Arklow couple hope to remove taboo surrounding infertility
PAUL AND KRISTEL BRADLEY SHARED THEIR STORY ON TV3’S ‘THE BABYMAKERS’
AN ARKLOW couple who found it difficult to conceive were one of six couples featured on TV3’s documentary The Babymakers.
Paul and Kristel Bradley were featured as a ‘good news story’ because, after years of trying to conceive and months of IVF treatment, they conceived their baby girl Zoe naturally.
‘Because the issue of us not being able to conceive was down to me, we wanted to speak about the issue as it’s something that’s not talked about. There’s a taboo around it especially as men don’t talk about it,’ Paul told the Wicklow People.
Their story started four years ago when they were trying to have a baby.
‘During the first year we didn’t look for any assistance and by the second year we started to think maybe there’s a problem,’ Paul explained.
‘By the third year we went to our GP and all the analysis on me came back fine. So then we went to a fertility clinic and they started Kristel on assisted reproduction hormone injections to grow the eggs. We did seven or eight months of that and it didn’t work.’
It was then the couple decided on getting a second opinion and started to engage with SIMS clinic – Ireland’s most advanced fertility clinic.
‘They told us there was only a 2% chance of conceiving because the more hormone drugs, etc, you go on, the less of a chance there is to conceive,’ he said.
For the first two months Kristel’s periods were regulated and then they started on IVF, which involved Kristle taking four to five injections a day, at specific times. Two of the injections had to be refrigerated at all times.
‘They collected 11 eggs and nine were fertilised with my sperm sample. Then it went down to five fertilised eggs but then none of them were viable,’ he said, adding the couple at this stage were extremely disappointed.
However, the couple praised the nurses and counsellors at SIMS clinic for the help and support they gave them.
‘We took two weeks out and then I did a DNA Fragmentation test on my sperm. When the egg tries to fertilise with the sperm and if the DNA is damaged, the egg then tries to fix the DNA rather than fertilise,’ Paul explained.
Very often couples will experience fertility issues despite having a normal semen analysis. Many women believe that the problem lies with the woman when a pregnancy does not occur or is lost, when it is possible their partner may be experiencing infertility due to high levels of DNA Fragmentation in their sperm.
‘The standard reading should be 15% but my sperm had a reading of 49% DNA Fragmentation, which was one of the highest readings they had seen,’ said Paul.
Over the next three months, Paul made huge changes to his lifestyle and diet, including cutting out caffeine and alcohol, amongst other things, and then re-took the test. This time, in January 2016, his reading was 19%.
‘I was delighted the reading dropped down so much, we were both really happy with that and the clinic started to get us ready for the next round of IVF.’
He said Kristel started to feel sick over a number of days prior to starting the next round of IVF.
‘We said just to be safe we’d do a pregnancy test and it turned out positive,’ said Paul, adding the pregnancy was described as a spontaneous pregnancy midcycle.
‘We were so surprised but absolutely delighted and a year ago this month Zoe was born.’
‘She’s a happy smiley baby,’ said Paul.
‘People need to talk more about infertility and get rid of the taboo around it, which is why we spoke about our journey and the help SIMS Clinic gave to us to start our family.’
Kristel, Paul and baby Zoe Bradley.