Trying to Conceive After a Spinal Cord Injury

Trying to Conceive After a Spinal Cord Injury

Having babies is not always as easy as having sex and waiting for the magic moment the test shows positive. A significant portion of male SCI patients are unable to conceive naturally with their spouses. What do you do when you want a baby and it can’t happen naturally? Welcome to my world! I have 2 beautiful daughters with my wife, but I have always wanted a baby to take care of and to snuggle. My daughters mean the world to me, but they were not babies when I was introduced in their lives. We had plans of adopting a third baby girl this summer but the birth mother changed her mind and has decided to parent. This left us starting over at square one. My wife and I can not conceive naturally due to her own health problems so we’ve had to think outside of the box to expand our family.

There are a number of reasons one may not get pregnant naturally. Lack of ejaculation, retrograde ejaculation, low sperm count, poor sperm motility, and too many possible female problems to begin listing can prevent pregnancy. What do you do besides look into adoption? Adoption is a wonderful choice and there are many children looking for loving families, especially in the foster care systems. If you are determined to have that biological baby be prepared to break out that checkbook because it is not a cheap experience.

There are a few methods used to get pregnant with the help of a fertility specialist. I am not going to discuss the female side with drugs for ovulation such as clomid, well I guess I just did didn’t I? Okay, for women who have pcos or other ovulation issues there are a number or treatments such as clomid to help ramp up egg production and release to get you started. What if the issue is with the male in your life and a lack of ejaculation? To answer quickly and without too much drama the doctor can get those little bad boys out of you. You then have options such as IUI and IVF.

IUI stands for intrauterine insemination. The doctor collects the sperm and implants it via catheter directly into the uterus when the timing is right. This method is great for men suffering from low sperm count or decreased motility. The odds of pregnancy are about the same as having sex during a woman’s period of ovulation. There are no drugs involved with this method. They pop them in and hope the job gets done. What do you do when that doesn’t work? You move on to IVF.

IVF stands for in vitro fertilization aka test tube babies. This is a long process. Drugs are given to hyperstimulate the ovaries to produce as many eggs as possible in one shot. The eggs are then collected once mature. The sperm and eggs meet in a romantic petri dish setting to connect. They are then allowed to divide for a period of 3-6 days before being frozen or reinserted into the uterus. Not all embryos will be healthy enough to insert and the numbers drop dramatically from the original egg count, especially if frozen and thawed for later usage. Once introduced to the uterus it will take 24 hours to up to 4 days for the embryos to implant depending on how long they incubated in the lab. The odds of a successful pregnancy are much higher using IVF. The risks of multiples is extremely high. IVF implanted eggs have a tendency to split into identical twins when a process known as assisted hatching is used.

Trying to conceive the unconventional way is a financially and emotionally trying process. There are ups and downs to every pregnancy. The stakes are higher when you would cut off your right leg to have a baby and have mortgaged a house to pay for that chance. My wife and I are going through this process right now, but that’s a story for another day and another blog.

To all of the hopeful one day parents out there I wish you the best of luck. May we all have that wish fulfilled.

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