So here you are, having tried to get pregnant for a year and nothing… Not a miscarriage or a missed period. You and your partner are looking at each other askance, scared to say “let’s go to the doctor”. Your situation might even be worse. Perhaps you have been to the doctor and have been tested and you sat there trying to make head or tail of the bad news of your combined infertility and the options available to you.
Now that you have staggered, found your footing and absorbed the news, what are the options available to you? Can you afford them?
Medication: Hormonal imbalances can be treated with medicines, as can erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
Surgery: To repair blockages in the tubes that transport sperm or to repair varicose veins in the testicals.
ART: Assisted Reproductive Technology (see above in the, treatments for women’ section).
For both men and women, the following lifestyle changes will improve your overall health and also your chances of conceiving and having a healthy baby:
Stop smoking cigarettes or marijuana: Smoking tobacco has been linked to low sperm counts and sluggish motility. Long-term use of marijuana can result in low sperm count and abnormally developed sperm. In women, smoking has been linked to premature menopause.
Decrease your drinking: Alcohol can reduce the production of normal sperm.
Watch your weight: Both overweight and underweight people can have fertility problems. With too much weight, there can be hormonal disturbances. And when a man’s too lean, he can have decreased sperm count and functionality. The same is true for women, with acute hormonal imbalances resulting in few or no menstrual periods.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables: These will keep your circulation in great shape, which is necessary to move all those hormones around, and also for your sex life.
Exercise: Again, this is not just great for your circulation but also for all bodily organs. Exercise will also help you deal with the stress of trying to conceive and increase your libido.
Avoid toxins: Landscapers, contractors, manufacturing workers, and people who have regular contact with environmental toxins or poisons (pesticides, insecticides, lead, radiation or heavy metals) are all at risk of infertility.
Adoption: The world is full of orphaned children in need of a good home. And with the new law banning foreign adoption of Kenyan babies, it is up to us to provide a solution. The process takes about a year. You must get a lawyer and you can expect at least two home visits from a social worker. Nobody expects a lavish home, just provide for the basic needs of a child and lots of love.
When you think about all that can go wrong and just how small the chances of conception are on a monthly basis, it is no wonder that sex feels so good and we are so driven to have it.
As you deal with infertility as a couple, here are some relationship issues that might come up:
Anger: One or both partners may be angry at the partner with the infertility issues. This might look like promiscuity, avoidance of sex altogether, withdrawal of intimacy or denial of what is actually happening.
In-laws: Running commentary from people who think they have a vested interest in your reproduction – opinions, rude comments about barrenness and ideas on what you can do and so on.
Differences in what each partner is willing to do to become a parent: Financially (treatments are expensive, would you mortgage your home?), and even scientifically (one might be willing to try medical treatment but not surgery).
Impact of hormonal treatments: High doses of hormones make you moody, frantic and very emotional. This can take a toll on a marriage.
Emotional exhaustion from trying to get pregnant and failing: Getting a negative result month after month can be heartbreaking, and you must both decide when enough is enough.