Doctor Bastuba explains if men with spinal cord injuries can still have children.
A male spinal cord injured patient, a wonderful human being, in his early 30s with a wife who is 27, this male suffered an injury, like many young males do, a traumatic injury that left him paralyzed from the sort of the mid-waist down. He has some feeling in his testicles, but really nothing else. He was not able to ejaculate or have fluid come out of the tip of his penis as a result of his injury, but he and his wonderful young wife wanted to start a family together.
We ultimately decided to go directly to his testicle and remove a small portion of tissue to try to extract sperm from it. This is known as testicular sperm extraction. To many people it sounds impossible, but it’s something we do on a daily basis.
In this particular male, when we went to get sperm from his testicle we found that he had sperm present, but it was in low numbers. The couple were able to initiate a pregnancy and they got their family started a few years ago. Now they want baby number two.
We did further testing on him and he had an imbalance in his hormones. We started him on a product known as Arimidex. This is a product that adjusts that TE ratio, and lo and behold he had a tremendous improvement in his sperm production such that when we went back to find sperm, we found much more sperm of higher quality and now we are not only able to remove sperm for fresh use at time of in vitro fertilization, but we could freeze it so that now in the future when they want a baby, we will simply go to our sperm bank, make a withdrawal, unfreeze a specimen, and the couple can do in vitro fertilization with that now as many times as they desire and have as large a family as they desire.
And maybe that’s another myth that following a spinal cord injury couples can’t have babies. In my world, that male generally has the same chance of having a child as any other male. It just maybe a little bit more of work to get to the sperm and get it to work for us, but almost always we can find sperm and the couple can go on to have a pregnancy.
About Dr. Martin D. Bastuba: