Assisted reproduction often involves a sperm sample. A sperm sample often involves ejaculation. What's that like in a lab?
Often I hear things in the course of interviewing that don't fit into my main story, but it feels like valuable information. A few times over the years, I've interviewed men who have had to produce sperm on demand. What's that like?
Below are two very brief observations that were shared with me. In each case, the men raised the issue unprompted — as though they needed me to get just how weird it was for them.
Is it time for an office redesign?
"It's a weird... it's an unnatural environment. Do you know what I mean? You're in that room, doing that act, and you can hear people in the adjoining offices or in the lab — speaking. And you wonder: can they hear you?"
"That first panel was one of the most awkward experiences of my life. So I get the requisition, but there was only one lab in town that could do sperm panels. When I talked with them, they were like, 'Well you've got this one-hour window that you can bring the sample in. We need the sample within ten minutes of its being produced.' But it was a 15-minute drive! Without traffic!
"So they said, 'It's okay, you can just come in.' It's just the regular lab downtown here. 'Just come in.' I get there and they give me a cup and they point me to the handicapped washroom down the hall. What? They go, 'No that's fine.' Oh.
"It was awful. It's hilarious to me now, but at the time, I'm like, this feels wrong on so many levels! And you can hear people walking down the hallway, just chatting with each other!"
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