Thoughts on Male Factor Infertility from Chas

Today’s blog post is from Chas. I had the opportunity to interview Chas and his wife, Audrey, for the project back in December. If you’ve seen our exhibit in person, you may be familiar with his reaction to being diagnosed with Male Factor Infertility. Thanks, Chas, for sharing your story with us!                                                                                          Elizabeth

 “We would have cute kids!”

That was the line I said to my wife while we were in college. Forward? Sure. Did I mean it? Yes. Did I know it would take 3 years and 7 IUI’s to finally have a child? Definitely not.

My wife and I wanted to do the things that we felt we had to do before we had kids. You know: get married, careers, buy a house, travel, etc. It wasn’t until my college roommates had their first child in May of 2012 that we sat down and said, “We want a child. We want to experience that kind of love.”

Flash forward 3-4 months of trying, we both felt something was wrong but due to our medical coverage we had to wait a full calendar year of trying to conceive before diagnostic tests could be run. In June of 2013 we were finally referred to our reproductive endocrinologist and the tests began. All of my wife’s tests came back with nothing wrong with her, but I was a different story.


Low motility and low sperm count. That is what my semen analysis (SA) read. I was angry. How could this happen? I have never done illegal drugs, I can count on one hand the times I had smoked a cigar, I workout, eat well, take care of my body, What the hell? Did I do my fair share of the college bar scene? Sure, but it’s not like I drank a fifth of Jack Daniels a night. This had to be wrong. Then the next SA three weeks later had the same results. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Why me?


I was diagnosed with unexplained male factor infertility.  When I was diagnosed with male factor infertility I truly did go though the 5 stages of grief. At first I wanted more SA’s because I was a red-blooded American male and nothing could be wrong with me. Denial. Then when all 5 those SA’s came back the same I was angry at myself, and my body for failing me, with my anger directed towards anyone who crossed my path. I would snap at the littlest things and pick fights just to fight. The anger really stayed for a long time. After that came the bargaining: if I take these infertility vitamins and change my diet that should do the trick. It worked for other people it had to work for me. When the vitamins and diet change didn’t work the depression set in. This is when things got pretty bad. I was truly numb to the world. I disconnected from my wife. She would ask me a question about my day and I would give one-word answers. I couldn’t find the joy in the things I use to love doing. I didn’t want to be around anyone, I just wanted to stay home in the dark. After our 6thIUI failed during National Infertility Awareness Week 2014the acceptance finally started. My wife had posted something on a social media site that she didn’t know other people could see, outed if you will, our struggle to have a child to our friends and family. The cat was out of the bag so to speak.  After that only love and support followed from our friends and family. With that love and support we did a picture for NIAW and we also made a team for the Northern California Walk of Hope.

Chas_NIAW Having to watch my wife take pills and get injections probably was one of the worst parts of the whole IUI process.  The pills gave her hot flashes and I handled that pretty well I think. I always had something to cool her down. The injections were hard to watch. I know IVF injections are more extensive but watching her give herself Menopur injections sucked. Watching her do the pain dance, as we called it, always got to me, but the bruises afterwards would bring tears to my eyes. I had to helplessly stand by and watch as my wife had to go through this for something my body was failing to do.

The infertility community as a whole has been so amazing. My wife and I have met so many amazing people going through the challenges of infertility. I don’t think I have ever met that many people that truly pull for you to succeed in that capacity. There is such a kinship in the community that you really do have to experience it and cannot be qualified into words.

If putting my story out there can change one man’s mind for the better about Male Factor Infertility I would feel I accomplished my goal for this blog. Unfortunately, there really isn’t research and support out there for MFI. Why is it on rise? Chemical age? Maybe, but there is no concrete proof. This is especially true for unexplained MFI. There is no need to feel ashamed and disconnected from your partner no matter the diagnosis you are in this together.


Tri-State, NJ Walk of Hope

Maria and I met when we both attended RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association’s Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. in May of 2014 and quickly bonded over the fact that we were both peer-led support group hosts for the organization. RESOLVE’s signature fundraising event is their Walk of Hope, which takes place around the country.

The ART of IF will be at the Tri-State walk in New Jersey on September 12. We’ll be a community sponsor, to help further RESOLVE’s wonderful work in advocating legislation that helps those with infertility build their families. Our table will have examples from the exhibit on display and we will be doing mini interviews for that project. We’re also putting together a fundraising team. Let us know if you’d like to join us!

Jenna Marinelli is the chair of the walk this year and we’ve asked her to tell us some more about the walk and her personal reasons for walking through our blog this week. Thanks, Jenna, for sharing your story!


RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association is hosting the 1st Annual Tri-State Walk of Hope and we are looking for you to join us!!

The Walk of Hope is RESOLVE’s signature fundraising event. This is a community event that recognizes the many ways in which families are built, supports local support services and programs for the 7.4 million men and women living with infertility. A Walk of Hope event represents the infertility journey—a series of small steps, each one filled with hope and a reminder that no one with infertility should walk alone. One Morning, One Mile, One Community.

Local facts:

  • More than 992,000 women in the Tri-State area (New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) are impacted by infertility.
  • There are only 30 peer-led support groups in the Tri-State area.
  • New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have insurance mandates for fertility coverage.

After participating in the Washington, D.C. Walk of Hope for past 3 years, I am honored to be the Chair of the inaugural Tri-State Walk of Hope on September 12th, 2015 at Overpeck County Park – Ridgefield Park Area in New Jersey. This event gives me the incredible opportunity to connect with others struggling with their own infertility, often silently and alone.

Jenna has raised the most for the Washington, D.C. Walk for multiple years. She's now taking her energy to NJ as the Tri-State walk's chair.

Jenna has raised the most for the Washington, D.C. Walk for multiple years. She’s now taking her energy to NJ as the Tri-State walk’s chair.

My story dates back to June 2010, exactly one year after marrying my high school sweetheart, when I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure at the age of 26. POF is defined as the loss of ovarian function before the age of 40. It occurs in 1 in 1,000, or 1%, of women between the ages of 15 and 29, with the average onset being 27 years old. Currently, there is no cure and no proven treatment that can restore the normal functioning of the ovaries or fertility. Women with POF are recommended IVF with donor eggs or to pursue adoption. POF also has lifelong health implications beyond fertility, particularly with regard to cardiovascular and bone health with greater risks for developing osteoporosis, estrogen deficiency and heart disease.


As of today, my infertility “resume” includes 3 failed IUI’s, 4 cancelled IVF’s using my eggs, and 1 Donor Egg IVF that ended in a Chemical Pregnancy. We do not live in a state that mandates infertility coverage (PA), so we pay out of pocket for everything. This is why we need everyone’s help raising awareness to infertility, so hopefully one day there will be more options & treatments available for couples faced with this disease. We are currently gearing up for our next cycle using Frozen Donor Eggs! I hope that sharing my journey can bring awareness and help even one person. I am a survivor! I will beat infertility!

Please join me for this walk so that no one struggles alone. Registration is free and all are welcome to attend. Both teams and individuals may register. The Walk of Hope also offers fun and activities for all ages. All funds donated will go directly to RESOLVE to further its work. Visit our website today at

The walk will be held at the beautiful Overpeck County Park.

The walk will be held at the beautiful Overpeck Country Park.

Other ways to help

Follow the Tri-State Walk of Hope on Facebook and Twitter.

We need talented, dedicated, and hard-working volunteers to plan, promote and implement the Walk of Hope. For more information, please contact Jenna Marinelli at for details. Volunteering for the Tri-State Walk of Hope is a great way to support the hundreds of thousands of people diagnosed with infertility and have some fun! Each year we rely on the generosity of dozens of volunteers to create a very successful event for the infertility community.

To sponsor the Tri-State Walk of Hope please contact Jenna Marinelli at or Jenlene Nowak at 703.556.7172. Our sponsoring partners are very important to RESOLVE’s Walk of Hope. Your support of this event will allow RESOLVE to create a great day for all those choosing to walk with us. Plus you’ll show your clients and customers that people with infertility matter.


The Stories We Tell: Reflections from Northern California

This week has been another busy moment for The ART of Infertility. We are in Northern California, reaching out to local infertility support groups and meeting local infertility professionals to help us host an art exhibit in 2016. These meetings have been going well and we are excited about how the project has been received so far.

Maria got this great shot of the Golden Gate Bridge from the plane.

Maria got this great shot of the Golden Gate Bridge from the plane.

In preparing for this trip, we finally made a “FAQ” sheet. This sheet provides a bit more detail about the project, our history and future goals. We encourage you to download it and share it with those who may be interested. And if you are interested in having us come to your city to either interview you, host an art/writing workshop, or an exhibit, please reach out to us!

Some of the participants at our cigar box collage workshop busy at work.

Some of the participants at our cigar box collage workshop in Citrus Heights busy at work.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we have been (yet again) reminded of how powerful all of our meetings can be during our travels. For example, this past week, we met @Brave_IVF_Mama. She shared with us a bit of her story. Talking to her, we were reminded of the continued need for infertile wo/men to be advocates and resources for each other. @Brave_IVF_Mama embraces her infertility identity and serves serving as a resource for those in the infertile community. We were particularly struck when she told us about a comprehensive book review she did on children’s books about egg donation. This blog post posted a complete list of relevant books on the topic but also — pretty honestly — examines their positives and negatives. We encourage you all to check out this blog and @brave_IVF_mama as a useful and relevant resource.

Most of all, in talking to @brave_IVF_mama, we were reminded of the importance of stories. Of how having your infertility story is important. But in finding your own individual “resolve”, there are multiple stories. Stories about how you frame your decision to your friends/family. And, perhaps most significantly, stories about how you talk to your future children about their own conception story.

We left leaving this meeting feeling empowered about the ways that The ART of Infertility continues to teach us – Elizabeth and Maria – the multiple ways our own infertility network can teach us and serve as resources for honoring our own stories. We leave this blog post asking all of you, how has your infertility story evolved and changed over the days/months/years and who now is a part of this story? For Elizabeth and I, our infertility story includes all of you – our loyal and supportive followers. Hearing and sharing your stories have helped us heal and cope with our own infertility stories. We are thankful and grateful for all of your sharing. We hope that we continue to learn and grow from these experiences throughout our years.

In gratitude,

Elizabeth & Maria


Our first night in the area, in Nob Hill.