I didn’t realise my hilarious ‘massive balls’ would make me infertile

When Shaun’s testicles became very swollen whilst he was ill with mumps he thought it was hilarious and so did his friends. He was in his early twenties and looking forward to making a full recovery and jetting off on a ‘lads’ holiday’. Many years later however, he came to realise that it had in fact been no laughing matter – as he explains in this guest blog.

My infertility journey began in 2005 when I was 22 – although very much unknown to me at the time. The picture (right) is from a lads’ holiday in Magaluf in July of that year. Not a care in the world, other than where the next shot was coming from.

A couple of months earlier, I had been really ill with mumps. It was horrendous. I had joint pain, a fever, and barely ate for three weeks. The glands in my neck swelled up, and after that subsided – and crucially – the swelling passed to my balls. They were MASSIVE!

It was also the time of early camera phones, so not wanting to miss an opportunity, I got a picture of my huge balls on my Nokia 6230 and sent it to my mates. They were loving it, and I thought it was funny too. I eventually recovered and was glad to put it all behind me and go away with the lads.

Fast forward to 2017.

Shaun on holiday in Magaluf
Shaun on holiday in Magaluf

I’m now 34. After four years of marriage Jenna and I decided it would be a good time to start trying for children. She stopped taking contraception around May. Towards the end of the year we were still having no joy, so we went to see the doctor. I know that people tend to try for a year or so before speaking to a doctor – but in the past we had discussed the fact that I’d had mumps, and it was always in the back of our minds that it could have an effect on fertility. And I am glad that we didn’t delay in going, knowing now just how long the whole process takes.

Thankfully, the doctor took our concerns seriously, and referred us both for initial tests – mine being sperm analysis.

I had my first one in Feb 2018, and a few days later was called by the clinic to say that I needed to provide another sample in three months, which was routine, as they cannot make an accurate assessment from one test. I asked about the results, and they skirted around the issue a bit. I believe the phrase used was ‘sub-par’.

I had my second sperm analysis in June 2018, and again, I received a phone call afterwards. I will never forget this moment. I was at work, but had taken the call outside. The person told me that I had Azoospermia.


Azoospermia. A word I’d never heard before that moment, but would impact the rest of my life…

Hear Shaun and Jenna speak at the forthcoming Fertility Support Group

Related articles