Can you love a man with too many X chromosomes?


Have you ever heard of Klinefelter Syndrome? Neither had I until last week. It’s relevant here because men who have it are usually sterile.
Klinefelter occurs when a male baby is born with an extra X chromosome, sometimes more than one. Usually males have one X and one Y. Females have two X’s. That extra X wreaks havoc with the boy’s system. The sexual characteristics that usually come with puberty come late, if at all. They have small testicles, sometimes grow breasts, sometimes have higher voices and don’t grow facial hair. They may seem more feminine than other boys. There are other aspects of the syndrome, such as emotional and cognitive delays, personality problems, weak muscles and a tendency to develop osteoporosis and bad teeth. The symptoms can be treated to a certain extent with high doses of testosterone, but hormone treatment does not restore the ability to produce sperm.
I recently read a book called Living with My X, written by Stephen Malherbe, a South African man who has Klinefelter Syndrome. Well into his teens, he still looked and sounded like a little boy and didn’t know why. After he got the diagnosis and was treated with testosterone, he grew to normal size and went through a late puberty, but his problems were not over. Malherbe has been married and has had many relationships with women. Most of those relationships failed, partly because he had trouble communicating and partly because sooner or later he had to tell the women he was infertile. The first woman he told was his fiancée a couple weeks before the wedding. He shouldn’t have waited that long, of course, but how do you say something like that? They went ahead with the wedding, but the marriage didn’t last long. Neither did his second marriage.
Most of the women he told about his problem said it was all right. They could adopt children. But sometimes they realized that wasn’t going to be enough. Sometimes his personality got to them. He was always leaping into new schemes, unable to sit still. He has also suffered a variety of physical problems stemming from his Klinefelter Syndrome. In later years, he has found someone to love, but Klinefelter continues to affect his life.

Klinefelter Syndrome and other genetic variations can manifest themselves in various ways. They do not always cause infertility, but KS usually does.

Here’s a shocker. Approximately one in 500 male babies is born with one or more extra X chromosomes. The degree to which it affects them varies. Some have no idea until they want to have children and discover they’re infertile. What if a woman falls in love with such a man? What if he can’t give you children but he’s the sweetest person you have ever met? What if you don’t find out until you’ve been married for a few years?
There are a lot of reasons people don’t have children. This is one most folks don’t know anything about. You can find more information at the Klinefelter Syndrome support site.
Have you ever known anyone with Klinefelter Syndrome? I’d love to hear your comments about this.
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22 thoughts on “Can you love a man with too many X chromosomes?

  1. My husband and I found out about his extra X chromosome when we were trying to get pregnant a few years into our marriage. Of course I can love someone with an extra X. I don’t remember my marriage vows being dependent on the existence of sperm or a perfect genetic makeup. I believe they involved for better or worse and in sickness or health. Is being CNBC difficult? Very much so. And so are his health problems. But, I wouldn’t trade him for anyone or thing. My husband is a wonderful man who was dealt a tough life situation. He has shown amazing strength and resilience and I become more proud of him every day. While the extra X is a part of his life, it does not define who he is. My husband is a hard working farm supervisor, tractor & truck aficionado, a Christian, a faithful family member, and amazingly manly husband. Thank you for noting how common (1/500) this syndrome is and yet how little it is acknowledged. When diagnosed this was a double whammy for us. Not only did we find out he had a lifetime of medical issues to deal with, but the door to children slammed shut. Most infertility blogs, fb sites and support groups deal with the IVF cycle and other treatments. Those are not even an option in this situation. We had to face the fact that there was not even hope and almost no social support to lean on. We grieved the loss and by God’s grace have been able to embrace the amazing and beautifully untraditional life he has planned for us.

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  2. Good Morning,

    I have been married to an XXY man for over 25 years. I too accepted the diagnosis at the time of planning a family. Due to total infertility we opted at the time to have a family member donate sperm. This brought us a wonderful baby boy (now 16) and joy (between husband and wife) for a little while. I wish I had a wonderful story to tell, but truth be told, as my husband is not a man of faith, communication or emotional attachment capability the marriage is in extreme distress. I tried to be as supportive as possible. I even thought, heck.. we could have the time of our lives never worrying about birth control. Truth is part of the effort needs to be made by the other partner and how much they can relate to the fact the wife is going through it with them. I accepted the untraditional road God placed in front of us. I would do this again for the right relationship because it was a beautiful thing to do, but the emotional detachment these men go through (which is part of the reason they have such relationship issues) is devastating to those standing by their side. It is also an awful crippling thing to thing to live through when you go down the road to bring joy and happiness to someone else s world to never have the emotional connection with that person you were willing and happy to do it for.

    Wife of XXY above is very lucky her spouse is a man of faith. I believe that is half the battle and may her and his relationship be blessed everyday! I know how strong a woman she is because there are many many challenges that go along with XXY. Many women are faced with finding out about Klinefelter’s at the time of family planning. Yes this is devastating news to the man diagnosed however it is also life changing for the woman. They are faced with the choice of never having children with the man they vowed their life with OR finding other methods (as we did) to experience the fullness of who they are. I’ve yet to find an “Al a non” support group for the spouses of XXY men to support the woman behind the man.

    I read a bit of your book “Childless through Marriage” and I have to say I can relate to alot of the feelings you experienced . I went through years of everyone around me having children. Feeling those feelings. I was married 13 years before we even started trying. They were extremely hard years. Baby Showers, co workers having babies, families having babies. Then the diagnosis. Women suffer the struggles of this diagnosis alongside the man, those are not just earthshattering words given to the man, it is also given to the woman. The women need to have a support group forum. Somewhere they feel comfortable to express their confusion, fears struggles and joys. I am on the KSA website forums and I’ve yet to find the support. I am considering starting one.

    I do know my husband loves my son. My experience is that he related to him much more as a child. As soon as my son became a young man, in need of the male role model, my husband had problems relating and doesn’t even know how to try. He would do anything for him, but as I said before, the emotional support or connectedness is just not something some of these guys are capable of.

    Its a heartbreaking experience for a marriage to endure.

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  3. Hello, thankful to have found this and hoping that it is still current. I am now with a man with klinefelter. I’ve known him in a friendship capacity for many years. We started dating 2 years ago and at first, it was nice just to have someone whom treated me like a queen (after many horrible relationships)…now I wonder if that was a selfish motive on my part. I love him more than any man I’ve everead loved, he is my best friend. However, I find that that special love that a woman has for a man is not there. I believe itseems because of klinefelter. Most of the masculine traits that attracts a woman to a man are just not there…broad shoulders, nice teeth, not wide hips, no breasts, genitalia approximately sized for age, facial hair….those things are not there. When we first started dating I knew he looked ‘different’ but I didn’t know why until he brought it up. Then, at a family event (and many timeso thereafter) someone said is that a woman? Things changed from there and although we are still together, I am struggling with attraction. May seem superficial, but I’m struggling with the type of love a man needs from a woman. I thought perhaps reading other posts and getting feedback would help in some way….

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    • Mrs. Tee, not too long ago, I dated a man with Klinefelter’s, too. As with your guy, he treated me well, but I needed that maleness that was missing. I had to break up with him. Ultimately I think you’ll find you too need more.
      For readers who don’t know, Klinefelter’s is a condition where a male is born with an extra X chromosome. His male sexual aspects never fully develop. These men are usually infertile.

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      • My post is responding to Mrs. Tees response. I have been married to a man with Klinefelters XXY for 30 years. My marriage is at its end which is sad news but I can say I have struggled many years with this exact issue. I found it difficult to bond with him as well. Great guy..Sweet wouldnt hurt a fly would help anyone…but the low sex drive was difficult and left me strressed and struggling. If your partner is open minded and could go for help about it… it may change. My husband was not willing to do this..so ultimately it did split us apart. I am more than willing to speak with anyone about this. You have my permission to share my email.

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      • Like i said i was fertile … I will say later in life i felt i had a fem side to me… however need to chat with a doctor.. my issue could be a chemical unbalance.. I do have breasts and not much body hair.. very small in that area as well….

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      • I agree too that there is a detectable fem side. Some women are perfectly fine with that and others have a difficult time. These are the struggles LA partners go through which is why to have support is so important.

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    • Ms Tee, yes these are very legitimate struggles from the “partners” point of view. I struggled with many of these myself. I found the lack of sex drive very difficult. I also found the emotional detatchment even worse. I know my husband always refused therapy. It is not easy and I understand the need to find “partner” support. My personal email is pkmoo2299@gmail.com. feel free to personally reach me. I am not a doctor but I am a good ear to listen.

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    • Hi Ms. Tee.
      I understand this in many ways. I had many of the same feelings myself. My husband was never looked at as “female,” but all the other characteristics I have experienced. It is true if this man is someone you will spend your life with, you will need to support him. It is critical for the relationship to survive that you both work through the obstacles. I will say BOTH must focus and work on them. Some with KS are very open and talkative and others (like my husband) will not ever speak of it. Bottom line open communication..do not suppress your feelings and know we are here to help and support you as well. Partners have their own stress related to this and you will need support too. My cell# is 973-370-3553..or email at Pkmoo2299@gmail.com. I’m not a doctor but someone to help and listen as i have lived it.

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  4. I’m currently trying to get my husband to go to the doctor in order to either confirm or rule out KS. He doesn’t want to talk about it and definitely does not want me to talk to anyone we know about it. I’m going to have to talk to someone. I’m worried about his health aside from how it affects reproductive health.

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      • Ila,
        I understand your concerns and have been married to a man 30 years with XXY. There is an organization that provides a lot of information about Klinefelter Syndrome. The Support Group is mostly for those with Klinefelter’s. The website is Klinefeltersyndrome.org. I understand the emotional detach you are referring to as well. It’s very difficult when you can’t seem to break the barrier they put up. Try the website. It will help with the medical questions you may have. As a partner of one with KFS, I know it’s hard to find partner/spousal support. I am not a doctor by any means but can definitely lend an ear to your side of the fence. Chin up! Keep trying.

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    • Can relate to your concerns… I have not been diagnosed but am about to chat with my doctor. however we did have children… that is what confuses me

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  5. I am a partner of a KS Male. I have found this very difficult to cope with. Our story began about 4 years ago when my partner suffered a major stroke which he is still recovering from. I kept him positive during this time because i believed we still had a life to live. I lost the person he was. He has not worked since and I have to support us both. Two years ago it was confirmed he had KS. This has devastated me. I kept strong during the stroke because i believed we still could get on with our lives , but since the diagnosis, i have struggled to cope. It is like everything has come crashing down on me. I feel very alone as he has not fully understood the full impact of this diagnosis but i have stood by him as he needs a lot of support during this.

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    • Hi Louise,
      I am very sorry you are going through such a difficult time. I do understand how this feels as my husband was dealing with his diagnosis and the death of his father, with whom he was VERY close too..worked side by side everyday, at the same time. I named this my “double whammy”. I understand the part where you feel your husband doesn’t understand the “depth” of what’s being told to him. I can only speak for my husband, mine withdrew. ” Checked out” of reality. It’s a way he coped. I am not a psychologist by any means, but I can always be an ear to listen to you. My email is pkmoo2299@gmail.com. you may email me directly. Also the organization I worked withere for my husband is Klinefelters.org . Stefan Schwarz was a wonderful man, dealing with KS himself and has guided me during the most difficult times. Louise I can even talk to you about the infertility part of it. I understand that devastation too. Email me and I will be happy to tell you my story.it may be inspiring. I hope to hear from you soon. Smile..there are others who do understand.

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  6. My wife did…. I have had no issues… the long legs did not happen and we had children…. my breasts and small penis was not an issue…. I enjoy being small and not like most make use of it….Nudge Nudge

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  7. Neil thank you for bringing the male perspective in. Every couple faces the challenges differently. It’s wonderful to have perspective. I pray all find the help they seek. It’s a difficult thing to find out and support is key.

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