Again, we know the audio quality on this episode is less than our usual. It should be back to easy listening next week. Thanks for your patience.
We have a MAN on the show! Our first man on the FFF podcast is Sophia’s husband, Louie. In this episode he shares the hilarious and honest details of sperm collection! NOTE: The audio on this isn’t the best, but we PROMISE you it’s worth it for how funny and informative this episode is!
Louie opens by sharing with us WHY he went to the sperm cryopreservation bank in the first place. Since he is active duty military and deploying to combat zones, our local San Diego cryobank does a great service to active duty families by discounting their cryopreservation services! Unfortunately, military members tend to be guinea pigs, and sometimes years and years down the line we find out that the meds/exposures/chemicals/etc actually harm fertility.
Military members are exposed to toxins, radiation, and dangerous situations that can damage your ability to reproduce. Sophia and Louie decided to take advantage of this wonderful program and store some of Louie’s goodness before he left on deployment. For them, it was like an extra layer of insurance making sure that there would be healthy sperm available set aside in the event that something catastrophic occured to Louie while in the line of duty.
First thing first was to run some tests on Louie to make sure his reproductive system was healthy. Cryobanks want current info on HIV/STI tests, as well as other things. Louie HATES blood draws, and he recommends doing he blood draw a few days in advance to reduce added stress on the day that you make your sample(s). For him, the stress of a blood draw really impacted his ability to climax and produce a sample. Of course he pushed through and made it happen in spite of the looming needle-poke, but it wasn’t easy!
Listeners, we CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH: test your semen early! Things happen, and it’s not always possible to make a quality sample on the first go! Sophia and Louie had a looming deployment date and didn’t discover the cryobank benefits until just before Louie had to leave. So, they were on a tight deadline that put added stress on Louie. If that is NOT your situation, go as early as possible in your TTC journey to ensure plenty of time to spread things out and get the best possible sample!
It’s important to note that before you go in to make your sample, you need to abstain from sex or anything that could result in ejaculation for 2-5 days before you go to the cryobank. You also need to avoid any hot baths/jacuzzis/sauna/etc. As well as trying to avoid stressful situations. Stress greatly impacts your semen quality and volume. This can put an extra pressure on men! When you’re TTC, it’s all about whether or not the man can orgasm. Women can get pregnant from sex whether or not they climax, but if the man doesn’t orgasm and ejaculate; no joy.
The clinic we went to was a fully functional urology office! Turns out this clinic is also the urologist for the local men’s penitentiary! Louie was busily focused on his paperwork while a parade of shackled convicts were streaming through the lobby. Sophia was VERY uncomfortable, but thankfully Louie never looked up from his paperwork and was totally oblivious.
The sample collection room was clean… but it made you feel dirty! There was a creepy recliner that was made of some kind of material that could be easily wiped. Also, a stale collection of pornographic magazines from the late 90’s. Important to keep in mind: the skin of the penis must be sterilized with wipes, and absolutely no lubricant, lotion, salvia, or vaginal secretions can be present. Though Sophia initially went into the sample room with Louie, this ended up not working out when Sophia had to run down to the truck and get Louie’s headphones.
Other recommendation: bring headphones! The walls are THIN in these cryobanks, and it’s hard to reach climax when you can hear doors opening and closing, clinicians talking, and other distractions. This is all mixed with the fact that you’re told again and again to “try and relax” because samples are greatly affected by stress. Miraculously, Louie was able to make a sample while Sophia was running down to get the headphones!
After the sample was produced, the clinician analyzed the quality and told Sophia and Louie about it in the most AWKWARD way possible! Lo and behold, Louie’s sperm were healthy and his semen quality was stellar! Praise the Lord!
Next, you have to decide what you want to do with the sample. For instance, samples that will be used for at home insemination or IUI are processed differently than samples destined for IVF. Because Sophia and Louie didn’t have time for extra samples, they decided to preserve the sample for IVF, since the sample was only enough for 1 IUI vs. 4 IVF cycles.
After ALL of this, Sophia and Louie found out they could have done a home collection! Facepalm. If you’re like them, and you prefer the comforts of your own home, do the dang sample at home! As long as you can get it to the clinic within an hour, your sample can be successfully collected at home and used.
Something important to note is the legal side of cryopreservation. If you are using the semen right away, or simply analyzing it to see if babies can be made from that sperm; it’s not an issue. If you’re freezing it for future use, a lot of other legal factors can arise. It could be worthwhile to sit down with your lawyer and go over the paperwork prior to the sample to sort out any issues that could arise down the line. Again, that’s only if you’re planning to freeze the sample for future use like Louie and Sophia.
In this episode especially, we take plenty of time to laugh and make silly comments about fertility, sperm, and masterbation. We do this because fertility struggles are HARD! We believe that laughter is medicine, so though we fully embrace the sorrow and anguish that can come along with struggling to conceive, we want to make the process more enjoyable by finding ways to laugh.