Infertility struggle

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JEFFERSON CITY – Starting a family did not come easily for Jake and Sara Hopkins.

After their marriage, the Jefferson City couple tried to conceive a child. And they tried, and they tried, and they tried again, with no success. Finally, they decided to take action.

“Instead of just waiting and waiting, because obviously we were newlyweds and we wanted to have a newborn as soon as possible, we both decided to go get checked out,” Hopkins said.

What the couple discovered was that Hopkins had a varicocele, an abnormal enlargement in the scrotum - a condition that affects 10 to 15 percent of all men and is usually harmless. But in Jake Hopkins’ case, it left him infertile.

After seeing a number of urologists in the area, the couple met Dr. Clay Mechlin, who was the first to recommend surgery.

“Clearly he had a straightforward case of a varicocele repair and so we were able to quickly fix that problem,” Mechlin said. “Most of the time, in about six to eight months, we see a significant improvement in fertility and that’s what we saw in him.”

The surgery to repair a varicocele is outpatient and takes roughly 45 minutes per side. The recovery involves two weeks of light activity.

Hopkins surgery was successful, and the couple had their first child, Harper, earlier this year.

For approximately one-third of infertile couples, the issue lies with the male, according to Medicine Plus. Because of this, Mechlin said, it is important for both partners to get checked.

“If a couple is having difficulty and [the female] goes to see her gynecologist, also make sure that the male gets evaluated and tested because there could be other health concerns that we could fix, and very correctable causes of male infertility,” Mechlin said.

He currently performs his surgeries at Boone Hospital, but there are a number of other locations in mid-Missouri that offer infertility treatment options for men.

Despite the time and money spent on finding a solution, the Hopkins said their efforts more than paid off.

“I come from a large family of six, and so family members mean a lot to me and so I think nothing is better than having a family, a close family,” Hopkins said. “I’m very proud to be a dad.”