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It's a Boy! Will Our Son Be Infertile,Too?


a blog by murgdan, March 3, 2010

It’s a boy. The miracle we waited for, saved for, worked for, and wished for is a boy. Despite the fact that there are only two sexes to choose from, it still felt like a total and complete surprise to hear the ultrasound technician who performed our anatomy scan make the announcement. We are no longer pregnant with “it.” We can use proper pronouns.

After the initial revelation, after the tears of joy, after the “wows” and smiles, I had another thought. I had a thought that I am quite sure few mothers who have not experienced the ravages of infertility have. I had a thought that brought back memories of my husband’s urology appointments and our IVF consults.

Will our son be infertile, too?

After our initial diagnosis of male factor infertility, we were referred to a urologist who specialized in infertility problems. Our particular urologist may have completed a rotation in infertility treatment, but he most certainly seemed to have no special interest in the area. With one look at my husband’s semen analysis results he informed us that we would need IVF with ICSI if we had any hope of conceiving. And even if we were to succeed, we needed to be aware that as the cause of my husband’s infertility may be genetic and any male children we were to bear may have infertility as well.

This urologist went on to tell us that reproducing male offspring with infertility could one day have dramatic repercussions on the world’s population, or something of that nature. He implied that we were somehow playing with fire and that any act of assisted reproduction could cause the earth to spin off its axis and burst into flames. He suggested adoption. Yeah, we will not be returning to see this bright star of hope.

[Read: Study Says Test-Tube Boys May Inherit Fertility Problems]

Luckily our reproductive endocrinologist wasn’t quite so judgmental regarding our decision to pursue IVF/ICSI in an attempt to conceive. My husband was tested for common genetic disorders that cause low sperm counts and his tests came back normal. As the cause of his infertility is unexplained, our RE did caution that, in fact, there could still be a genetic component that is simply still unknown. He warned us that there would be a small risk that any future sons could carry Daddy’s crappy sperm gene — if there were such a gene.

And while I’m not worried that we will cause the world’s population to dwindle away to zero, I have had the fleeting thought that our son may one day have to endure the same struggle we’ve experienced. Of course, by that time there will surely be advances in reproductive endocrinology, andrology, and embryology that we cannot even fathom. By that time, who knows . . ?

Will our son be infertile, too?

Comments (4)

If your son does end up with the same infertility issues, so what? What I mean is, its safe to assume that there will at the very least equally good (but most likely better) technology or genetic repair magic in the future, so what is the difference?

I mentioned it on your other blog too, I think it's a good shot that this dude is sitting pretty at home with a gaggle of children that popped out every time he looked at his wife. If he had problems with his junk too, I'm sure he'd have a different perspective on things.

I had similar thoughts, although my problem is different. I have an indicator (but no actual symptoms) of auto-immune disease. I inherited that from my father, who had rheumatoid arthritis. I don't know if I have passed my reproductive issues down to my daughter, or if I've even given her a lifelong, painful, degenerative disease. Or if a random gene mutation has deleted the problem altogether. I won't know for a long time. But, at least I will know that when she tells me that she wants to start trying to make a baby, I can tell her that she might want to have some testing done first, to see if she will need help. That way, she can possibly avoid some of the heartache that I've encountered.

I had the same freak-out moment, too, when I was trying to educate myself about ICSI. I read the same the-whole-world-will-be-infertile assertion in one particular book, and it just made my heart sink. And gave me deep reservations. But, if by some measure of grace we become parents, and if my some measure of biology our future offspring inherit MFI we will deal with it as a family, with love and unconditional support.

But if he is. Both him and your daughter-in-law will have a family who really gets it, who knows what to say, and what not to say, and how to act.

(And by then who will be doing anything as old fashioned as sex for reproduction anyway?)

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