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Makes Love, Not War

I must confess that, sometimes, in the course  of my clinical practice as an andrologist, I feel like an anti-national traitor.  Indian already has more than a billion people, and  here I am, helping couples produce more  babies to add to this already humungous population figure.  Am I  doing the right thing?  Should  I not be catching and sterilizing  all the vas deferens between wen and women  who come to me asking for help to produce babies,  instead of treating them?  What difference does it makes if fifteen  percent of the population can't have children?  Don't we have enough orphan and destitute children who are in  need to nurture and  good home?  Why are people  obsessed with transmission of their own genetic material?

In certain affluent northern European  countries like Germany and Sweden, governments are actually  pleading with their citizens to produce more babies because their populations are declining. Couples are being offered special incentives to make babies!  Yet, there are not too many takers.  And here  we are, a billion people wanting to become a zillion.  The government exhorts us to 'plan' our  families, but nobody  cares. In the course of my long career as a clinical andrologist,  I have often thought of the Indian  fertility versus population  paradox.

But when I bring up this subject for discussion with peers and colleagues, they call me Gain One organ, lose another kind of traitor instead.  A traitor to andrology and reproductive medicine.  'You are going to put all of us out of business  if you go on like this, Sudhakar.  Your viewpoints are suicidal to our  bloody careers, don't you see?'  one colleague with  thick specs, who specializes in manufacturing twins and triplets, told  me.  His severe short-sightedness seemed to me to be as much figurative as literal, extending  far beyond  the merely ophthalmologic.

'You seem preoccupied, doc,' I suddenly heard  a voice.  'If this is not a good time, we can always come  again later.'

I was jolted out of my id-day reverie by the young couple in front of me.  A seated man had suddenly stood up.  Hell, now I was being made to feel  like a traitor to my patients!  Today was not my day.  It seemed more like Traitors Day.  I wondered if the  Archie's and Hallmark guys had  thought of that already.  And it was only noon yet!  I recalled what my wife had told me earlier  that morning.  She too had  alleged that I was a traitor because  I didn't  drop our daughter  to school after she  missed the school  bus.  'You only think of yourself,' the wife alleged.  'In what way is your surgery more important than my yoga class?  If the driver doesn't come one day, I have to become  the driver.'

            Ultimately, all guys are MCPs, she insinuated.

Meek or termagant, ultimately all women  are ball-breakers, I had countered.
Dog's Day was another new concept that came to mind. Again I wondered  if the Archies and Hallmark guys had  already  though of that too Finally I spoke.

'Kindly excuse my preoccupation.  I was absorbed with another  metaphysical in the fast guys and  other seminal matters .  But that's  resolved now.  Please tell me what  I may do for you.'

The Troglodytes and Gentlemen in front of me sat down again.  And began, 'Where shall I begin, doc?'
'How about starting with the primary purpose of your visit  and then working backwards, if necessary?'  I suggested, hoping he'd get the hint right  away.  That was enough  impetus for our  man.  After that, he was like a dam  whose gates had just been opened.

'For the past several months, my wife and I have just been fighting.  It's been about two-and-a-half years since we got married, and, right from the beginning, from the wedding night itself, she has been obsessed with just one thing.'

Before I could guess what  that  one thing was, the chap said, 'Producing babies.'
Shit!  My guess had turned out wrong.  I let him  continue.

'Why are women  so competitive when it comes to producing  kids, doc?  Is it some kin of disease?  My wife  is always  telling me that the so-and-sos have been married  only two years and that they already have  Monty and Mini, or that this one's gotten sex during pregnancy in just six months of marriage , and so on.  She also has a lot of inside information about what goes on in other  people's bedrooms and about their intimate sex lives.  How often they do it.  What positions  they adopt.  Which time of the month is best.  How many times per day.  It's  embarrassing for me to learn that my wife is discussing all these  things with other people.  Aren't these supposed to be intimate and personal thing?  I'm  sure that she tells everyone  what we do in our bedroom too, though she  denies it vehemently when I confront her.  I'm sure all her friends  think that she's  a fertile goddess and that I'm sure kind of sterile wimp in the bedroom.  To her, making  babies is like a contest she just  has to win. But right now, everybody else but her is winning it.'  He paused.

'The maternal instinct and yearning in women is very strong one,'  I told him,  thinking that the last prize his wife won must've been at a rangoli competition in college.  I could  understand her need to win another one,  especially this one.  There's something  about rangolis and motherhood.  They connect.  I plodded him to get on with his tale.  I had begun to  enjoy it now.

'Yeah doc, but there's a limit to everything.  Will it be the end of the world  if we don't have kids?  We'll try to have them, of course, but is that the sole purpose  of our existence?  Does everything, from morning to night, have to revolve around this?  The other day, she called me up in the office  and ordered me to come home right away .  when I asked if there was some  emergency, she  said, "yes, of course, but why don't you understand , I can't tell you  over the phone.'

'I was in the midst some chaos in the office myself, and going home was unthinkable to me.  Goddamn it, home was  twenty-sex kilometers  away!  When I  persisted with wanted to know what the matter was, she started sobbing and screaming on  the phone and told me that I didn't  care about her and  that she plans to call up her father  and go to his  house right  away.  I was now really worried.  Is there something  so serious that she  cannot tell me over the phone?  Am I being  an inconsiderate SOB?'

            He paused for breath. Everyone needs oxygen.

'Feeling like a heel, I abruptly put all work matters on hold and charged out of the office. Luckily, the afternoon traffic  was not too bad.  I kept chewing my nails and honked and snarled at a few  pedestrians  and autos en route  home.  My poor baby,  I was  saying to myself.  I hoped that nothing  calamitous had befallen her.  I would have never forgiven myself if I reached  too late and was not there in my wife's hour of need.  I was perspiring, breathing hard, and smoking incessantly.  The inside of the Carrie  was so hazy with smoke that, with the air conditioning on,  visibility was blurry.  I was coughing and  choking moreover.  I finally reached home and charged up the stairs, praying to God for the first time in many, many years.'

Interrupting  his story now would be really lousy  timing, like  coit us interrupts, I told myself , and  waited for him to resume.  This man didn't seem to be  running out of words.

'Ten doorbell rings, and there's no answer, doc.  When I tried to call my wife's mobile and the  mobile  and the home line, there was no answer.  Should I call the  cops, or ask the neighbors?  I started pounding on the door.  Still there was no answer.  Finally, I realized that I had my house keys right there in my pocket, along  with the Carrie keys.  With sweaty and shaky fingers, I turned  the key and praised the door open.  Guess what I saw, doc?'

This guy  ought  to have been writing thrillers and making movies, not babies, I thought to myself.  How could  I guess?  With  this Alfred  Hitchcock, anything was possible.  My only thought was that so far there wasn't any real andrology  discussed.
'I hope it was nothing serious ,' was all I could think of. 

'You won't believe it,  doc.  The house  was in pitch darkness.  All the curtains were drawn.  The living  area was empty.  Petrified, I tiptoed  to the bedroom, prepared  for the worst.  And what do I see?'

            He burst out laughing.

My stoic demeanour remained unchanged.  I've been around.'Doc, my wife is absolutely stark raving mad I tell you.  There  was soft music  playing in the bedroom, the lights were dim, some aromatic candles had been lit, and two  glasses.  I couldn't  see the  wife anywhere.  I had no clue about how to react to all this.  My fear had turned to shocked relief, to bewilderment, and now rage.    I pushed the bathroom door open and  went in to check.  My wife was hiding  behind the shower curtain, wearing  a sheer nightgown  and musky  perfume.  She sprang forward, threw  her arms around my neck, and part kissing me passionately.  I was surprised to note that I was actually so  relieved that I even  joined  in the fun.  My wife then grabbed  my hand and slapped a folded piece of paper on my palm.  I looked at the paper  but didn't have a clue to what it was.'

'My ovulation chart, dude.  Have ovulated!  Today's  the big day man.  We just have to do it right  here and now.  This is our best chance.'

'With that, doc, can you believe it, she peeled off all her pretensions to clothing.'
I observed  that this chap had a natural aptitude for crescendos.  I didn't want  to interrupt his climax.

'I succumbed to the enchantress in her even as I was  cursing myself  for having left the office so irresponsibly  and having myself  for being so weak.  I had lost both at work and at home.  "Let me take a quick shower first," I mustered. I recalled that in the  Housie  games  I've watched so often at clubs, there always was a Lucky Loser.  That day, it was my turn.'
I once again thought  of the Archie's and Hallmark Guys.  'Loser's Day'!

'This was three months ago, doc, and she still hasn't conceived.  That's why we are here.  We are  fighting with each  other everyday.  Neither feels  like making love any more, no matter what.  Nonetheless, my wife is desperate to get pregnant at any cost.  How can I make love to her, doc, when she's at  war with me all the time?  We have  been seeing specialists  for more  than a year and have been told that all our tests  are completely normal.  Some have advise  a test tube  baby.  One doc  asked me to undergo an operation.  My relatives say that we should  try alternative medicine.  We don't know whom to follow, what to believe.  We are at the end of the road.'
After a detailed talk and a perusal of all their reports, I concluded that theirs was a classical case of overkill.  Too much  anxiety, too much investigation.  I decided  that these guys  needed  a break from all this.  I recommended to them  that they  lay off all plans to have a baby for the  next several months  and just enjoy sex   themselves and their sex lives all over again like newlyweds.  No tests.  No treatments.  I set  them a deadline of six months.  'After six months, if we don't see any progress, we'll get aggressive,' I assured them.

I didn't hear from them  for  several  months after that.  I had almost forgotten about them.  Then one day, after more than a year, I got a call from Mr Hitchcock.

'You  were absolutely  right, doc!  My wife's due to deliver in another  four months  or so.  I just thought I should inform you.  Thanks so much for everything.'

My Belgian professor's  words came to mind.  'Remember  one thing Sudhakar,' he had once told me, 'Sometimes, in infertility, doing nothing is everything.'
I couldn't agree  more.  The Hitchcock's were proof paramount.

Take Home Message:

Infertility  is defined as an  inability  to conceive after one to one-and-a-half years  of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse .  Only after that period  must an infertility evaluation being.  Unfortunately, many people are unaware of this and seek treatment much  sooner.  This leads to a lot of unnecessary anxiety, emotional, mental and relationship  strains, and needless  expenditure.  All this can be avoided  with proper education.  Further  information on male  infertility  is available  on http://www.IndiaInfertility.com