Your Man’s Extra X Chromosome Can Make You Infertile by Marriage

Way back in 2015, I posted about Klinefelter Syndrome, a condition in which a male baby is born with an extra X chromosome, sometimes more than one extra. That results in a serious shortage of testosterone. In some cases, the issues are obvious, while in other cases, they might not find out they have it until they try to father a child and discover they can’t. 

KS occurs in approximately one in 500 male births. That’s quite a few. Usually males have one X and one Y chromosome. 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.

That six-year-old post is still receiving comments. This week, Denise wrote that she and her husband had no idea he had KS until he went in for hernia surgery. The doctor asked if they were planning to have children. When they said yes, he told them it was highly unlikely because the husband had Klinefelter’s. The husband began taking large doses of testosterone to combat the KS. They adopted two kids, but the hormones turned him into such a moody, angry person that their marriage did not survive. 

I had no idea this post would inspire so many comments. KS is tough. I couldn’t say so at the time, but I was in a relationship with a man who had this syndrome. From our first lunch together, I knew he was different. He had never been married, claimed to have never had sex, and he often acted like a child, even though he was a few years old than me. I kept trying to end the relationship, but he claimed he loved me and wouldn’t back off. It was only after a neighbor who often took care of him explained about the KS that I began to understand.

Over the years, my friend often called to chat, tell lame jokes, and ask how I was. We shared meals, watched movies, and played Monopoly together. When my father was dying, this man offered soothing comfort over the phone. I told him honestly that I didn’t feel the same way he felt about me, but I treasured his innocent love, even though he called too often at all hours of day and night and even though I had to tell him he was pushing too hard. 

My friend had persistent heart problems. He had moved into an assisted living facility in a city north of here, but he was always “crying wolf.” One day he’d tell me he was dying; the next day, he’d claim to be absolutely fine. I felt a guilty relief when COVID made it impossible for him to have visitors. Too many times, I had been suckered into rushing to his side only to find out nothing was really wrong. He just wanted to see me. But the last time he told me he was very ill, I should have believed him.

The calls stopped coming before Christmas 2020. I called him repeatedly, but he never answered, and his voicemail was always full. When I phoned the place where he lived, they could only tell me that he didn’t live there anymore. I joined the people asking on his Facebook page: “Where are you? We miss you?” Eventually his sister called me from California to tell me my friend had died of heart disease.  

It is not easy to love a man with Klinefelter Syndrome. Some seem perfectly normal while others have behavioral issues and don’t do well with relationships. They will never father your children. It’s terribly sad, especially when it comes as a surprise. 

My heart goes out to Denise, Jessica, Melissa, and all the women and men dealing with this. I hadn’t expected to write about this today, but clearly there’s a need to talk about it.

Have you had any experience with Klinefelter Syndrome? Would you marry a man who had it? Let’s continue the conversation.  

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Miss these Childless by Marriage posts?

Dear friends:

Yesterday, I got a comment from someone who wondered if the discussion of Klinefelter’s Syndrome (males with two X chromosomes) was still going. He has it and was looking for someone to talk to. I got another query on the subject a few weeks ago from a woman in a relationship with KS. So let’s take another look at that post and see if there’s more to say. Men born with more than one X chromosome (along with the usual Y chromosome) have underdeveloped sexual organs, along with emotional and physical problems, including a tendency toward heart disease. Many struggle to establish and maintain relationships with women. Read more about it and the comments here.

Speaking of men, I often worry that I’m shorting the male side of the childless story. I’m a woman, most of the people in my book are women, and most of the readers who comment here are women, but childlessness by marriage is an issue for men, too. It might be even more difficult because they can’t bear children. I wrote about this a year ago and got some good comments. I’ve love to read some more about how it is for men when their women can’t or won’t make babies with them. Here’s the original post. 

Then there was Richa, whose husband told her on the second day of their marriage that he didn’t want to have children with her. So now what should she do? (Screaming comes to mind). You all responded to that one with a vengeance. Let’s take a look back and see what you all said. And Richa, if you’re out there somewhere, what happened after that?  Readers, what would you do? Here’s the link. 

That should keep you busy until my nose stops running and the first weekend of Lent is over. This feels like a lazy post, but I’m sick, plus the woman with whom I’ve been sharing my “day job” doing church music for the last 16 years just quit without notice, leaving a lot of undone work for me to do, including two Ash Wednesday services yesterday and planning all of the music for Lent and Easter. She had good reasons, and I sympathize, but yikes.

BTW, all those medical tests I had a while back showed nothing. The gastroenterologist has given up. Apparently I just have a wonky stomach. Luckily, I’m feeling better on that front. I thank all of you who expressed concern.

Oh, and it’s my birthday Saturday. It sure would be nice to have grown kids doing something special for “Mom.” Oh well. I’ve got you guys and Annie, my non-child-substitute (see last week’s post).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.