What do you do to keep your marriage close when your husband is infertile?
Every Monday I like to take a reader question and try to answer it. I know so many of you are dealing with infertility, and I thought this was a different slant on it that I really haven’t tackled before.
A woman writes:
My problem is that I can’t get pregnant. But we just found out that the infertility is not me, but him, because his sperm count is low. But what I’ve noticed now is that he does not want to have sex and I’ve tried! But he pushes me away and he has no kind words nor affection nor feelings for me and I am concerned about it.
I just want to start by saying that I’m so sorry! That’s a hard road to walk down, when you really want a baby and you can’t seem to have one together. And that brings on so many different feelings–grief for sure, but also potentially resentment on your part (even if you try hard not to), and guilt on his. How do you work through that?
So first, a few thoughts on male infertility and low sperm count.
Did you know that you can test your sperm count at home?
This is really cool! YO Home Sperm Test sent me some details about how they can help you figure out if you have low sperm count, right from your home. Then, if you do have problems, you can choose to follow up and see a doctor. And YO Home Sperm Test agreed to sponsor this post so I could tell you about them.
Basically, it works with your smart phone. The test kit allows you to test a sample and gives you a reading which is a combination of sperm count and motility. Here’s why that matters: It isn’t enough just to know how many sperm are in each mL of fluid; you also want to know how much those little guys are moving around (that’s motility). You can actually get pregnant even if you have a low sperm count if the sperm have high motility. So YO Home Sperm Test factors both in. And it’s been FDA approved and has results comparable to those in large fertility and IVF labs. See it here!
If you’ve been having trouble getting pregnant, then, it’s a great way to test if he’s the problem (which is far easier to tell and far less invasive than testing her). So you may as well start with him! Each kit comes with two test kits, to allow you to double check or test two different samples.
Here’s it in action (and I love the description: “No sperm will actually touch your phone!”):
Seriously, I think this is awesome. At least it would give you a place to start if you’re wondering if the problem is you or him. And it’s a lot less expensive than a doctor’s visit or workup!
What if he does have a low sperm count?
Okay, now let’s take this step by step, and we’ll start with the low sperm count and then move on to the relationship issues.
Sperm count and motility are not fixed in stone. They can vary over time. Now, if has a complete absence of sperm (azoospermia), that’s a different story. In that case conception is impossible. But most men simply have a low sperm count.
How to Boost Your Chances of Conception with a Low Sperm Count
If he has sperm, but just not very many, conception may still be possible.
First, know your fertile days (the days around ovulation), and time intercourse for those days, just as you normally would.
Hitting the right days will vastly increase the chances of conception, even with a low sperm count.
Second, don’t “store up” sperm
Many people think that if he has a low sperm count, the best thing to do is to almost stop having sex and store up the sperm until those fertile days, so that there’s more on those days. While there will be more fluid, research has shown that this doesn’t help conception. Frequent sex actually helps sperm motility (getting the sperm to move) which helps fertility more.
Third, try to minimize “free radical damage”
Basically, you want to keep your body as healthy as possible and stop as many toxins as possible. So no cigarettes, and limit alcohol. Eat foods high in antioxidants, like berries, fruit, nuts, etc. Reduce exposure to chemicals (like in gardening or some factory work or lab work). Wear protecting clothing and masks when possible.
And avoid hot tubs and saunas and things which cause a lot of heat “in that region”. I know they used to warn against having laptops on your lap and told guys to wear boxers rather than briefs to prevent too much “heat”. I think a lot of that may have been debunked (though the hot tub and sauna thing has been proven to be true), but there’s no harm in trying.
Remember You’re a Team
Here’s the thing with fertility problems, though: It takes two to make a baby. You’re a team. And so if he has a problem, then the problem is not his. The problem is yours together, because you ARE a team.
I can’t stress this enough. You simply must deal with any resentment or anger that you have towards him and let it go. Let yourself feel it for a time, but then pray about it and decide that you’re going to treat this as an issue you have together, not as an issue with him. And I think that’s important for the future, too. I’m not one who is in support of using someone else’s sperm to get pregnant. If he’s not fertile, then YOU BOTH are not fertile, and it’s time to adopt or choose a different course for your life.
I say that knowing that it is one of the hardest things you will ever do, and understanding the heartache involved. But I don’t think using someone else’s sperm is the answer here, even if it would give you your own biological child. I’m very, very uncomfortable with that.
So if you are a team, then make sure you’re acting like one! If he has to ditch the cigarettes, so do you. If he has to cut out alcohol, so do you. If he has to change his diet, so do you. Be in on this together!
Work on Your Friendship
Finally, whenever couples have an issue in their marriage that starts to drive a major wedge, I always recommend the same thing: start working on your friendship again. When you first started dating there were things that you enjoyed doing together. You got together because you enjoyed being with each other. You like similar things!
So get back to that and remember what it was that you had fun with. Do more of it. Here’s why:
When we have fun together, we bring the tension level of the relationship down. When we laugh together, we make it easier to talk together. If the tension level is sky high and there are things that we’re avoiding saying to each other, then you’ll start to naturally pull away from each other (as this guy seems to be doing by not wanting to have sex). But when the tension level is really high, you can’t talk about it. How do you broach the subject when you’re both so uncomfortable and there’s so much that seems unsaid?
That’s why it’s important to shelve it for a minute and just work at bringing the tension level down. Tell him that for a month you want to forget about being pregnant and you just want to be husband and wife, best friends, again. I’ve got a FREE 5 lesson email course on how to emotionally reconnect, and it may really help you. It starts with small things you can do, and then builds to finding big things to do together that help you feel more connected. Sign up here.
Address his low sex drive
So much of a guy feeling like a guy is feeling like his sperm are powerful. I know that sounds really odd, but to a guy it’s a big deal. If you find out that your little guys don’t really move, or that you’re not really producing very many, that’s a huge blow to your ego.
And so it’s hardly surprising that a guy may lose his sex drive. His whole concept of manhood is gone.
Just a few things: don’t baby him. Sometimes our natural response is to try to comfort him: “Oh, sweetie, I love you just for who you are! It’s okay with me!” But check yourself. If you would use the same tone of voice or the same approach for a 5-year-old boy, then stop. It’s much better to just approach him as if you have confidence in him, not as if he needs your reassurance.
Give him some space for a time sexually if he needs it, which may be difficult because you’ll be thinking, “if his sperm count is low we need to have sex even more to increase the chances!” But give him a few months to figure out his feelings, while also working on your friendship and trying to have fun outside the bedroom.
Then start really talking about it again. Tell him that regardless of what happens with a baby, you guys are husband and wife first, and even if you lose the chance to be parents (which is not guaranteed at all), there’s no way you want to lose the chance to be husband and wife. You can still have an awesome time even if you aren’t parents. So let’s reclaim what we do have rather than defining ourselves by what we don’t.
Remember–most cases of low sperm count do not mean that it is impossible to conceive.
It will be more difficult. You will have to time things better. You will have to take super good care of his body. But it often can happen, especially with the help of a fertility clinic. So take heart, pray tons, and keep loving him.
Now let me know in the comments: Have you dealt with this in your marriage? How did you keep your sex life alive? How did you reassure him? Let’s talk!
And thanks to YO Home Sperm Test for sponsoring this post.