Dear Doc | Can I have children?
Q Dear Doc, I am a 40-year-old man and I am concerned that I cannot have children. I have had many relationships and have had unprotected sex, but never once did any of those women get pregnant. Although we weren't actively trying, I am not young and figured something should have happened by now. I keep being asked how comes I don't have any children and if I'm a 'man guinep'. Is there anything I can do to find out if this is true.
A I understand your concern, but when it comes to infertility, it is not so cut and dry.
Male infertility is the term used to describe when a man has trouble getting a woman pregnant. For a man to get a woman pregnant, he needs to have a normal amount of healthy sperm; what is called a 'normal sperm count'. Men who have infertility issues, may have problems with their sperm such as:
- Having no sperm at all.
- Not having enough sperm, also known as 'low sperm count'.
- Having unhealthy sperm (sperm that move too slowly or are abnormal in shape).
Reasons a man can have an abnormal sperm count include:
- A blocked vas deferens - The vas deferens, is the tube the sperm travels through to reach the penis. It is this tube that doctors cut when performing a vasectomy. Infections can cause the tube to be blocked, resulting in having no sperm in the semen.
- Low levels of testosterone.
- Genetic problems that a man may have be born with.
But in many cases it cannot be explained why a man has an abnormal sperm count.
In cases where a couple has difficulty getting pregnant, we recommend that a man be tested if a pregnancy does not happen after having unprotected sex for one year.
If you want to know if you can have children, speak with your doctor and a test called a 'sperm count' to check your sperm. This test counts your sperm and also checks how healthy they are.
If your sperm count is low, your doctor will repeat the test one or more times. If repeat tests are still abnormal, other tests will be ordered such as:
- Blood tests.
- An exam to measure the size of your testicles.
- Tests to see if there is a block in your testicles.
I might be getting post partum depression
Q Dear Doc, I recently had a baby and I think I might be getting post partum depression. I love my baby and would never hurt her, but I feel sad all the time and whenever she is taking her nap, all I seem to do is cry. Please let me know if this is normal or if I need to seek help.
A Postpartum depression is a type of depression that some women get after having a baby. Most women with postpartum depression start having symptoms within a month after giving birth. But it can take up to 12 months before a woman starts having symptoms.
After having a baby, many women get a mild type of postpartum depression called postpartum blues.
Women who have postpartum blues may have the following:
- Moodiness, irritability, or anxiety.
- Have trouble concentrating or sleeping.
- Have crying spells.
Women with postpartum blues, do not have severe symptoms, and it usually goes away within two weeks. However, for women with postpartum depression, the symptoms are more severe and last longer. The depression symptoms make you feel sad, down, and hopeless, for most of the day, on most days. Another common sign of depression is no longer enjoying or caring about things you used to like to do.
It sometimes is difficult to tell if a woman has postpartum depression, because some of the symptoms of postpartum depression can also be caused by the stress of taking care of a newborn, especially for first-time mothers.
For example, it's normal for new mothers to:
- Sleep too much or too little.
- Feel tired and lack energy.
- Have changes in their appetite, and their desire to have sex.
For women with postpartum depression they find it difficult to sleep even when their babies are sleeping, or they might have so little energy that they do not get out of bed for hours.
They also feel:
- Anxious, irritable and angry
- Guilty or overwhelmed
- Unable to care for their baby
- Like a failure as a mother
If at any time you feel like you want to hurt or kill yourself or your baby, seek medical attention immediately!
Call your doctor and tell them it is urgent.
Women who have had postpartum depression in the past are likely to get it again with another pregnancy. If you had postpartum depression before and took a medicine that helped you feel better, your doctor might recommend that you take that medicine again.