The Swim Meet


When La and I had our Big Gay Love Extravaganza Event (GLEE) in April 2012, we knew that we wanted our best friends there playing some significant roles, and we knew that we wanted our best friends in costume. Because that is how we roll. BFF and my best buddy served as our “Men of Honor” and were tasked with determining their outfits, with some guidance about style (20’s and 30’s vintage theater.)

BFF initially decided he wanted to wear an old fashioned bathing suit (ie: the jumpsuit shorty kind, often seen with stripes) and a boater hat. I was very excited for this possible costume, since it was both a perfect fit with the theme AND hilarious! Unfortunately, because of cost prohibitations and the inability to rent said suit, BFF went with a different, but still highly fashionable, choice.

I mention this because I think it is oddly appropriate.

This morning, the Texas Ranger called with the results of BFF’s semen analysis. The results? Aside from what appeared to be an ‘incomplete sample’ (although it wasn’t specified if that was because of a screw up or something else) – normal count and normal motility (ie: the quantity of sperm and their ability to swim forward at a normal speed) but a poor morphology.

Morphology is, for those of you not in the know, the shape of the sperm. Here are some possible shapes of human spermatozoa:

ImageThere seems to be a lot of disagreement about what constitutes a “normal” number or quantity of “normal” shaped sperm, varying from 14% to just 4%. BFF’s semen has just 2% of the sperms that are normally shaped.

So . . .if we were to compare sperms to swim teams (because, obviously): Joe’s team is well stocked with swimmer’s that can totally get from one end of the pool to the other, they are just mostly wearing crazy swimsuits and outlandish hats.

The suck of it is that swimmer’s with wonky bathing costumes on can’t get the job done when it comes to fertilizing the egg. They are just not well equipped.

So. What now?

We don’t know.

It continues to be very important to us to use BFF as our donor, as long as that is reasonable and possible. Its not about the sperm being free or easy to access (it never was, although that definitely helped.) Its about our relationship with BFF, and even more so, La’s relationship with him. In the current scenario, having BFF donate feels like the closest thing to having La contribute the genetic material for our kid. It doesn’t make sense in a rational way, but our hearts both know it to be true.

So, on the one hand, we want to explore avenues for making this happen with BFF’s sperm. Because our hearts want that deeply. On the other, there is the reality that the poorer the quality of the sperm, the less likely we are to get pregnant no matter the method. And the longer it takes, the more money we spend and the more heartache we incur.

On the upside, poor morphology with good counts and good motility is the best of the bad situations. From what I’ve been able to read, there is a reasonable chance of success using IUI with this method.

But questions remain . . . .

  • We had initially planned to wait on some of the diagnostic testing for me until after a few IUI attempts. Do we bump that up to make sure we aren’t playing with an even bigger handicap than we think?
  • How many IUI’s do we do with BFF’s sperm before we decided to use an anonymous donor from a bank?
  • Do we investigate using other fertility measures (like drugs) even though it appears that I am ovulating normally?

I realize no one can tell us what to do, but I would appreciate your input, darlings. I realize that many of you didn’t have to think about these things – you got your sperm in vials with counts, motility and morphology all guaranteed to be super-awesome. But maybe you can imagine? For those of you who are using or have used a known donor, or have a male partner – what do you think?

As if to add insult to injury, today I got a spot of pink when I wiped. I realize it may not count me out just yet, but it certainly feels like some salt in the wound. I’m 12 DPO today and have had similar spotting right around this time the last few cycles. My insistence on not tracking symptoms too closely means I don’t have a lot else to cling to, hope wise. I’d been planning to wait to take a test but will probably go ahead and pee on one tonight or tomorrow morning. It would be a lovely surprise, wouldn’t it?

We might be underwater, but I’m not holding my breath.


6 thoughts on “The Swim Meet

  1. I would like to note the pink spotting could go either way. I have my fingers crossed for you that it was implantation. On the month I got pregnant, I had the chemical melt down because it was our third (possibly last try with me) because I had spotted again, right in line when I had spotted previous months to lead to a BFN. However it was the month that turned to our BFP. Good luck.

    I would say to maybe continue doing home insems while you do some additional tests to make sure you are running well. Once you have all the information about the both of you then you can make the best decision. Until then it will more than likely be a lot of “What if’s”.

  2. I’m sorry to hear about your less favorable (but not terrible) results. I would recommend having further diagnostic testing on you just so you know exactly what you’re working with in this process. My bestie’s husband had bad morphology and she did a cycle of super ovulation with injectables and an IUI for her BFP. Don’t give up hope!

  3. I’m crossing my fingers that the pink was nothing but implantation. I don’t have advice one way or another with motility but I would say that if you’re using health insurance at all, sometimes they won’t cover diagnostic tests (for you) after a certain point in the fertility treatment process. Health insurance…fun times for everyone.

  4. Ugh, boo to wonky sperm.

    I don’t know enough about morphology (or sperm in general) to have any useful advice. 2% sounds shitty, but 2% of several million is still an impressive number– did the doctor give you any idea about what the success rate with your current method would be?

    As for how many IUIs to do before trying something else, I don’t think there is a “right” answer– you just have to take it one go at a time and trust how you feel.

    Go team!

  5. Sad to hear about all your disappointments right now. We used a known donor and we lucked out, unfortunately, I can’t give you any advise though, we did the donor thing through intercourse and if it hadn’t worked the first cycle, we likely wouldn’t have tried again. Hoping you get a positive despite the bleeding though! I have my appendages crossed for you!

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