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Thread: Varicocele research - ugh!

  1. #1

    Default Varicocele research - ugh!

    Yes, it's 1:30am and I'm still up!

    Now that Christmas has passed, the process of preparing for our next appointment with the fertility specialist has begun...

    The previous appointment ended with the news that repairing DH's varicocele may improve sperm quality, but wouldn't do anything to improve pregnancy chances... very much one of those "huh?" moments!

    I've just spent ages trying to track down articles and try to make sense of them... :throw_computer: I'm so frustrated!



    My acupuncturist suggested one that ACCESS had up... only I found that you need to be a member and I am not... and my next acupuncture appointment is on the 12th, with the FS appointment on the 11th! And then there's the articles you find that could be really relevant and useful - but you can only get the abstract and need to pay US$25 to read the full article!

    I've had enough!

    BW

  2. #2
    Sammi Jane Guest

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    Hi Butterfly Warrior,

    My DH had a varicocele and he had an embolisation done. 75 days later he had a SA done and everything had increased. The main problem was 0% morph which jumped to 29% and then another 3 months later jumped to 31%. We were over the moon, of course. It's now been 5 months since getting those great numbers and we're still not pg though. I don't know what to do.

    Anyway, I just wanted to write and say hi and see if there's anything I can answer for you. I did heaps of research before my DH had his op. There isn't a lot out there unfortunately, and the doctors all seem to have different opinions on the issue.

    It's all very confusing, which just makes it harder doesn't it??

    I hope you're feeling ok.

    Sam

  3. #3

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    Thanks, Sam!

    I think we've pretty much decided that we'll have the repair done... unless there's some issue with me that means we'll need IVF anyway. In that case, our clinic doesn't charge extra for ICSI, so there doesn't seem to be much point.

    The only tricky bit is that DH is leaning more towards the embolisation, but his current specialist only does surgery. I notice you are in Sydney... which specialist did your husband see? We've been given a name, but as we are in Windsor and the specialist is in Hurstville, we'd prefer someone closer if possible!

    BW

  4. #4
    Sammi Jane Guest

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    Hi BW,

    My DH had the embolisation done at Kogarah Private Hospital, so a bit of a hike for you... There must be some way of finding someone that does the embolisation closer to you... I'm not sure how though. My acupuncturist gave me the name of our doctor, maybe yours can recommend someone?

    GL with it, it's such a rollercoaster ride.... I can't wait till it's over.

    Sam

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    That was the name given to me by the acupuncturist!

    DH has me driving in to Rozelle from Windsor weekly for acupuncture (doesn't want me to stop, even when I've been frustrated, and it has certainly helped with my state of mind if nothing else), but complains and grumbles about having to see a specialist about the same distance away even though it wouldn't be anywhere near so often!

    BW

  6. #6
    Sammi Jane Guest

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    Hi BW,

    Which acupuncturist do you see in Rozelle? That's where I go. I see Leah @ Rozelle Acupuncturist Centre.

    The doctor that was recommended was very good. My DH had his op at 3pm but they made a mistake and he didn't go in till about 4pm, and we left the hospital at about 6pm I think. It wasn't too bad. And that's it, you don't have to go back again. The recovery is much better for the embolisation compared to the surgery. My DH had the op done on a Friday afternoon and went back to work on Monday. All he had was a bit of a sore neck.

    How long have you been TTC'ing?? Have you been all checked out??

    Sam

  7. #7

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    :eek: I see Leah too! She's lovely!

    We've only been TTC for 12 months... but only 2 months in I had a false positive pregnancy test in the middle of a 78 day cycle. In investigating what happened then we discovered that I have PCOS... We started treatment for that, and the gynecologist sent DH for a SA, only to discover that he has a triple defect... Eventually we found out that he has a varicocele. I was very unhappy with the first specialist as I don't think I was checked out fully and I sometimes doubt the PCOS diagnosis, but there's definitely something going on! People don't just have 80+ day cycles and fail to respond to clomid for no reason! We've recently changed specialists, had our first appointment just before Christmas and have had loads of tests done. We go back on the 11th to hopefully find out where to go from here.

    DH is curious to know what caused your DH's sore neck from the procedure?

    BW
    Last edited by butterfly_warrior; January 2nd, 2007 at 09:55 AM.

  8. #8
    Sammi Jane Guest

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    Hi BW,

    WOW, I knew you were going to say that! She is lovely. I've been seeing her for almost a year. We've been TTCing for 15 cycles now, but it's only been 5 cycles since my DH got his improved numbers. My DH had a triple defect too! Now his count is a little low, but not by much.

    So has this 2nd specialist found why you have such long cycles and don't respond to clomid?? I hope it's good news on the 11th.

    When they do the embolisation they go in through the neck and go down to just above the testes, then they insert coils into the vein to the varicocele to block blood flow to it. It's quite incredible. Your DH will be left with just a puncture wound on his neck, not even any stitches!! My DH found that is neck was a bit sore where they went in, no other discomfort at all!

    We're trying this month, which will then be 6 months with good sperm numbers. We have an appointment with our FS at the end of this month to maybe start with IUI.

    It's been such a horrible experience, I just want it to be over!!!

    Sam

  9. #9

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    What a small world it is! I'm now wondering if I've ever passed you in the waiting room!

    DH is now a little freaked out about going through the neck - what we had read about the procedure had them going through a vein in the leg. Does that mean they actually go through the heart?

    I haven't heard anything about what the specialist has found... and I'm a little scared to call and ask about the blood test results! I'll wait until the appointment, when I'll have DH with me. Leah thinks that the clomid won't work for me as my eostrogen levels appear to be low - I don't have any tests to confirm this, so it will be interesting to see how the tests match up with Leah's thoughts. She really seems to know her stuff, so I would be more surprised if the test results disagreed with her!

    It truly is a nightmare! I could cope with knowing I had a problem as with my complete absence of a regular cycle for my entire life, I always suspected. But when we got the news about DH, it was like we'd been physically attacked - it was very, very shocking! However, the elation when we discovered that the source of DH's problem was something that could be repaired was equally extreme!

    Good luck with your FS appointment, although I'm hoping even more that this month is successful and you won't need that appointment! I'm almost afraid to ask who your FS is! We see David Knight at Next Generation Fertility.

    BW

  10. #10
    Sammi Jane Guest

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    It is a small world isn't it? How did you end up at Rozelle for acupuncture if you live in Windsor? We might have passed each other?? My appointments are always early Saturday mornings.

    Tell your DH not to worry - it's not a problem. The doctor told us that he likes to go in through the neck because then it's just straight down to the testes. If he goes in through the leg then it's not a straight line to above the testes. Something like that. No, they don't go through your heart. Honestly, it's over so quickly, it's incredible. My DH was a bit nervous, but they drug them up so they don't know what's going on, it's quite funny!

    Is there something they can do to improve your estrogen levels? At least if they know what the problem is you can work with it. When you don't know you just feel helpless don't you? I wish you lots of luck for the 11th.

    I know what you mean about the SA results - we were absolutely devestated when we got 0% morph!!!! I felt like my life was over... I really didn't cope well at all. Luckily DH stayed positive, somehow?! I just hated all of the waiting, waiting to see the doctor to find out if it was a varicocele, then waiting for the appointment to get it fixed, then waiting for the 3 months till the improved results... god it was terrible!!!! It's certainly a rollercoaster ride, and not a good one either!

    Our FS is Ric Porter at IVF Australia. He's close to my work, which makes it easy. Thank you, I too hope that we fall pg this month and don't need our appointment with him.

    All the best for the 11th.

    Sam

  11. #11

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    Sammi Jane, did you ever encounter any of the resistance towards varicocele repairs that we have? Our FS thinks it is a complete waste of time and said that while it does improve sperm quality, it doesn't improve pregnancy rates. But the studies he was basing that opinion on were including men with tiny little varicoceles and normal semen analysis. The ones that dealt with men with big, easy to find varicoceles, triple defect and normal hormone levels found that not only did it improve SA, but it did also improve pregnancy rates and it's much more cost-effective than IVF/ICSI.

    I think they can increase my eostrogen - either that or give me injections of FSH directly so that I can grow eggs rather than using drugs like clomid which try to trigger the body into producing FSH for itself. It's not an area I've read much on - I've been more focussed on the varicocele lately.

    BW

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    Sammi Jane Guest

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    Hi BW,

    We didn't see a FS until after the embolisation was done. We went to a urologist who found the varicocele and who wanted to do surgery to fix it. We then went to the guy that Leah recommended in Kogarah Hospital and had the embolisation done. We then had an appointment with a FS who, after looking at DH's results, said that he agreed with us having fixed it, although he thought the surgery was the better option (not the embolisation). I was quite surprised because I had heard they thought it was a waste of time. I think because DH had the triple defect he thought it might improve something. Well the results speak for themselves, although we're not pg yet.....

    It was a very difficult decision to make because everyone we spoke to told us something different. Leah was recommending the embolisation, the urologist recommended the surgery, other things I read said neither would get us pg. It was really hard to feel confident about what we were doing. In the end I decided we just had to choose something and do it, and ignore everyone else.

    It is amazing what they can do though isn't it? They can make you ovulate if you don't... it's pretty incredible. I'm sure they will be able to help you.

    GL on 11th. Let us know how you go.

  13. #13

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    It's a very difficult area! It's nice to know that we aren't the only ones who have to face the repair or ignore question... and then the surgery/embolisation option if you do decide to repair... Not that it makes the decisions any easier.

    The way I figure it, anything that improves sperm count, motility and morphology has got to make it easier to get pregnant! And some reading I have done suggests that leaving the varicocele alone will just make things get worse and worse over time. My DH's effected testicle has already shrunk somewhat, which is rather disturbing!

    Hopefully both of us will be successful soon.

    BW

  14. #14
    Sammi Jane Guest

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    I know what you mean. I wish there was something I could do to fix it for both of us!!! I agree with you - whatever you can do to improve the sperm quality has got to make it easier to fall pg.

    GL, I hope you get it repaired soon and see great improvements 75 days later!!! And get your BFP not long after that!

    Hopefully 2007 will bring what we so desperately wish for - motherhood.

  15. #15
    ~Jane~ Guest

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    my DH had huge improvement in count, morphology etc after having his repaired, his count actually shot through the roof. We did however, need ivf in the end as we both had problems, but he doesn't regret having it done at all, our philosophy and that of my gynea is that it would increase the odds while we weren't ivf-ing

    All the best

  16. #16
    Sammi Jane Guest

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    Hi Jane,

    I remember 'chatting' to you a while ago about varicoceles. You were a help to me back then, thank you. I'm so happy to see that you're pg. Congratulations!!! You must be over the moon. I hope you have a healthy happy pregnancy.

    Congratulations!

    Sam

  17. #17
    ~Jane~ Guest

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    Thanks Sam, we are very excited, DH is sure having the embolisation done has helped us along the way.

    I can see what you guys mean about the resistance towards having it done, I think the biggest problem which our andrologist told us, is the lack of research done on the topic. Apparently due to the nature of infertility and the length of time that would be involved, not enough people are willing to participate in any research. I have heard so many positive stories along the way where guys have had the repair or the full surgery and had such positive results. I must say that it was something I was worried sick about, I just wanted to get on with IVF if I had to go down that path and stop wasting time, looking back even though we did need IVF I am still glad he had it done.

  18. #18

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    Thankyou to you both for your insight on the topic of varicoceles!

    I was getting really frustrated by the research that the FS handed us. When much of the research involved men with sub-clinical (only detectable by ultrasound) varicoceles, and/or men who already had normal sperm counts - it seems blatantly obvious to me that of course correcting those varicoceles wasn't going to improve anything! There is very limited research out there on men who have large varicoceles, triple defects in sperm and normal hormone profiles - I've encountered quite a few studies that were abandoned because they couldn't get enough participants!

    Jane, did your husband have the embolisation or the surgery?

    I think that if we need to have IVF anyway for my issues, then we won't be worrying about the repair, DH seems to be positively terrified of it now after our last FS appointment!

    BW

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