Fast forward 11 years. We’d been married a year; during which time we’ve moved house and done all the things that most newly married couples do, with perhaps one exception; you guessed it, no children.
Despite my HH, our first visit to our GP went along the lines of “come back and see us in 6 months if you’re still not pregnant”. So, 6 months later and after several musings of “are you absolutely sure you’ve been trying hard enough?”, we eventually had our referral to see a specialist at the centre for reproductive medicine.
I recall our first visit very clearly; being sat in the waiting room feeling very embarrassed and conscious that people knew why we were there. I much later came to realise that the waiting room was full of equally embarrassed people all with the same same problem and a common goal. Our first consultation must have been a good 9 months after seeing our GP and I remember feeling quite frustrated and annoyed that I needed to be referred to an endocrinologist, who had another waiting list of probably 6 to 12 months. Having moved to the area after my HH diagnosis, they naturally had none of my original case notes when I was eventually seen by the endocrinologist.
A few years passed slowly by with several pointless (and I mean very pointless) hospital appointments, each of which seemed to consist of nothing more than “Hello sir, nice to see you. Sorry, but we still don’t have your notes from your previous hospital, but please make an appointment again in 3 months when hopefully we’ll have them by then”. After what seemed like an eternity, they finally got copies of my notes and decided to test my seminal fluid to find out exactly what they were, or as it later turned out, were not working with.
It’s at this point that I became familiarised with the “male specimen room”; the only room outside of the home (but yet also not in a house of ill repute) where men are routinely invited to “rub one out” into a little pot. It’s not even a conspicuously hidden room behind a discrete door; so everyone in the general waiting room knows exactly what you’ve just done and in case that alone wasn’t bad enough, even more embarrassingly, they know how long it took you. Having done my business, tentatively knocked on the small hatch and somewhat awkwardly handed over my pot of semen to the andrologist, I ventured out into the general waiting room and rather briskly made for the exit without making eye contact with anyone.
The first of many anxious waits ensued and I was left wondering just how many olympic champion swimmers I’d left behind. I was also curious just how they went about counting all 39 million sperm in the average ejaculate. Imagine losing count and having to start again!! My test results were back and they weren’t good, in fact they were worse than not good. They had found the grand total of zero sperm. Not even the odd long-since dead swimmer in my barren, lifeless wasteland.
Ok, so no swimmers equals a fairly reduced chance of having a child. Well, following a slightly embarrassing ultrasound scan, it was revealed at least I had what several of my kind friends had on many occasions doubted the existance of, balls…
Eventually, nearly 4 years after we’d started trying, several pointless (not to mention expensive to park) trips to the hospital and a number of embarrassing tests, we were thrown what can only be described as a fertility lifeline. I was informed that I was a suitable for a hormone treatment that might, IF it worked, temporarily reverse my infertility. There was only 1 problem. It would involve needles. Lots of needles.