The “S” Word

Our wedding day, 8-8-08!

Let’s talk about the “S” word, and no, I am not talking about sex, I am talking about SPERM! We all know that it takes two to make a baby (duh!) Often, we focus so much on women’s health that we overlook a huge part in the equation – men’s health! I know it’s a pretty sensitive subject, but come on fellas! You do everything to ensure you are healthy physically and mentally with exercise, proper eating habits, prayer or meditation, so why not do whatever you can to ensure you have healthy sperm?!

In 2010, just two years after getting married, Tim and I knew something was wrong when we hadn’t gotten pregnant yet. After further testing and lots of doctors appointments, we found out that Tim’s sperm quality was one of the reasons we hadn’t conceived. Tim was young and relatively healthy, so this news came as a huge shock to the both of us! Also, being young and black we didn’t know anyone else who looked like us dealing with this issue; this left us feeling embarrassed and alone! After getting over the initial shock that we were dealing with male factor infertility (MFI), I began to do a ton of research. Since I am in no way a men’s reproductive expert, I found a really good article that gives tons of in-depth information about a semen analysis and you can read the article here! To sum things up, aside from having a healthy sperm count, sperm motility and morphology are also super important! The sperm’s motility is how many of the sperm are moving or “swimming” which of course is important to make sure the boys can get where they need to be in order to fertilize the egg! The sperm’s morphology refers to the size and shape of the sperm! That’s pretty much all in a nutshell! (hehe) Who knew that sperm was so complex?

Three years after getting married and faced with a male factor infertility diagnosis, Tim’s urologist suggested that he undergo a surgery to correct his varicocele in order to improve blood flow and hopefully increase sperm count! It was an outpatient procedure, but he did receive anesthesia during the surgery. He was able to return to work the next day, and was just told to take it easy for a few weeks during recovery. While we did experience a slight increase in Tim’s next semen analysis, I am not sure the surgery made a huge difference – but, results may vary!

IVF Transfer Day!

We tried two Intrauterine Insemination (IUI’s) after a few years of marriage and both of those treatments were unsuccessful – we were heartbroken. Although we knew the chances of our IUI’s being successful were very small, we still prayed for success! For those who don’t know what an IUI is, you can read more about it here. After our two unsuccessful IUI’s we took some time to travel and just enjoy each other, all while hoping we would get pregnant! After almost seven more years of trying naturally with no success, we were told that IVF was our only chance of having biological children. We felt defeated, angry, and confused all at the same time, but we continued to remain hopeful.

Tim preparing one of my IVF medications!

Our Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) told us about a procedure called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) which can help increase your chances of success! In an IVF cycle using the standard fertilization method, the sperm and eggs are placed in a dish together and you hope that they find their way to each other and make an embryo; however, with ICSI, the best sperm is chosen in the lab to fertilize each egg individually! This procedure is mostly used when there are issues with low sperm count or poor sperm quality. It’s like choosing the best sperm, one by one, and then using those to inject each egg! Cool right?! As we went on to begin our first IVF cycle, we ended up with two embryos! We were so excited, especially since we had genetic testing done on our embyros and learned that they were both boys!! Unfortunately, our transfer was unsuccessful and we lost our two babies.  We were in disbelief that we had to start all over again *tears!

The Beli Baby Package!

After doing more research, I learned that sperm production takes about 90 days! So as we began to prepare for our second IVF cycle, we changed our entire diet, drank smoothies, exercised, took daily supplements, and incorporated acupuncture. We made sure to give ourselves at least three months to make sure we let all of the changes take affect. We even recorded a YouTube video which detailed all of the changes we made! Those 90 days were tough because we were so strict with everything and wanted to do whatever was necessary to make sure our IVF cycle was successful! It’s so crazy that a woman is born with all of the eggs she will ever have in her lifetime, while a man gets new soldiers every couple months. No fair!

Tim and I were on a ten year journey to conceive and during that time, he has taken dozens of male fertility supplements, teas, herbs, powders…you name it, he has probably tried it! Most recently, he has been taking the Beli Baby male fertility vitamins and we are so impressed! Not only are they gluten, soy, and dairy-free, but they are made in the USA!! Tim loves that they give him more energy and that he only has to take two pills each day! There was a point during our journey where he was taking up to seven fertility vitamins a day in order to get all the nutrients he needed. Who has time to take seven pills a day?!

New pair of genes (hehe)

Sperm count is only a small part of the equation – the sperm quality must be healthy in order to conceive! Just a few years after we began trying to conceive (TTC) we discovered how important supplements are to helping increase the overall health of the sperm! Male fertility vitamins not only provide the daily nutrients a guy needs, but they also focus on reproductive health – so it’s pretty much a win-win! Visit belibaby.com to read up on the vitamins for yourself (or your guy) and see all the good stuff Beli Baby has to offer! Remember, I am just a chick on the internet who does lots of research and I am not a doctor! Always check with your medical professional before taking new supplements to make sure they are right for you!

Tim and our daughter, Victory!

Whether you’ve just received a male factor infertility diagnosis, you’ve been trying for years to overcome male factor infertility, or your dude hasn’t come to terms with getting things checked out yet, just know you are not alone! Did you know that 30% of infertility cases are related to male factor issues?! I am so grateful that we were able to overcome male factor infertility and have our sweet Victory via IVF ICSI! Technology is advancing every day and a male factor infertility diagnosis does not have to be the end of your journey to conceive! I am a firm believer that a healthy diet, exercise, vitamins, and prayer, mixed with a little bit of science can go a long way! Tim even recorded a video for my YouTube channel talking about MFI and Beli Baby, check it out!

Don’t lose hope! Remember, the struggle is part of the story!

What supplements are you taking?

To hear a full list of supplements that both my husband and I took while preparing for IVF watch my YouTube video!

xx Candace

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