Fertility Journey: The Everest of male infertility

Fertility Journey: The Everest of male infertility

Today, our daughter rolled over on her own in bed. Yesterday, she burst out laughing for the first time, drawing us into her infectious good humor.

Since she came into the world four months ago, every day has been an endless field of experimentation and progress for her.

For us, it's a daily joy. And it's all the more wonderful because this little marvel has been so long in coming.


The diagnosis of infertility

Our journey toward parenthood has been more like a crusade than a long, quiet river. Just over a year ago, our baby was a D+5 embryo, the object of all our hopes, which I was re-implanted at the Foch Hospital as part of an IVF ICSI protocol. This wasn't exactly how my boyfriend and I had planned to conceive our first child...

Freshly married with plans to start a family, we had never envisaged being one of those so-called infertile couples who resort to medicine to make what are commonly known as "test-tube babies" and follow a frozen embryo transfer protocol. After all, there was no reason for it: we were in good health, with no medical history, and we had a stream of good news around us, our friends displaying insolent ease of reproduction. And yet... Despite the perfect punctuality of my ovarian cycle, unprecedented commitment on the part of my partner, and total faith in the success of each of our attempts, we were forced to face up to the evidence of the invariably negative pregnancy tests: it wasn't working. As the months went by, our anxiety grew.

After about six unsuccessful cycles of trying, I decided not to wait any longer and went to see a fertility doctor, hoping for a little help. The doctor went through the whole thing again and gave me a battery of fertility tests. And once again: nothing to report. So my boyfriend decided to have a male fertility test. After a spermogram, the verdict was in : azoospermia! The Everest of male infertility. A sudden and terrifying diagnosis.


The fertility journey: the battle against infertility

There's good news and bad news: the good news is that we've found out why I still hadn't got pregnant; the bad news is that we've had to face up to the uncertainty of one day being able to start our family and, in the best-case scenario, mourn the loss of conceiving a child like everyone else. In fact, there was no cure for male infertility.

We had to go through the fertility process: IVF ICSI,

Having identified the enemy, we threw ourselves wholeheartedly into the project. We chose the Assisted Medical Reproduction Centre at the Foch Hospital in Suresnes for its brand new department, its gynaecologists who are unanimously recognised as fertility specialists, and its state-of-the-art laboratory.

 In the case of my husband's male infertility, azoospermia, the priority was to find sperm. I can see him coming back from his appointment with his andrologist, once again confident and positive, almost impatient to go into the operating theatre for a testicular biopsy. In the end, the exceptional work of the laboratory at the Hôpital Foch saved him this last-chance procedure. A few rare specimens were found and carefully preserved, allowing us to continue with the fertility process.

We then moved on to the most difficult stage: the hormonal stimulation phase, with its daily injections, early mornings, and multiple examinations at the fertility centre, requiring us to put our modesty aside and generate a fair amount of fatigue and stress. It was a difficult period, but in reality, it was surmountable. A certain routine had been established and we tried to follow the instructions of the medical team as calmly as possible, in whom we had every confidence.


The Wistim application has been our best ally in organising every stage of the fertility process.   Reassuring, it allows you to stay in daily contact with the assisted reproduction centre, which, after each blood test result, indicates the treatment doses to be taken the next day, either in a calendar or by message. Everything is written down clearly and can be accessed from your phone. There's no more risk of forgetting your treatment or taking the wrong dose, which is one less thing to worry about, and that's no mean feat in the complex IVF process. I imagine that everything is also simpler for the nurses, who used to have to spend precious time calling each patient to give them their treatment doses. For patients, it's also great to be able to receive treatment instructions and the dates of forthcoming appointments discreetly, especially when you're at work.

Once the ovaries had been filled with mature follicles, a puncture under general anaesthetic yielded viable oocytes which, after fertilisation in the laboratory, were transformed into embryos. The little siblings soon found themselves frozen while awaiting reimplantation. The hardest part was over, and what a relief that was! This success carried us through and gave us the energy to continue with the next stages of IVF.

The first frozen embryo transfer was also a success, albeit a short one. While miscarriages are unfortunately commonplace, they are probably even more difficult to digest when you've been through the fertility process. But we still had several frozen embryos, which meant we didn't have to go back to square one and were able to look ahead.

The second frozen embryo transfer worked so well that nine months later I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. What happiness at the end of this difficult fertility journey!

Today, what we remember most is the happy ending; that extraordinary moment, suspended in time, when our baby was placed on my chest and we discovered her face with wonder.

All the more so because we were lucky enough to go through what turned out to be a fairly rapid process: only 7 months elapsed between the diagnosis of male infertility and the transfer of the frozen embryo that became our daughter.

This adventure has also brought us closer together. Bound together by the desire to welcome a child, we have had the feeling of fighting as a team and winning the most important and beautiful battle of our lives. Every day, we smile together as we look at and kiss our daughter, still amazed at having the chance to hold such a treasure in our arms.

 We will also remember the professionalism, support, dedication, and kindness of the nurses, biologists, doctors, midwives, and administrative staff at the Foch Hospital assisted reproduction centre, all of whom supported us in this battle as if it were their own. Of course, we were on the front line at every stage of the treatment, but every member of the medical staff involved in our fertility journey, in their own way, took some of our anxieties with them so that we could concentrate on what was essential. We were supported by the fighting spirit of the whole team, who never saw failure as an option and kept us free from doubt.

 The experience was an unexpected and ultimately rewarding interlude in our history, and we are boundless in our gratitude and affection for the strangers who rallied around our project on our behalf, enabling us to laugh out loud with our little girl and watch her grow up.


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