My wife and I began trying to conceive our first child in the winter of 2010. The first six months seemed to pass pretty quickly with no success. By August of that year, we were beginning to become frustrated and decided to speak with my wife’s gynecologist so we could get some guidance on the difficulty we were having. After some blood tests, her gynecologist recommended seeking fertility treatment so my wife’s cycle could be more closely monitored and I could have a semen analysis done. While we had been told that it is best to try conceiving for at least one year before seeking fertility treatments, something just didn’t seem right to either of us. My wife and I were 28 and 29 years of age respectively, in excellent physical shape, and with no pre-existing medical conditions.
Within the first week of fertility treatment, a semen analysis showed I had a severely low sperm count and very poor semen parameters (motility and morphology). Following these results, we had a meeting with one of the fertility doctors. The doctor explained that, while my numbers were low, we could still have a child. He went on to explain a number of fertility treatments and techniques available (IUI, IVF, etc). At the very end of our meeting he quickly mentioned the possibility of a “varicocele.” He explained what it was and briefly cited some obscure (and what we later found out to be inaccurate) statistics about their effect on fertility. He was very dismissive of the impact a varicocele could have on my sperm count. The best course of action, the doctor claimed, was to start with IUI treatments with fertility drug assistance. If IUI didn’t work, we could go right into IVF.
For the next four months we had IUI treatments performed with no success. During the process, we were blinded by a false hope that “it only takes one sperm” for pregnancy to work. After the failed IUI treatments we were not quite ready to jump into IVF, mostly because of the invasiveness of the procedure, the significant expense and the lack of a promise that we would be successful. Instead of succumbing to the fertility doctor’s pressure to perform IVF we decided to schedule an appointment with my urologist, and see if he could determine why my sperm count was so low. During his examination he immediately identified that I had a varicocele. The option he offered me was more frightening than promising. He said he could attempt corrective surgery, but it may not work and there is a risk of severing the spermatic cord, which would essentially leave me sterile. Unimpressed with this option, my wife and I found ourselves right back where we started a year ago.
About a month later, my wife called me at work to tell me she had found a top urologist in NYC who specializes in performing varicocelectomies, or varicocele corrections. We met with Dr. Harry Fisch and were immediately impressed. He brought great energy to a situation that at that point felt overwhelmingly defeating. Dr. Fisch was not only confident he could successfully perform the procedure, he was convinced that a varicocelectomy would increase my sperm count and improve sperm parameters. We scheduled the surgery right away. The procedure was quick and easy, and after about two to three days I was back at work.
We had to wait at least three months to see if the surgery was successful, and by the summer of 2011 my sperm count and parameters were drastically better and continued improving every month. A semen analysis done in early 2012 showed my sperm count and quality was well above normal‐ the surgery was a success!
In July of 2012, our long and difficult journey came to an end with what may have been the best news of my life; my wife was pregnant. Despite the numerous fertility treatments and options we were offered it wasn’t until Dr. Fisch intervened and convinced us this surgery was the right course to take did we have success. We lost a year of trying to start a family because the advice we received directed us away from the underlying problem. My only regret is not seeing Dr. Fisch sooner.