Eric Alves thought he’d never father his own child with his wife due to male infertility, so his Father’s Day was extra special.
“You have to take a step back and realize just how much of a miracle he really is,” Alves said.
Alves and his wife, Brienne, were told two years ago it wasn’t likely they could conceive a child.
“When you’re told there’s a possibility that you don’t have sperm, there’s a possibility that you won’t have a child, you sort of feel the shame,” Eric said.
“You always hear about shooting blanks or people joking about it and I didn’t know it was a real thing,” Brienne said.
Eric was diagnosed with azoospermia, a condition causing male infertility. They met with specialists and Cleveland Clinic urologist Neel Parekh offered hope.
“Infertility is a couple’s disease -- 50% of the time there is a male factor involved in infertility so it’s not only the female side,” Parekh said.
After a year of testing and trying medications, the couple opted for a surgical solution called microtese.
“They go into the testicles; they pull tissues and then they will look under a microscope and hope to find sperm,” Parekh said.
While Eric was in surgery, Brienne underwent an egg retrieval down the hall.
“As I was being wheeled over to wait for Eric in the waiting room, Dr. Parekh actually stopped me in the hallway to tell me that they had found sperm,” Brienne said. “It was a really, really exciting time. I will never forget that moment.”
Four months later, an embryo was transferred into Brienne’s uterus and then Eric got the best birthday gift he could ever imagine.
“I was hoping to give him a positive test as a gift and it worked out,” Brienne said. “We realized what we had been dreaming of was going to happen.”
Their baby boy, Noah is now 7 months old. They say he’s an easy baby, but admit, bringing him into the world wasn’t.
“I will be the first to tell you that it’s not easy. But I will also be the first to tell you that it’s worth it --100% worth it,” Brienne said.
“The journey seems long and seems it’s going to be awhile, (but) don’t give up. I would do it all over again if it meant to have my son,” Eric said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 9% of men in the U.S. are infertile.
Dr. Parekh said that, in general, the number of cases of infertility is rising. He encourages couples to talk to their doctors or seek out a specialist if they’re struggling to conceive.
When it comes to your health, there’s a perception that men don’t ask questions. But since June is National Men’s Health Month, we want to help you get answers. So if there’s something you’ve been too embarrassed to ask a doctor about, or a question that’s been bothering your husband or son, share it with us. Dr. Ali Kasraeian has agreed to answer them.