Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Getting to the Bottom of it Part 2: The Semen Analysis and Progesterone Test (June 2009)

So riding high on the fabulous results of the HSG, my hubby headed to a lab for a semen analysis (well, actually he headed over the day before, but this is my story, dangit!). He had to go to a lab and produce a sample while in an impersonal little room, so I felt pretty sorry for him. That seemed like it would be really degrading. He took it well. Then we began to wait for the results. After a few days, my OB/GYN's nurse gave us a call. Actually, we tried to reach her several times first - it took nearly a week to get the results when we were told to expect three days. In any case, she ended up reaching me and providing me with the results. The analysis checked for several components:

1. Sample volume - this was normal. Good news, yay!
2. Sperm count - this was low. A low end of normal count is 20 million of the little guys, with 40 million being preferable. We had 9 million. Hmmm, that's not great news.
3. Forward Progression - also quite low. They like to see greater than 50%, and we had 11%. Ugggh, that sounds really bad.
4. Activity - also low. Should be 2+, and we had 1+ (I have no idea what this measurement is, just that it's outside of the norm). Meh.

The conclusion: Any man can have one poor test. Go back and try again in a couple of weeks. Mmmmkay. I'm sure it was just a fluke - the next one will be better!

Fast forward a few weeks. Hubby goes in for analysis #2: the retest. I also go in for my blood draw to check my progesterone levels on day 21 of my cycle. A few days later, I get a call from the nurse again. I headed over to a conference room for privacy. First, the progesterone level results. They like to see levels of 10 or higher, and I was at an 8.8. Based on the information that I had provided earlier about the LH Surges and specifics about my period, she was 99% confident that I was ovulating. They figured the test may have just been off by a couple of days, as I usually have my LH Surge later than would be expected (usually around cycle day 16 or 17). Just to be safe, she gave me a prescription for Clomid, a drug to encourage ovulation, oftentimes of more than one follicle. More information on follicles and ovulation later. The important part at this point is that I was almost certainly ovulating, but it wouldn't hurt to give me a boost with some hormones.

Now on to the semen analysis retest results:

1. Volume normal again.
2. Sperm count was 2.7 million.
3. Forward progression was 7%.

Wow. That was a really a blow. Not only were the results not better, but they were significantly worse. This means we officially get dubbed as "Male Factor Infertility". I began to pummel her with questions. What does that mean? What are our chances now? What can we do? What happens next? She had no answers for me. She said that we needed to go see another doctor - a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE), and that she couldn't provide me with any other information at this time, except that my OB/GYN suggested a procedure called IUI, whatever that was.

I felt so confused. I was tired of waiting, tired of mystery and of cryptic information. I wanted some answers, and I didn't want to wait any more. I just felt like we kept getting shuffled around. It started to hit me that this wasn't just a silly exercise that we were being put through when everything was just fine. This was really happening. We actually have a cause, a reason that we haven't gotten pregnant yet. And we have no idea how to get around it, or if we even can.


G. Silva said...

I found this webpage all about IUI: http://www.fertilityplus.org/faq/iui.html

It says IUI is "relatively painless," which is good to hear! I've heard that egg harvesting can be an ordeal, so if you can make this kinder, gentler treatment work, that'll be a big plus.

I'm pulling for ya.

pixnlil said...

Thanks G. Silva! I will have to check that site out when I get home tonight. I like how it says "relatively painless". Why is it that my experiences never match the general description? I'm planning to post about the actual IUI tonight. It's another interesting story. Stay tuned . . .

G. Silva said...

Oh well, the FAQ writers were a bit too optimistic about the painlessness part... sadly, I'm not terribly surprised. :-/