When The Kids Can’t Swim

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 7 2012 @ 4:55pm

Marcus Williams finds that the artificial insemination industry marginalizes the male side of things:

My first experience of how unimportant male fertility seemed to be to the medical establishment was when I had my first semen analysis ordered, in my early 30s. The context was my first marriage, and after several months of failed attempts to conceive the old-fashioned way, I asked my general practitioner during a physical if he could refer me for testing. I thought maybe I’d get referred to a fertility clinic—I knew such things existed—or at least a urologist. Instead, he referred me to a local all-purpose lab that among other things, could do semen analysis.

I showed up expecting at least a private room and a skin mag to help things along. Instead, I was taken to a public restroom in the office building and instructed to produce my specimen sitting on the toilet, where the stall had a flimsy sliding lock, but the main door into the bathroom could not be secured. Ooooh, sexy! … 

[One fertility doctor] had lots to say about in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intra-uterine insemination (IUI), either of which were possibilities if we used donor sperm.  His counsel regarding donor sperm was to "Talk to each other, your therapists, your spiritual counselor, or whoever," but all he seemed to care about was that sperm was a necessary ingredient to the fertility treatments that could get my wife pregnant. My fertility wasn’t his business. 

Some help has arrived:

While it’s just as likely that infertility is related to the male half of the couple, only 20% of men in duos struggling to make a baby get a sperm-count analysis early on or at all, according to data from SpermCheck Fertility, which earlier this month announced the availability of its at-home screening test for men. SpermCheck, which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, assesses sperm count with 98% accuracy in 10 minutes and does away with the unpleasantness of conjuring up a sperm sample in a doctor’s office.