“If I had been given good information earlier I could have tackled some of my fertility issues and that may have prevented my divorce and anxiety”, explains Michael Close in this guest blog, he only found out in his forties that an undescended testicle was the reason why he had struggled to have a baby with his former partner.
My partner and I didn’t think there was a fertility issue on either side. So, when we got serious about starting for a baby in our mid to late 30’s, we knew of no reason why we shouldn’t have been able to conceive.
We tried for several years but month after month no joy. We went to see our GP to discuss how to improve our fertility chances. We were simply told to ‘keep trying’, ‘don’t worry about it’ and to ensure to take folic acid, regular exercise, and eat a balanced diet.
As you can imagine as further time passed and still no joy, it started to increase our anxiety about whether we were likely to become parents at all. After six years the impact on our relationship was so great we agreed to divorce.
What has this experience done to me?
It’s made me a stronger man, a person who wants this area of medicine to be taken seriously, with good information, access to the best diagnostics available and affordable. I also want to see good quality and clinically tested treatments made available to those that need it.
What Michael didn’t realise was that a condition he had been born with was contributing to infertility
I am now 46 years of age and with a new partner. I only discovered the reason for my infertility a few years ago when a urologist work friend advised me to have some tests.
In my early 30’s I experienced a urinary tract infection and an investigation revealed that I had been born with undescended testicles, one of which descended naturally over time.
I was immediately referred to a urologist who advised that the undescended testicle should be removed as this could lead to a pre-cancerous or cancerous state – if not then, sometime in the future.
So I agreed to get it removed, was given some antibiotics and recovered shortly afterwards.
The potential for undescended testicles to be precancerous was not mentioned to me or my parents back in the 70’s (maybe it was not known or looked for back then). After the surgical removal of one of my testicles, the impact on future fertility was never discussed or mentioned by the urologist treating me, perhaps as I still had one good one left (or so I thought).
I later learned that having undescended testicles is one of the leading contributory factors of infertility in men – much to my frustration and anger. I am still concerned that the medical profession is not recognising this condition or testing men early for fertility issues or providing strategies to support them in later years.
Fertility treatment with new partner
I’m now in a new relationship and certainly know a lot more than I ever did about this area – in fact, I’ve probably become an expert patient.
I needed specialist urology male factor fertility advice, and I’ve gone through surgical sperm retrieval directly from my remaining testicle (TESE) after getting ‘baby fit’, with regular exercise, no hot baths, cycling, phones in pockets, laptops off lap etc for six months, but also good recommended anti-oxidant nutrition.
I’ve got five vials of good DNA quality sperm stored in deep freeze, but had two rounds of failed IVF/ICSI, despite having four clinically viable blastocysts.
However, this experience is not going to waste as I am using it to benefit others.
What I now know about male infertility
I now run a pharmaceutical company, LogixX Pharma Solutions, which specialises in therapies for fertility, amongst other medical therapies. This includes Proxeed, a nutritional supplement for boosting male fertility.
I have surrounded myself with world leading experts in the fertility field to try and understand not only my own fertility factors but also using what I now know about male infertility to help others achieve their dreams and desires to become parents.
I’ve learnt that:
- Time is always against us and so is our paternal age for fertility. Testing men early is not only less invasive but also less costly than female testing so it makes sense to do this first.
- We are what we eat and we must eat and excrete proportionately. Our bodies are like machines that need good input, stimulation, fuel etc to get great outputs (performance) like a Formula 1 racing car.
- A child combines genetic information from both the mother and the father and it is important to ensure that the integrity/quality of this information from either partner is the absolute best it can be when trying for a baby.
- We need to look carefully at ourselves in terms on lifestyles, our stress factors, our nutrition, our exercise and ensure that we can optimise ourselves as much as possible before we take professional healthcare advice if still experiencing issues.
- The very first step for couples trying to conceive who are experiencing issues is to diagnose/test male factor infertility early with a referral to a specialist urologist who looks after male fertility. Ask the specialist how to test your sperm DNA and quality parameters and how to enhance this based on known risk factors.
Improving male fertility
It’s not all about IVF, it’s about general health, understanding the medical conditions and the risk factors that can lead to sub-fertility issues. It’s about having access to the best diagnostics and treatments the world can offer to provide hope and fulfil dreams.