July 13th, 2007
Posted By:

White Flowers (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Somehow, we managed to trudge through our second holiday season as an infertile couple. January brought a second try at becoming pregnant through an intrauterine insemination (IUI). Unfortunately, my husband’s sperm count was still much lower than we hoped. For a second time, we did the IUI despite a low sperm count, and for a second time, we did not conceive.

Dr. M referred my husband to a urologist (Dr. P) to determine what was causing his low sperm count. Dr. P performed a physical exam in his office but did not find anything amiss. Dr. P said that we needed to do an ultrasound of my husband’s reproductive organs, so we scheduled that procedure for the following week. That ultrasound revealed the problem: My husband had a varicocele that was “cooking” his sperm.

Dr. P explained that a varicocele is like a varicose vein in the testicles. It holds too much warm blood close to the sperm, which overheats the sperm and kills them off. My husband would need to have surgery to correct the problem.

I have mentioned before that my husband was not wild about going through fertility procedures in the first place. He was shy about anything having to do with his reproductive organs, and now he was going to have a knife go near his private parts. Need I say more about his reaction?

My husband begrudgingly agreed to have the procedure on one condition – that we schedule it on the Friday of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) basketball tournament. (What can I say? He is from North Carolina, so basketball is in his blood.)

While I was relieved and appreciative that he was willing to have the surgery, he made this decision in early February, which meant we would have to wait over a month for the surgery during “March Madness.” Then, he would need to recover and have three months of “sperm replenishment” time, which pushed our next IUI all the way out to June. This would mark two years of trying to conceive.

I was getting very frustrated with all of the “stopping and starting,” and I was starting to despair. What if I never had a baby?

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2 Responses to “Varicoceles”

  1. Bella Says:

    DH had a varicocele problem, too. We did not get the surgery because my RE did not like the typical outcome for varicocele repair. We opted instead for IVF w/ICSI and got good results. (I am due to deliver on Nov 7).

    If your DH has not undergone the surgery, maybe you can change course and go with IVF. IVF still has the best overall outcome of most of the fertility treatments, and you do not have to worry about multiple births like you do with IUI. Also, you can finally see your own egg quality, since extracting the egg is the only way to determine that.

  2. Faith Says:


    Thanks for your comment, and CONGRATULATIONS on your pregnancy!!

    DH did have the surgery several years ago, and it improved his overall count but not the morphology. Meanwhile, I still have my own fertility issues. We decided to adopt, and I am now the proud mother of a 6-year-old through adoption.

    Take care,

    - Faith

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