You start to question everything
FIRST there was shock, then, says David, 40, came the devastation, followed by anger and withdrawal after tests showed an absence of sperm in his ejaculate. “You expect to have children and when this is thrown into your lap it knocks you for six,” he recalls, adding he ‘shut down’ for a period. “When you find out you go into yourself; you start questioning everything — what good am I when I cannot produce children?” The thought of how he would have to tell his parents and parents-in-law was heartbreaking. “I got very angry about it; I was angry at the world.” He gave a second sperm sample. This time there were “traces” of sperm, and it was decided that he would undergo a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) which was developed for men with low sperm counts. It involves selecting the male partner’s best quality sperms and injecting one into each mature egg produced by the female partner. For David, however, the process was unsuccessful. Next he underwent a testicular biopsy — known as TESE. This too was unsuccessful. After that there was Micro TESE, microsurgical testicular sperm extraction, and following that, another round of ICSI. This was successful and, late last year, David and his wife had a son. “It was a gruelling process,” he says, adding that with his wife’s encouragement he had counselling. “Only for her strength, we would not be where we are today.” The process cost in the region of €22,000.