Healthy Expectations: Chesterfield couple breaks the silence of male infertility

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — Shawn and Jamie Jarrard really like Mondays. They are both often home and can enjoy each others’ company after a few painful years.

“The isolation will kill you,” says Jamie. “It will just eat you alive if you don’t talk about it.”

A few months after getting married, they decided to work on starting a family. They tried naturally on their own and then turned to a drug for Jamie’s polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition that causes a hormonal imbalance.

After four and a half years of not conceiving, the Jarrards decided to get more aggressive.

“The first question they asked us at the fertility specialist was, ‘Have you ever had Shawn tested?'” Jamie remembers. “We sent him for the semen analysis not thinking anything would come back different.”

Adds Shawn, “And that’s where it all changed.”

In September 2016, the Jarrards found out Shawn has azoospermia. His body produces no sperm, and the couple would never be able to get pregnant.

The American Society of Reproductive Medicine estimates it affects about one percent of all men. According to the National Institutes of Health, male factor infertility is an issue for roughly a third of couples who are struggling to conceive.

“I shut down,” says Shawn. “For a while, you feel like less of a man. I had to go through the pain of somebody announces a pregnancy and, ‘Oh, I can’t do that.’ It hit my heart a little raw.”

It took about six months, but finally Shawn was ready to open up.

He and Jamie are honest about their challenges in a blog and connect with other couples walking a similar path.

“It’s like taking the basket off a lamp,” says Jamie. “It’s like you’re hiding this pain, and how can you really heal if you’re not talking about it?”

In their desire to start a family, the Jarrards found and are pursuing a relatively new option for couples who have challenges conceiving.

8News is continuing to follow their story and will share more of their journey in an upcoming Healthy Expectations report.

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