Appreciating the Man... Husband... Guy... Whoever

To Wind Up This Month of "Let's Here it for the Boys... & their Boys"...

In the past few weeks, I've had guest posts from James who told his story about going from dealing with a surly infertility doctor to having twins and Philip who's still going through his long bout with infertility and treatments-- both as the patient and as the support person to his wife. But I haven't written anything about my husband who was there during every step of my infertility adventure. And when I say "he was there", I don't necessarily mean he hugged and comforted me the whole time. I mean more like... well... he didn't move out.

My husband went to all of the doctor appointments with me and jabbed me in the butt every night. It's true that the fertility issues were all mine- which shows you how unfair nature is since my infertility was age-related and he's exactly nine days older than I am.  My husband's participation was pretty much limited to a 10 minute date with a plastic cup and the aforementioned nightly ass-jab. But while his physical participation was limited, his emotional participation was vital. As many of you know firsthand, if you don't become a wreck just from the stress of trying to get pregnant month after month, the hormones will help you along. Not only do they help you get pregnant, they also help you on your path to becoming a nut case. Like I alluded to a paragraph or so ago, I'm not married to an: "Oh Honey, let me put my arm around you and tell you everything's going to be okay" kind of guy. I'm married to more of an "I have no idea what to do or say, so I'll just leave the room now" kind of guy. While I was frustrated at the time, I can tell you in retrospect that that was probably the smarter way to go. A conversation with me at that juncture would likely have resulted in this repartee:

Him: "Maybe you should..."

Me: "What do you know about what I should do?! You're not the one taking all these pills and shoving things up your woo-hoo and injecting yourself subcutaneously and giving blood every two days!"

For all I know, if I'd let him finish the sentence it would have been: "Maybe you should have an apple."

I also have to thank him for my writing. Really... I was in such a state of overwhelm at the time, a lot of what happened to me during fertility treatments is a total blank. He once said to me:

"Remember what Dr. Walker first told us? That first you should try the Gonal-F, and it was hard to gauge how much was coming out of the vial and you started with a moderate dose, and then he saw that the follicles were growing and you took a lower dose, and then the follicles seemed to be growing fine on their own..." and I was like:

"Who's Dr. Walker?"

"What do you mean: 'Who's Dr. Walker?' That was the doctor at the first clinic we went to."

(This dialogueless space indicates my blank stare.)

Husband: "We went to him for the first five months."

(Still haven't blinked.)

Husband: "You had three IUIs with him."

(Nope.... I mean, I know I had IUIs. Just couldn't be sure where.)

Husband: "Tall, thin, guy. Had an accent..."

Me: "Oh, wait. Was he the one on the fifth floor?"

Husband: "Yeees! Now you remember?"

Me: "Sort of. I remember getting into an elevator."

So my husband wasn't rubbing my feet or my back or my neck. And he wasn't telling me how wonderful he thought it was that I was going through all this to try to have his child like the husband would in a Hallmark TV movie or anything... but he did walk behind me the whole time with his Dustbuster, picking up the remnants of my mind... and for that, I'm forever grateful.

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Let's Hear it for the Boys... & their "boys"... & Lab Director Carole Wegner

So as most of you know, I'm a humor writer. This means that I'm a professional highly-trained in making smart-ass remarks. Look how good I am at it, even my job description to you contained a smart-ass remark. My entire life, I've never been able to help myself from doing it so I finally gave in and made a career of it. That's why I'm no good on Facebook. People beg you for sympathy and support. Look, my friend Shannon whom I adore posted that she lost 133 pounds. Only she accidentally wrote "ponds"instead of "pounds" so of course everyone else wrote: "Good job!" and "Way to Go!" and I had to write: "Was that water weight, Shannon?" instead of letting it go like a normal person. (I've probably been un-friended by more people on FB than anyone else.) So in honor of "Let's Hear it for the Boys... and their 'boys'" month, when it comes to male infertility, I thought it best if I just shut-up and let a medical professional tell you some important stuff with some great links to more important stuff... instead of a smart-ass professional telling you why it's funny... which of course it isn't.

In honor of Father’s Day, I thought I’d tell the story of a little known but highly significant male reproductive organ- the epididymis. It is pronounced Eppie-Diddy-Mus which may sound like an urban rapper but I assure you, it is not.  The epididymis which is attached to and  lies just above the testicle, is responsible for the “detailing” or “fine-tuning” of freshly made sperm just released from the testicle.  Yes, the testicle produces the sperm but without the polishing and detailing in the epididymis, sperm wouldn’t swim and wouldn’t be able to fertilize an egg. So pretty important,  no?

It is important for a male to be able to tell when there are changes in the size or feel of his testicles or epididymides because these may be signs of cancer or inflammation associated with infection. This link, Get to Know Your Testis, explains how to find the epididymis ( which lies to the top and back of each testicle). You should also be able to also feel the tubes leaving from the epididymis called the vas deferens. If a vasectomy is performed, these tubes which normally carry sperm from the epididymis to the penis are clipped inside the scrotum to render the male sterile. Reconnecting the tubes surgically via a vasectomy-reversal procedure can restore fertility if not too much time has elapsed between the two surgeries.  There are two kinds of vasectomy reversal procedures as described in this article from the NY TImes Health Guide. It’s worth reading for those who want to know more about vasectomy and it’s reversal.

  • Vasovasostomy . The severed ends of the vas deferens are sewn back together.
  • Vasoepididymostomy . The vas deferens is surgically reattached directly to the epididymis. This procedure is more difficult to perform and is used when vasovasostomy cannot be performed or does not work.

But this post is about the epididymis, which despite years of research over many decades is still shrouded in mystery. The epididymis has three functionally distinct regions , the caput (or head), the corpus (or body) and the cauda (or tail). What is clear is that by the time the sperm transits these three regions and is stored in the final region, the cauda, prior to ejaculation, it is a fully mature sperm, capable of strong forward progressive motility and has acquired the molecular ability to fertilize the egg. But in spite of decades of research in both animals and humans, we still don’t fully understand all the molecular changes that occur in the sperm membrane within this organ.

The review article New Insights into Epididymal Biology and Function is a highly detailed review for those who want to understand the nitty-gritty scientific efforts to understand the molecular mechanisms responsible for the epididymides’ unique ability to grant life-giving properties to sperm. For the andrologist or reproductive scientist, it has lots of references for further study.

Up to 40% of infertility is due to male-specific causes. Some of these causes are not obvious and may well be due to molecular sperm defects we are incapable of detecting–and may be due to faulty “fine-tuning” of sperm cells in the epididymis.  Much of male-specific infertility can be addressed by the use of intracytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI, which bypasses some deficiencies in sperm functionality acquired in the epididymis, like the inability to swim. However, ICSI is not without risks and sometimes fertilization fails even with ICSI so ICSI is not the solution for every cause of male infertility.

The original sperm cell produced by the testis looks like a sperm cell, but it is non-functional and can not swim. That is why testicular sperm can only be used with ICSI, not for conventional IVF or insemination, because it can not yet swim, nor fertilize an egg. The lipid (fat molecules) and proteins that are inserted into the plasma membrane of the sperm cell also change while in transit through the epididymis.  Some molecules are shedded and others are added to the sperm membrane to ultimately produce a functional sperm cell which can swim to, attach to, penetrate and fertilize an egg.

Researchers looking for male contraceptives are also interested in understanding which proteins are involved with functional maturation of sperm so that a reversible non-hormonal method to block sperm maturation can be designed. Likewise, if the molecular maturation mechanisms were understood, it might be possible to mature sperm in vitro and be able to use conventional in vitro fertilization, instead of ICSI, to gain the benefit of some natural selection. Therefore, a better understanding of the epididymis may lead to new therapies for infertility as well as new methods for contraception.

Each segment of the epididymis appears to have distinct gene profiles, producing a highly regulated cellular micro-environment, capable of responding to signalling pathways in a highly orchestrated way. Each segment is physiologically separated from the adjacent segment by connective tissue, permitting compartmentalization of the organ and segment-specific regulation . Not surprisingly, the various cells of the epididymis respond to androgens, the male hormone. Studies suggest that sperm and the cells lining the epididymis also exchange cell to cell  signals as part of the in transit maturation process and probably further regulate that process. The epididymis may have the most complex fluid composition of any exocrine gland and this composition varies with each region of  epididymis. The caput produces 70-80% of the proteins secreted into the epididymal lumen. By the time the sperm get to the cauda end, most of the fluid has been reabsorbed, fundamentally increasing the concentration of proteins bathing the sperm in the tubes.

Take good care of your epididymis and it will take good care of you.  Check your epididymis (and testicles) every month for changes in size, areas of hardening or changes in sensitivity or pain. Let your physician know about any unusual changes which could indicate epididymal (or testicular) inflammation, infection, presence of cysts or nodules,  or even cancer, all of which can impair your fertility and overall health. Here’s a link to more information on how to do a self-exam.

Carole Wegner is currently the VP of Grants Administration at the V Foundation for Cancer Research in Cary, NC. Prior to that, Carole was Lab Director of a Fertility clinic for more than a decade.  Her book: Fertility Lab Insider can be purchased on Amazon.


Hi there. This is Lori, the smartass. Looking to have laughs at infertility's expense? Sign up for my newsletter / check out my little eBook:

Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman's Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility. It's my infertility story that's been downloaded by 1000s of infertility sufferers & professionals looking to de-stress from infertility with laughs. (comments by top infertility experts in "look inside".) (newsletter sign up at top of page) (avail on all Amazons, Nook & Kobo)



Let's Hear it for the Boys... & James Doherty

To continue with the "Let's Hear it for the Boys... and their 'boys'" June theme, I'm bringing you a post from my cyber friend, James Doherty, an Irishman living with his wife in Germany. As you'll see, he considers infertility to be the best thing that's ever happened to him. I don't know him that well, so now, I'm thinking maybe he's not quite "right". I mean how sane can you be if you think infertility is the best thing that ever happened to you? What kind of a life have you had? Where have you lived? What kind of people raised you? Infertility is the best thing that's ever happened to you??! Haven't you ever had a birthday party or gone on a trip or gotten a job you really wanted or made some nice new friends or won a raffle??... what about getting married? INFERTILITY is the best thing that's ever happened to you?! What I mean is: "What's wrong with you?!!"... Maybe I should just let him tell it.  I'm going to have some herbal tea and lie down.

(warning: children mentioned.)

Why infertility is the best thing that ever happened to me.

One man’s journey(with his wife) from infertility to having twins

Infertility is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It is also the worst thing that I have ever experienced. My story started at an infertility clinic in West Berlin, in Autumn 2014. The news was administered by a fertility doctor that had about as much emotion as an inanimate carbon rod. To make matters worse she had a face like a well-slapped arse and this is how she delivered the devastating news “You might as well not have sex anymore. You have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting pregnant naturally”. What an absolute weapon, I thought. I was still able to have sex, it was just the quality of my sperm that was the issue. It was the morphology and motility to be exact. Sex was, and still is pleasurable for me, it is just that I would be better off doing the Euromillions every week.

The majority of people that I met in the field of fertility, from the doctors, and nurses, to the midwives, were some of the nicest people that I have encountered. Create and protecting lives comes with a responsibility of being caring. We managed to meet the one fertility doctor that would have been more at home on Hitler’s board of advisors than in a fertility clinic. Despite the poor start and harrowing fertility journey, we now feel like we have won the lottery ten times over. After two failed and one successful IVF treatment we are now blessed with two little miracles, Max and Mathilda.

The end result was better than we ever could have expected. I am probably biased, but in my opinion, we have the most beautiful twins that I have ever seen. The road to this point was paved with depression, disappointment and disastrous failed IVF treatments. Our first two fertility treatments failed miserably and 2015 was the most horrendous year of your lives. Anyone that has been through failed fertility treatment will understand just how hard it is. I find it hard to believe that I will go through anything harder in my life.

Each IVF treatment begins with so much hope and expectation. When it fails it is like you have lost a loved one. Both my wife and I mourned what felt like a miscarriage. The fertility drugs that come with the treatment are so harsh and the side effects are nothing short of crazy. To go through this hardship and come out with the negative result was traumatic.

It is always darkest before the dawn and the second failed IVF treatment was like the wake-up call that my life needed. For our third IVF treatment things needed to change. I go into it deeper in a series of blog posts that you can see on my blog. (See Below)

I got fitter, changed my diet, lost weight, and became a better husband. All of these things were lacking and need to change. They say that a leopard never changes his spots, but I disagree. As a result of poor sperm quality, I overcompensated and became a better person and now have my two miracles, a happier healthier life and a blossoming relationship. That is why infertility is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Scantily Dad is James Doherty. Born in Dublin, Ireland and lives in Berlin, Germany with his beautiful wife Olivia and twins Max and Mathilda. His blog is the World's most popular Dad blog. He writes about how we went from surviving of multiple IVF treatments to becoming a father of Twins. The blog also features contributions from other parenting bloggers.


Hi this is Lori. The tea and nap really helped. Looking to have laughs at infertility's expense? Sign up for my newsletter / check out my little eBook:

Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman's Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility. It's my infertility story that's been downloaded by 1000s of infertility sufferers & professionals looking to de-stress from infertility with laughs. (comments by top infertility experts in "look inside".) (newsletter sign up at top of page) (avail on all Amazons, Nook & Kobo)

"Thank You for Not Being a Schmuck" Month

Although my 84 year old father lived among a lot of couples in his retirement community in Florida, I couldn't help noticing every time I visited that he spent much more time talking with the women than the men. Finally I decided to ask him why that was: "Well, the wives are all very nice." He said. "But their husbands are a bunch of schmucks."

So while we may not be in a position to, or at all interested in, celebrating Father's Day this year, I propose an alternate holiday:

"Thank You for Not Being a Schmuck" Month.

Your spouse/partner/husband--whatever he is-- probably does some things that irritate you. That's normal, of course. And yet, even with those small annoyances, minor aggravations and colossal pet peeves that drive you up a fkn wall... He's the one, the only one, you've hand-picked to have calendar-induced copulation with and to sire your future children. You know you wouldn't have your eggs in a freezer, snuggling together for warmth with anyone else's sperm.

So he's not perfect...

I would have to say that all of the stereotypical bad habits that we accuse most men of having... well, that's pretty much me. I watch every ballgame I can and argue every play with the TV. I have road rage. I easily fit curse words in as nouns, verbs or adjectives in any sentence. I scratch whatever itches no matter where I am or who is looking. And I'm not the neatest person.

Some couples have problems in the bedroom. We have problems in the kitchen.

He doesn't like the way I rinse stuff off. I rinse it off so it looks fine to me... but not to him. Then if I rinse it off adequately, I shouldn't have left it in the sink. Clearly, it should have been transferred into the dishwasher. But if I'm the dish washer, why do I have a dishwasher? And apparently after I rinse off the food and gunk into the sink, I'm supposed to clean the sink. I don't skeeve many things, but kitchen sink drains is one of them.

Also, if the dishwasher has clean dishes in it, apparently that's my cue to empty it out. I'm aware that we usually have clean dishes in the cabinets. I just never knew how they got there.

And then there's the peanut butter issue. A common breakfast for me includes sticking a teaspoon into the peanut butter and eating it...and repeating this action... three times... every morning. It's not my fault: A serving size is a tablespoon. Three teaspoons equal a tablespoon. Sure I could dip one tablespoon once instead of one teaspoon three times, but my way just feels like a bigger breakfast. I finally did the only sensible thing and got my own private jar of peanut butter to slobber into. Still, I don't get it. Of all the things my husband's seen me put into my mouth in the past fourteen years, he thinks my peanut butter spoon is the most disgusting?

So maybe "Thank You for Not Being a Schmuck" isn't quite right. I mean, we're all schmucks sometimes. Maybe: "Thank You for not Being a Total Schmuck" is better.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you smiled a few times during your stay. Please sign on for my newsletter at the top of my home page.

...and take a look at my eBook. As a then-stand-up comic and (still) humor writer, I wrote it during my own bout with infertility and treatments to help me make sense of it all. It's been downloaded by 1000s of people looking to de-stress from their infertility hell. (Comments by top fertility professionals inside.) 4.5 stars/ 66 reviews. Available on Amazon/Kobo/Nook.

Laughing IS Conceivable


Mother's Day Post from an Infertile Dad

Hi everybody! In honor of Mother's Day,  please help me welcome Guest Blogger, James Doherty. He has a great blog called: Scantily Dad. (Just use the link below if you'd like to check it out. I tried googling "scantily" & unspeakable things came up. My home might be raided any minute.) He and his wife have been through IVF and here's his unique & quite humorous take on it, & Mother's Day.... Enjoy! (Alert: children mentioned)

Mother’s Day - An acronym for my infertility journey

To celebrate my wife and I beating the crap out of infertility, I have kindly been given the honour of guest posting for Laughing IS Conceivable. Humour is important for me and I had to try and find humour in the least funny of situations, infertility. The easiest way for me to do this was by creating an acronym that represents my journey through the IVF mill. This is no reflection on my mother or my wife, I swear, so if you read this Oli or Barb, please don’t beat me up.

The acronym for "Mother’s" describes our horrific journey through infertility and IVF. Those nerve-wracking times are thankfully behind us.

The acronym for "Day" is a little more on the positive side and reflects how we got through IVF treatment


M stands for Mortified. I was mortified at the fact that my sperm move about as graciously as a Walrus on land.

O stands for Ossified. Being a proud Irish man getting ossified (plastered drunk) was the only way to numb the pain of stopping my wife from being a Mother on Mother’s day. In hindsight, drinking could have been the cause of, and the solution to my infertility problem. Whoops!

T stands for Testicular Ineptitude. It is a sad state of affairs; my testicles are inept. My sperm is about as abnormal as an immigrant on Donald Trump’s board of advisers.

H is for Handjob. How romantic is it that for us to have babies all that I had to do was have a quick handjob.

E is for Ejaculatory dilapidation. Over a decade of eating crap, drinking like a fish and smoking like a chimney has left my sperm in a state of ejaculatory dilapidation.

R is for Ravaged Relationship. Our relationship had been ravaged by the rancorousness of assisted reproductive therapy. Thankfully, we made it through and came out the other side unscathed.

S is for the Shit times. Oh those shitty shit times. Two failed IVF treatments were the shittiest times of our lives. Anyone who has been through it knows just how shit it actually is. When you think you are having a bad day, compare it to failed IVF, and rarely will your day be worse.


D is for Dedication. That’s what it takes to get through the shit times of IVF. You have to keep your eye on the prize. Seeing the bigger picture and being dedicated to the end goal is key to getting through infertility.

A is Appreciation. When everything is so hard and there seems to be no end in sight, it makes the good times feel even better. If you live each day in appreciation of what you have got, then you will be happy for the rest of your life.

Y is for Yes we fucking can. In the words of Barack Obama, with fucking thrown in as intensifying adjective, “YES WE FUCKING CAN” is the only attitude that will get you through infertility and IVF treatment. That attitude is the reason we did not give up and now have twins. Proud survivor of three IVF treatments, James was born and bred in Dublin Ireland and lives in Berlin, Germany with his twins Max and Mathilda. He is a dad blogger and an influencer that writes about infertility, twins and all things parenthood. The scantily dad blog is the ultimate parenting resource on the internet.

"Thanks, James!"-- This is Lori speaking now. If you'd like more laughs at infertility's expense:

Check out my own new bonus Mother's Day post:                   "Mother's Day in the Land of What Ifs"@

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Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman's Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility. (Amazon UK) (Amazon Canada)

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