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October 10, 2018

Checking out my sperm DNA was my first step to becoming a Dad!

Checking out my sperm DNA was my first step to becoming a Dad!

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Infertility problems can be physically and emotionally draining. In this case, a couple was able to conceive naturally after discovering sperm DNA testing.

We started talking about kids when we both hit 30. We had done the party scene, the late nights, followed by the sleepy duvet days. We had been happy. Then, one by one, our friends started talking about kids and then telling us that they were pregnant. We thought we had better fall in line and do the same. At first, having sex with another purpose was a joke, but after six months we began to wonder what was wrong with us. We felt fragile. We didn’t want to tell anyone. It was too private and too sore.

Jane took the lead and arranged for us to visit our doctor. I didn’t want to go but she pushed me along, saying: ‘It won’t be your problem. All you have to do to is fire sperm. It’s my body that does all the hard work so it’s bound to be my fault.’

At the doctors, Jane gave blood for a battery of tests, and I was given a tiny pot and told to go into the Gents and produce a sample.

A fortnight later, we got letters through the post to say that we were both fine. All tests were normal. Everything was OK, so the medical advice was to relax, take a holiday and we would soon be pregnant.

But if everything was OK, why was it not working?

Next, we went down the IVF route. We had to tell both sets of parents, as we needed to borrow money from them for the treatment. I didn’t realize that IVF was so expensive. The first cycles failed—although the clinic told us we had nice embryos—and we were devastated. We went home to ‘lick our wounds’ but we spent the next few months fighting. Secretly, we blamed each other for our infertility. We tried IVF twice more, at different clinics each time. Once, we got pregnant but had a miscarriage. The other time, we didn’t even get pregnant.

Then we found out about the SpermComet test during one of our long nights online searching and searching for answers to our heartbreak.

Although women have lots of brand-new tests, men are still only offered a basic semen analysis. It has hardly changed since 1930 and yet it’s all you can get from doctors, the NHS, and from some private fertility clinics. I know, because I hunted around them to try and get the SpermComet test. A semen analysis counts the number of sperm you have and if they can swim but it doesn’t check the stuff that matters—the sperm DNA. It’s the DNA that makes your kid look and act like you. It’s the quality of your sperm DNA that helps a couple get pregnant naturally, or with IVF. It is also connected with miscarriage. That was news to me!

We had a couple of questions about the test, so I phoned up and had a chat with the experts. It was as if having the test was the most obvious thing to do, in our situation. A few days later, a discreet package arrived in the post.

There were links to online information for men like me about how sperm were made, how they get hurt, and how a better lifestyle can protect them. There was also an online ‘library’ of all the deeper stuff, with the original research there at the touch of a button—but I left that section for the doctors.

We booked a test for the next week in London. I produced my sample in the privacy of my own home and then whizzed it to the lab within an hour. Two weeks later, our result came back in my inbox. I had sperm DNA damage but there were ways to improve it within three months.

At first, I was horrified, and then we were both delighted. We danced around the living room like mad things. We knew what the problem was and I had control over the solution. I felt like a man again.

I knew some of the causes of my sperm DNA damage. I was a bit overweight, we had dabbled in a few drugs, and I smoked about 10 a day. I was also having one too many beers during those days, to drown my sorrows. After three months of simple lifestyle changes, I had a second sperm DNA check. My sperm DNA damage was down by 15 percent. We were referred to doctors for us to talk with and one of them recommended we tried ICSI next time. We did, and now we have our son, Jacob. In fact, that was 2 years ago and Jane is pregnant again after another round of ICSI.

Examen is a diagnostics company founded by Professor Sheena Lewis. SpermCometR is the leading sperm DNA damage test, based on 25 years of university research and used by top fertility clinics and specialists. It is highly accurate at identifying fertile and infertile men. It can also accurately identify men unlikely to be successful with IVF. It is available in the UK without doctor’s referral. Find out more at examenlab.com