A lot of us dream of becoming parents at some point in our lives and some will need help along the way to achieve that dream. Studies show that around 1 out of 6 couples experience fertility problems at some point. This can be caused by many different factors, but in approximately 1/3 of infertility cases, the reason is found in the man’s sperm motility or quality. Fortunately, there are a lot of possibilities today to help you fulfil your dream of having a baby. One of the possibilities is to use a sperm donor. This can be a good solution if you are a heterosexual couple experiencing fertility problems due to the man’s sperm quality.
What is infertility?
According to WHO, a couple is infertile when they have tried to get pregnant for a year without success. Infertility can be caused by a problem with the sperm quality and/or the woman’s reproductive system. Some of the most common factors for women are the absence of ovulation, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) or endometriosis. The most common factor for men is low sperm count, which means that there are not enough healthy sperm cells being produced to fertilize the egg. Even though only one sperm cell is needed to fertilize the egg, an ejaculate must contain several millions of sperm cells to ensure fertilization. It is important to know that infertility is not necessarily a diagnosis for life. Many people who experience it can have a child with some help.
There are a lot of misconceptions regarding infertility, if you want to read some of them follow the link to our blog post on the subject.
Why male infertility occurs
There are several reasons why a man can experience low sperm motility, abnormal sperm cells or a complete lack of sperm cells (azoospermia). A low sperm count or a complete lack of sperm cells can, for example, be caused by unhealthy lifestyle, a genetic condition, a hormonal disorder, cancer treatment or a blockage caused by a previous infection. Luckily, there are other options available. Follow the link to read about treatment options for men struggling with low sperm count. Abnormal sperm cells may be due to infection or abnormal testicles (americanpregnancy.org). In order to know the exact reason for the male fertility problem, the man should undergo a medical examination.
How to deal with infertility
Regardless of the reason, it can be very emotionally challenging and hard for a couple to handle fertility problems. Often, couples go through the 5 stages of grief, when experiencing infertility problems. Some people prefer not to talk to others about their fertility problems. However, this might cause you to feel lonely during the process. Even though it can be hard to let people in and talk openly about infertility, you should remember that with 1 out of 6 couples going through this at some point, it is more common than you might think.
In the TED talk below, you can hear Camille Preston talk about how she and her husband dealt with an uncontrollable challenge. She also shares how good friends became important in overcoming the struggle of dealing with male infertility. If you suffer from infertility, we can recommend this blog post on how to cope with infertility.
Secondary infertility – when you have a child but struggle to have more
Some people experience no signs of infertility when having their first child, but when they want to give this child a sibling, they suddenly struggle to do so. This is called secondary infertility and is actually just as common as experiencing infertility when trying to become parents the first time. The causes of primary and secondary infertility are often the same, and so are the treatment options. You can learn more about secondary infertility in this blog post.
Male infertility and treatment with donor sperm
If the reason for infertility is caused by a problem with the sperm quality, using a sperm donor can be a solution to create the family you wish for. There are also other options such as adoption or co-parenting. If you choose a fertility treatment with donor sperm, both of you, mother and father, will be able to have the parental rights of your child, and the child will be genetically related to the woman carrying the baby. The fact that the father and the child do not share the same genes should not impact your feelings. Just as in any other family structure, you will raise the child with love and care, and your child will be yours regardless of the child being conceived with a little help.
Read about how Johan feels about being a father to a sperm donor-conceived child here on our blog
Or read how Toyah and Ricardo became parents to three children thanks to a sperm donor here
Using donor sperm – What to consider
If you have decided to use donor sperm to treat male infertility, there are some things to consider, when choosing the right donor for your family. At Cryos you can choose between sperm donor profiles with a Basic or an Extended Donor Profile and donors with or without the possibility of future contact (ID Release or Non-ID Release Sperm Donor). To make the decision, you can try asking yourself if you want an influence on voice, physical appearance, and emotional competencies, or do you prefer to leave it up to fate? And do you want your child to be able to contact the donor when he or she turns 18, or do you want to exclude that option?
In some countries, it is determined by law whether to use one or the other option and you must check this with your own country’s legislation. You can get a full guide about what to consider when choosing a sperm donor here.
Personal messages from couples with donor-conceived children
At Cryos we are grateful to be able to help bring babies into the world. Below you can read a few of the heart-warming messages, we have received from couples who have had help to overcome male infertility by using donor sperm. You can also read more messages from happy parents here.
My husband and I have waited so long to be able to have a baby and thanks to Cryos, we were able to! Despite all the side effects, being pregnant was an incredible experience and I am so thankful. Our little Louis is now 4 1/2 months old, and I still can't believe it. I love my life! Thank you to all the donors who make this possible.BenedicteUK
Words cannot describe the pride, joy and love we feel since our baby boy came into our live in August 2016. The unconditional love we feel holding this tiny, dependent person who already has his own character, is so much greater than life itself! We will always be thankful to our donor. Not knowing us, but to be so unselfish to make sure we (and others) are able to welcome the greatest gift of life. Making sure to thoroughly describe himself and his relatives so we know just a bit, being able to be honest to our new born when he starts asking questions in a few years’ time. And last but not least the great guidance from Cryos to make it all possible! Thank you to you all.AnnaThe Netherlands
We got a beautiful son thanks to Cryos and the donor who made it possible for us to have a family to love. Thanks to all!Anonymousx
Connect with others who experience fertility problems
When experiencing childlessness, it can be comforting to share thoughts and experiences with people in the same situation as you. Therefore, we encourage you to join our Facebook group join our Facebook group 'Family Dreams', where you can talk to others about fertility treatment, donor sperm, and all related topics on the journey towards parenthood. The Facebook group is a nice and friendly place to connect with like-minded people.
All About Fertility is a non-commercial online platform supported by Cryos. Here you can find articles, webinars and videos created by experts within fertility, like doctors and scientists. The content covers both male and female infertility issues.
Frequently asked questions about couples experiencing infertility
What are the most common causes of male infertility?
There can be a lot of different causes for infertility in men, but in 1/3 of the cases, the reason is found in the man’s sperm motility and quality. Male infertility is often caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, and if this is the case, low sperm motility can often be reversed through a more balanced and healthy diet. For some, the problem is genetic and therefore impossible to fix through a change in lifestyle. In these cases, donor sperm is a great option for overcoming infertility and becoming parents.
Can you fix male infertility?
If the male infertility problem is a low sperm motility and is caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, you have a chance to improve your sperm count through a more healthy and balanced diet. If the problem is caused by genetics, it is often hard to fix, and the journey towards a child will in many cases go through a sperm donor.
Is male infertility common?
Infertility is a common problem for heterosexual couples, and during the last decade, more and more couples need fertility treatment to conceive. In around 33% of the cases, the problem is with the man’s sperm, which means that male infertility is more common than previously.