I felt guilty all the time – a male perspective on IVF treatment

“I felt guilty about everything.” Karl recalls the moment he was told that the reason for the couple’s infertility was his low sperm motility. “I remember feeling crushed at the time, especially for my wife who I knew would be a natural mum. I had to be the crutch for her whilst trying to deal with my own grief.

“I always wanted to be a dad. I was looking forward to teaching my child about the world and playing games with them, just as my own Dad had with me.

“I realised this desire even more when friends and colleagues started to have babies seemingly easily and we were having no luck.”

“We did tell family and a few close friends that we were trying for a baby but it was difficult to talk about, especially when your best friend’s wife becomes pregnant by ‘accident’.”

Low sperm motility

Karl and Jamie tried for three years for a baby before they sought advice and were referred for fertility testing.

“We went to our local hospital for the tests and sat waiting surrounded by pregnant families. It was abhorrent and probably the biggest struggle in our journey.”

Then, just days before their wedding day, the couple received the results that revealed Karl’s sperm had low motility due to a trauma that he had incurred when 14 years old.

“We resorted to saying ‘we’ll see’ to those that asked ‘when we were going to have a family’.”

As the couple fulfilled NHS-funding criteria they were referred for IVF and chose to go to Bourn Hall Clinic Cambridge; which is dedicated to fertility treatment rather than a large hospital.

They had IVF with ICSI, which involves injecting a single sperm into the egg. One or two of the resulting embryos can be transferred to the womb and any additional embryos can be frozen for future use.

Jamie sadly miscarried on their first attempt at IVF.

“I felt absolutely useless,” Karl recalls. “Seeing her massive emotional and physical journey – and being unable to do anything to help, especially with the pain of a miscarriage.

“I decided to take Jamie away on holiday to America, which we found beneficial. It gave us space and a chance to discuss our options; we even formed a ‘no baby plan’.”

Male perspective

Back from holiday the couple decided they wanted to try again and embarked on their second cycle, which was unsuccessful.

“I tried to maintain a positive attitude and support my wife, but it wasn’t always easy and I struggled with not having any control.”

Karl recalls the lowest moment:

“I was told by two of Jamie’s closest friends (one by call one by letter), on the same day, that they were both pregnant with a third child each.

“I had no idea how to tell Jamie. In the end, I just hugged her tight and told her straight. It was difficult because we were both happy for them but achingly upset about how difficult it seemed for us. I think we both found that day the hardest of all.

“For our third and final NHS-funded treatment I tried to make sure I was as healthy as possible and as a couple we tried various things, including acupuncture, and vitamin supplements, in case they helped our chances.”

“Ecstatic to be a dad!”

The couple returned to Bourn Hall and more tests showed that Jamie’s immune system was rejecting the embryos. It was recommended she take steroids to improve the chances of implantation in their last funded cycle.

“We did feel an extra sense of pressure as if it didn’t work we would have to fund it ourselves but in a strange way we felt more relaxed as we knew what to expect and we were being proactive by trying all these other things.”

The couple’s third cycle proved to be successful and Jamie gave birth to a baby boy in Summer 2015.

“Ecstatic to be a dad!” declares Karl. “Although I would recommend IVF for the outcome we’ve achieved, people need to be aware of the emotional and physical journey to get here and that there is no guarantee of a baby.

“Bourn Hall was fantastic! The staff were very supportive throughout our treatment.

“If we decide to go for any further treatment and use our frozen embryos we will certainly return to Bourn Hall Clinic.”

For more information…

Click here to find out more about male infertility treatments.

To read more about NHS funding click here.

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