HIMfertility – ‘the most important discovery in our journey’
Dan, 36, on how HIMfertility has helped enormously on his journey via a sperm donor to fatherhood.
It was in May 2020 that I attended my first HimFertility meeting. I was feeling overwhelmed, lost, alone and unsure of how to react to the news that I had two nil sperm tests, a meaningless doctor’s appointment and a urologist scan that showed no physical issues.
What next? I had absolutely no idea. I knew I had a potentially fundamental problem and no way to determine what that problem was or how to deal with it.
Liberating, emotional, reassuring & informative
My wife and I discovered HimFertility via Fertility Network and I now realise it is the most important discovery in our journey. Listening and sharing my experience with a group of men, who all have different fertility journeys, was liberating, emotional, reassuring and most of all informative. Learning from each other, we have been able to fill in the gaps and have then gone on to have various treatments, consultations, and procedures we never thought existed.
In my case, my journey changed after we had a guest speaker in one of our meetings, Mr Jonathon Ramsay, who is a fantastic andrologist (a specialist in the male reproductive system – I know, I did not realise they existed either!) I contacted him after the meeting and discussed my case, and he recommended a ‘Microtese’ procedure. This meant that he would take a sample from 36 ‘sites’ in my testicles to look for sperm production using micro needles (not as scary as this might sound).
The results showed that I have a condition called Sertoli Cell-only syndrome. My testicles create the cells that nurture sperm to maturity, but no sperm cells to mature. It was a strange, emotional time as whilst the news was devastating, I was also now able to process the situation, understand why I am an infertile man and my wife and I could start a treatment plan. With the support of the group, I was able to share this news, discuss and listen to the others who had used sperm donors.
My wife and I decided to try an IUI (intra-uterine insemination) procedure with a sperm donor. This was not something I was looking forward to – picking the donor sperm. I had heard at some of the HimFertility meetings of the difficulties in doing this as it is a very emotional task.
Looking for a sperm donor
When looking for a donor, you have to think of yourself and your characteristics – this was incredibly challenging for me and the questions it raises in your mind about how I would feel about the child, will it look like me or the donor, how will our families react etc.
Finding a match was incredibly difficult, particularly from UK-based sperm banks. We researched countless banks and profiles. We persevered and ended up selecting a US-based sperm bank which had a close match in terms of appearance and character. We now had a chance to proceed with the IUI, and hopefully, start a family.
HIMfertility support essential
With the support of the group, I was able to hear about and discuss these thoughts and it gave me a lot of reassurance that despite no biological link, it is about being the best father you can be to your child. One member of the group had expressed similar worries to those I had had, and then after successful treatment, described how he never thinks about the ‘donor’ aspect. He only sees his child and he loves them unconditionally, as if he was the biological father.
It is safe to say that, without the support, friendships, understanding and information of the HIMFertility group, my wife and I would not now be expecting our first child. We had a successful second attempt at IUI and we cannot wait for our journey to continue. I owe a lot of gratitude to the HIMFertility support group, to whom I say – thank you.
If you’re a man affected by a fertility issue, either your own or your partner’s, why not join HIMfertility, our male-only online fertility support group.