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TV Takes on Male Factor Infertility

TV and infertility.jpg

a blog by Michelle Ottey, PhD, Director of Operations, Fairfax Cryobank and Cryogenic Laboratories, Inc., January 10, 2010

I am a big fan of the show How I Met Your Mother and watched the most recent episode on Monday night. Two characters on the show, Lilly and Marshall, were trying to get pregnant but weren’t having much success.

The couple found a fertility doctor (reproductive endocrinologist), and Lilly went through a series of fertility tests. All of her fertility tests came back clear, so Marshall then had to go in for male fertility work-up. His experience at the fertility doctor's office was pretty accurate (with the exception of one of his friends posing as a doctor for a few minutes.) Marshall was given the specimen cup and told where to go to “deposit his specimen.”

It was television, so it was exaggerated, and the show is a comedy, so it was depicted in a funny way. But I imagine that some of what Marshall experienced is what some of the men we work with experience. We do show the patients to the collection rooms (whereas he was just directed into the room with no specific instructions). He also walked in as another patient walked out, which was funny and awkward. We always have patients wait for a room to be free and cleaned before they proceed, which avoids those awkward moments where they could run into one another knowing what just happened in the room.

It did make me think more about things from the perspective of a patient and not just the sperm donors who donate at our facilities. We try to make the office comfortable, and we are open and take cues from our patients when doing the consultations. Some men need to joke and have a sense of humor about the whole process, and so we will talk with him using a comfortable and joking manner. Other men need the process to be discussed very clinically and seriously, and so the staff will talk facts and specifics.

Our sperm bank sites deal mostly with men banking their sperm when there is a medical issue, men banking for in virtro fertilization IVF back-up because they are traveling while their partner cycles, military patients banking before being deployed or men in high risk jobs. We are aware of each patient’s situation and take care to deal with them sensitively.

TV has come a long way in depicting infertility and sperm banking.

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