So much for “Super Sperm”

I may be feeling a little down in the dumps tonight, but I’m fairly certain my friend, Jeanette, is feeling far worse.  She found out today that her embryo has died.  Please stop by and give her some love.


Why do they do this to us?  Why do we let them fill our heads with hope and optimism, at least for a moment, before reality taps us on the shoulder and politely reminds us it’s not that easy?

Both Dr. C and Dr. S contributed to filling our heads with nonsense.  Dr. C once told me it was “possible” Hubby could achieve a normal sperm count.  Dr. S spewed some theory about newly minted sperm being superior and therefore likely to knock me up despite low counts.


In preparation for our upcoming IVF, Hubby had a test to look at the DNA of his sperm.  It also documented the usual data: count, motility, morphology.  While his count is still creeping upward, and his motility is actually pretty fantastic, nothing else about that test was exactly good news.  The numbers:

volume: 2.75 ml
concentration: .87 (870,000/ml)
motility: 66%
morphology: 2%
DNA fragmentation: 56%

For those of you not knee-deep in sperm knowledge, normal counts are 20 million/ml and above; morphology is 4%; and  fragmentation is less than 30%.  I know it doesn’t really matter.  We were planing on doing ICSI anyway, and since we decided to go ahead with PGS, we have no choice about it.  But, given these crap numbers, our IVF coordinator is now saying they’re going to need multiple samples from poor Hubby both the afternoon before and the morning of the retrieval.  If we get that far.

I haven’t convinced myself yet that this $20,000 endeavor is going to be successful.  I have my moments, but for the most part, it’s just too hard to believe.

If I’m being completely honest, I thought we’d be a lot further along by now.  The hopeful part of my brain, back when I had easy access to it, thought we’d have our first sperm show up about March of this year, six months after beginning Hubby’s injections, and a mere three months after adding hMG.  I wasn’t far off there; it was April when we discovered the first few swimmers.  And then, I thought, we’d just go ahead and dive in.  Why wait around, hoping for his count to go up, when we’d always been told IVF/ICSI was the only solution to our particular problem?  But, of course, Hubby not having a job or any clear prospects at the time made that idea a little far-fetched.  So we’d wait, just a little longer, for his counts to approach 10 million, maybe get a shot at IUI.  That didn’t work out so well, either.

And now, here we are, the same place we could have been seven months ago.  Still no closer to Hubby having a job, but plowing ahead anyway.  It’s about the scariest thing I can imagine.  Whether it works or it doesn’t, I’m terrified.

28 thoughts on “So much for “Super Sperm”

  1. I’m sorry, Daryl. It DOES sound scary, but that doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t work. You are going with the option that will give you the best odds and that’s really all you can do at this point. I’m hopeful, even though you are struggling to be! Just remember…one day, one step, at a time. All my fingers are crossed for you!

    • Thanks, Cassie. I guess it’s just hard to hear–again!–that my husband’s sperm is crap. Even though we knew from the beginning this is how things would likely go. (Despite what overly-optimistic doctors tried to tell us.)

  2. I hear you. IVF is scary and there’s no guarantee. I’m hoping for you. Hoping that with ICSI and PGD that this time next year you are holding your baby.

  3. The nice thing about IVF (ha, hard to start a sentence with that without sounding sarcastic, but no really) is that you don’t have to have a LOT of sperm. If you have 10 eggs, you only need 10 sperm. And, your embryologist will be able to find 10, even with a lower count and higher fragmentation. Plus, those numbers are from ONE sample. Things vary, so the other samples could be amazing.

    It does suck to stay in limbo, and I hope that things finally move forward for you all soon.

    • Even when he only had 19 sperm total, I was ready to move forward, knowing that would probably be enough. I’m certainly glad we have more to choose from now! I’m definitely glad to be getting out of limbo.

  4. I’m rooting for you. It’s a scary place to be, not knowing the outcome and if it will ever work. You can only do your best and with treatment, unfortunately most of it is out of your hands. But with ICSI and PGS you will be able to sort out the good ones that will give you the best chance for success. And hopefully this will be the golden ticket. Hang in there, you can do this!

  5. I am so with you in this awful, tentative place. We have some pretty shitty factors working against us in our IVF cycle, too. We are doing IVF with ICSI and PGD, and our genetic counselor says she expects 73 percent of our embies to be abnormal. So I totally understand the fear of walking away with nothing. Hugs!! You’re not alone!!

    • Wow, that’s a hard number to take in. But that’s one of my biggest fears–that we’ll go through all of this and spend all this money, all for nothing. All I can do it hope for the best–for both of us!

  6. You are on this path, moving forward now, and that is a terrific thing. It is so scary to not know if it will all be worth it – the money, the shots, the emotional investment in hope. Terrifying. But there’s only one way to find out the outcome, and no sense in looking back now. I hate to sound so cliche, but hang in there!

  7. The waiting can be brutal, especially when you feel like it’s all for naught. I have a lot of hope for you guys moving forward, but it is always frustrating and disappointing when doctors create a set of expectations and then reality just doesn’t match up.

    • Yes! You’d think they would know better. I mean, it’s one thing to be optimistic–something else entirely to create false hope. But at least we’re moving on to something that gives us the best shot possible.

  8. Yes, there’s a long way to go, but look at how far you’ve come. Even if you’d like to be further along than you are today, you’re still moving forward. I know there’s still uncertainty, and there’s so much on the line, but you have a great team in place to give you the best shot possible. And you also have a huge team behind you rooting for you all the way.

    PS: I don’t envy your hubby his task(s) around the time of retrieval. Yikes!

    • Thanks, Elizabeth. I appreciate the support. From all of you. And one of the reasons I’m glad we’re doing this now–before Hubby gets a job and moves us somewhere new (hopefully soon!)–is that our doctor is so skilled and has such great stats. I hope we land on the good side of them.

  9. Rooting for you guys hugely this round, and hoping for great things (as everyone says, it only takes one!). You know I’m always here if you want to talk about any of the rest of it too.

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