty angry and frustrated.

MM told me that he still had difficulty getting fully aroused even at home because of the time constraint, although he was able to eventually get the job done and ejaculate "a good amount." When he'd cooled off a bit and we talked again, he said that he would just have to "come in the cup" at the office in order to avoid any traffic delays in the future.

I was very relieved that MM arrived at this conclusion on his own. I couldn't help thinking "what if this had been the specimen for our IUI instead of just for testing?" We would've been totally screwed, and I would have taken days of hormones for nothing.

When he was at his most upset, MM kept saying to me "I don't want to do this." I simply responded "Well, what alternative do we have?" He realizes that the alternative--likely never having a child of our own--is worse than having to ejaculate at the doctor's office. . . no matter how uncomfortable it makes him.

I do understand how he feels. I really don't want to do this either. And by "this," I mean use medical assistance to have a baby. But I guess it's not worse than not having a child at all.

After his initial frustration subsided, he said he'd just reschedule. But one dilemma remained: "What am I supposed to do with this cup of come?"

Ultimately, he decided he'd just toss it in the dumpster in the neighborhood where he works. His office is in the ghetto, so I doubt it's the first time that dumpster has had semen in it.

P.S. I think this may go without saying. . . but to those who know me in real life and read this blog, MM would be quite unhappy if he knew I'd written about this. So keep it on the down low. . . .

1 comment:

  1. I cannot imagine how hard it is to do this on-demand and in an office situation. The situation that we have to endure as women sucks too, but at least I'm not being asked to have an orgasm while sitting in stirrups. :)

    I've often notices that I have to let my husband come to his own conclusions on many issues...they are usually the avenue that I would have suggested, and it takes a bit longer to get to that place, but he's happier when he does it on his own.

    And sorry, but I have to laugh about the dumpster.


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