When Eric and Michelle Nielson were married in 2011, they knew they wanted to have children.
Six months after getting married, they knew they were ready to start trying to grow their family.
Unfortunately, things weren't going as planned. And two years later, not much had changed.
"We had been trying for kids, but nothing was happening," Nielson said. "We finally got the doctors involved to see if we could figure out what was going on."
Initially, both Nielson and his wife underwent assessment for underlying issues that could decrease fertility rates. The tests showed that Nielson's sperm weren't functioning properly. His doctors prescribed Clomid, a medication that not only helps increase sperm production but also improves their functionality.
After four unsuccessful rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI), Nielson and his wife knew they needed to look for another solution.
"At this point, we determined that the only thing we could do to get pregnant was in vitro fertilization (IVF)," Nielson said. "So, we did a few rounds of IVF but were still unsuccessful."
The doctors then ran more tests on Nielson's wife and discovered that she had uterine fibroids.
"First thing the doctors did was put Michelle on a medication that would shrink the fibroids on her uterus so they were small enough to be surgically removed," Nielson said. "However, the medication shrunk the fibroids so much that they were too small to remove."
Although removal was not possible, the reduced size of the fibroids made it possible to try another round of IVF. Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful.
"At this point, we were out of eggs, so we had to do another retrieval," Nielson said. "And this time it all worked really well—between the medication I had been taking and a very successful egg retrieval, we were able to get a few viable embryos."
Nielson and his wife went in for another round of IVF. Sadly, it was—yet again—unsuccessful.
"We found out that the fibroids on Michelle's uterus had grown larger," Nielson said. "This time, the doctors were able to go in and remove them."
Nielson and his wife then went in for a fifth round of IVF.
"Fifth time's the charm," Nielson said. "After nearly nine years of fertility treatments, we finally got our baby boy. He's now 10 months old. He is the most adorable little thing—he is hitting all of his benchmarks and is super strong. Everyone is happy, healthy, and doing great."
Even though the journey wasn't easy, Nielson and his wife were able to keep their chins up along the way.
"We've hit rock bottom, and then we found out that rock bottom had a basement, and the basement had a sub-basement," Nielson said. "It was a difficult process, and we just kept trying what we knew we could do. There was lots of prayer and lots of tears. Our baby is here and I'm so grateful he is, even though I haven't slept in months."
They also have viable embryos remaining and hope to be able to have more children.
"Honestly, I'm thrilled to be where we are and to have hope for even more kids in the future," Nielson said. "And this little guy was totally worth it. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat."
Nielson and his wife aren't the only ones celebrating the news. Nielson's doctor, Jim Hotaling, MD, MS, FECSM, is pleased with the result.
In addition to being a board-certified urologic surgeon, Hotaling is the director of the Men's Health Clinic at U of U Health. He is also the leading expert in male infertility in the Mountain West. He and his team see more than 400 new infertility patients each year.
"It's great to see patients like Eric get the best outcome possible," Hotaling said. "We were able to optimize his hormones from a male fertility standpoint and help him have success in growing his family."
Male Fertility Treatments at University of Utah Health
Infertility is a disease or condition of the reproductive system that affects an estimated 10 to 15 percent of couples trying to conceive in the United States. Male infertility occurs in approximately one-third of all infertility cases. The remaining cases arise from insufficiency in both partners, or from a cause of infertility that simply cannot be explained.
Male fertility is an important focus of Men's Health Services at University of Utah Health. Infertility treatment is one of the fastest advancing fields in medical science. As an academic medical center, U of U Health is the leader in bringing its patients the latest advancements in infertility testing.