I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I’ve never really had a burning desire to be a dad. But being a mum – albeit not a bioligical one – is a whole different kettle of fish. So, today, I went to freeze a few million sperm.
I’m probably writing this blog post arse about tit. The girl I’ve written about plenty of times on here, Annie, is now my girlfriend. Hooray! I shall write a full post in the future about how all that came about but suffice to say, I’m truly, madly, deeply in love – and so is she. Yay!
“The trans thing” this time just isn’t an issue – in fact, it’s a massive positive to Annie, who’s pansexual. And it takes every fibre of my being not to propose to her every time we meet. Bit soon! She is incredible, and she is the person I want so spend the rest of my life with. I’ve never met anyone like her.
One thing about Annie is that she’s always wanted children. As regular readers know, I’ve never really wanted kids, but I always saw that from a dad, rather than a mum, point of view.
Now I’m with someone with whom I see a long-term future, I have looked at the whole situation again. I’ve always said I’d never rule out having children, so long as it with was with someone incredibly special.
Enter Annie, someone who ticks every box ever invented – and then creates hundreds more and ticks all of those as well. If I am to be a parent, I can’t think of a better partner to bring up my children with.
Obviously, beginning HRT means there’s a massive risk of becoming infertile. So the only option available to M2F people like me who might like children in the future is freezing sperm.
I did a little research a couple of weeks ago and spoke to a trans friend who’d already undergone the process. So I decided to get the ball rolling and look into freezing some of my own sperm.
After visiting this website, I telephoned the andrology department at Queen’s Medical Centre, in Nottingham, and made an appointment. That appointment was today.
I wasn’t entirely sure what the appointment would involve, but I went along with Annie for moral support.
After sleeping in, getting stuck in traffic and then being unable to find anywhere to park, we finally arrived at the QMC, maybe 20 minutes late. We made our way to the andrology department, which is accessed via the fertility department, and made our apologies for our tardiness.
The staff seemed pretty chilled out, though, and we were told to sit down in a waiting area. After that, we were shown to a tiny room with three chairs – a couple for Annie and I, and another for our andrologist, a lovely lady called Karen Pooley.
And then she took us through all the whys and wherefores of freezing sperm. I’m not going to go into too much detail as all the information will be online in far more authoratitive websites than this.
But she spoke about the sperm being coated in a substance to help them survive the freezing process (-190C in liquid nitrogen) for anything up to 55 years. Each sample is divided into a number of “straws” which are then frozen. The amount of straws depends on the amount of semen produced.
Then there was a chat about the various ways in which sperm could be used when the time comes, as it were, which are artificial insemination (turkey baster method), IVF (place egg into a load of sperm and hope one gets in there) and ICSI (chopping the tail off one of the best sperm and injecting its head into the egg). Obviously, embyros are then created before being implanted.
This was all quite an eye-opener. We were told that IVF was only about 50% successful but that the two Nottingham clinics used were the best in the country. I think ICSI had a higher success rate. The costs for both were astronomical. Thousands of pounds.
However, the costs of freezing sperm, plus all the associated blood tests (HIV and hepatitis), and the consultation was about £300, which I didn’t think was too extortionate. There’s then a fee of about £100 for every year’s storage after that.
Then there were loads and loads of forms to sign – all about freezing sperm, for how long (I went for 20 years, but this can be changed later), allowing Annie to use them in the event of my death, etc, etc.
Got to hand it Annie. She’s only 22, but she handled the whole process really well. She said later it was a tad overwhelming (and it really was – especially all the detail about egg harvesting and embryo implanting), but she didn’t have a meltdown. I reckon that was a big hurdle overcome and a landmark milestone in our relationship.
It was also quite cool to use my new signature for the first time since signing my Deed Poll on such important paperwork. Once the consulatation was done and all the forms were signed, it was time to, ya know, get happy!
I was shown into another little room – Annie stayed outside because I didn’t want her to make me laugh! – and did what comes naturally.
I’d heard about pornography being used at places where men go to donate sperm. And, sure enough, there was a box file with a collection of well-thumbed magazines in there. All pretty softcore and harmless.
There was also a computer monitor and hard drive contanining 16 videos from PornHub. I didn’t really fancy using magazines which had been handled by hands which had been round spermy cocks, though, and none of the video titles really did it for me.
So I found one or two pictures on my phone and, sitting in a comfy chair, strummed along merrilly to those instead. Damage done, I collected my sample in a small plastic container and cleaned my hands with a baby wipe. There’s a toilet and basin in there, too.
Then I went back out to the consultation area, where Annie was patiently waiting. “That was quick!” she said. I’d not been that quick, though! Blooming heck!
The sample container we placed in a plastic bag, and this was handed to a woman in the andrology lab – full of weird wonderful machines and gizmos – to begin the freezing process.
I also had a blood test and made a second appointment – you need to freeze two samples – and that was it. I collected photocopies of my forms and then we headed back to the car, where we’d been charged £5 to park. Daylight robbery!
I’d been pretty nervous before I went in, worrying about whether I might be infertile. Our andrologist said that about 5% of men have zero sperm – and I wondered if me taking phytoestrogens two or three years ago might have affected things.
But she said she’d call me if there was a problem like that, and I’ve had no calls, so I can only assume all’s OK. I really hope it is.
And then we drove home and went for lunch, sitting in the sunshine and dining al fresco while talking about what had happened – and about baby names. I kept saying we’d done a very grown-up thing. Annie’s so young and I’m a big kid at heart.
Neither of us want to have children yet but, all being well, we’ve taken the first baby steps towards parenthood – towards being mums! It’s crazy, but good-crazy. The future is looking so beautiful.
UPDATE: I was so worried I might be infertile that I telephoned Karen the next day. Thankfully, all was well. Result!
I have 15 million sperm per ml – completely normal – and their motility is 25%. Normal is 30%, but mine are still perfectly fine at 25%. We got nine straws. I’m going for at least 12 next time!