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Information I wish I didn't have
May 8, 2014 11:36 AM   Subscribe

I think a friend's husband may have had a vasectomy. They're trying to conceive. Help?

I have reasonably good friend (Annie, say) who is in her late 20s and trying to conceive with her husband, who is in his late 40s. He has children from a previous marriage. They've been trying to conceive for about a year without luck, and she is very, very worried that something is wrong with her.

I met this friend through a mutual friend (we'll call her Becca), and we're all close. Becca knew Annie's husband before the they started dating. Becca recently confided that she's almost certain the husband has had a vasectomy.

Becca remembers a semi-drunken conversation (Annie was not present) where he was discussing having had a vasectomy. Another friend was there who remembers the conversation the same way. Because it was many years ago and they were drinking, Becca describes herself as reasonably sure, but not absolutely positive.

I hardly know the husband, and this is normally the kind of thing that I would stay waaaaay away from. However, the stakes just seem too high here. I know how much Annie wants to conceive. I know how crazy she's making herself worrying and worrying.

I've discussed it with Becca, she believes that Annie is a shoot-the-messenger type, and that it would end their friendship if she said something, without changing the situation. I suggested saying something to the husband, but Becca thinks he's a little scary and is reluctant. Fair enough.

One option we've discussed is just encouraging Annie to have her husband's fertility evaluated after a year of not conceiving. However, it sounds like before they got married, they agreed that they'd try to conceive, and if it wasn't in the cards, they'd just go with that. So I suspect that he won't be willing to pursue testing. I know how sad that outcome would make her, and I get sad and angry on her behalf when I imagine it happening not as a result of actual infertility, but because her husband is lying to her on the largest possible scale.

Is there something I can or should do? I can't just tell Annie without outing Becca as the source of the information. Is there something Becca can or should do? I normally prefer to mind my own business, but that's not sitting right with me on this one. If I was in Annie's shoes I would want to know.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (50 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
However, it sounds like before they got married, they agreed that they'd try to conceive, and if it wasn't in the cards, they'd just go with that.

For all they know, one of them could have an easily fixable problem preventing conception. Going to get your fertility checked doesn't mean you have to then go do IVF.

You REALLY SUPER DUPER do NOT know this man has had a vasectomy. But if your friend is worried "that something is wrong with her" you should absolutely urge her and her husband to get checked out.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:41 AM on May 8 [5 favorites]


Stay out of it.

If Annie comes to you, you can encourage them to get their fertility tested, because that's a thing that a friend can do no matter what. Other than that you're talking about going to her with multiple-years-old gossip about a pretty serious issue. To a reasonably good friend whose husband you barely know.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:42 AM on May 8 [25 favorites]


Is there something I can or should do?

No and no. Definitely not.

If I was in Annie's shoes I would want to know.

You'd want to know that a half-remembered, long-ago drunken conversation, relayed through two or three degrees of separation, entailed her husband talking about someday maybe wanting a vasectomy? I doubt she'd really want people meddling in an especially intimate part of her relationship, which is already extremely emotionally fraught for her, on such a flimsy pretext.

Also, not to put too fine a point on it, but you don't actually have any information here. Please don't give your friend the impression that you do.
posted by clockzero at 11:44 AM on May 8 [11 favorites]


The problem will resolve itself. Plus, it's not your problem.

If the couple wants to have children they will try and eventually they will end up getting some tests to determine whether there is a problem. At that point any issues related to the husband's anatomy will come out. You don't need to worry about it.
posted by alms at 11:45 AM on May 8 [5 favorites]


Because it was many years ago and they were drinking, Becca describes herself as reasonably sure, but not absolutely positive.

That is not "reasonably sure" by a long shot, it's gossip. Hell, it's worse than gossip, as it's drunken gossip from several years ago.

Stay way out of this. It really just sounds like Becca is trying to start shit for whatever reason.
posted by griphus at 11:46 AM on May 8 [10 favorites]


Vasectomies can be reversed. You have very little information here and it's all secondhand from an unreliable witness and it's really not your place to bring it up, even if you have only the best intentions.
posted by payoto at 11:47 AM on May 8 [23 favorites]


The half-remembered drunk conversation could easily have been about him thinking about having a vasectomy, or about a friend of his who had had one. I would in no way count that as a reliable source of information.
Memory is a strange, unreliable thing, and it's easy to convince yourself you remember something a particular way even if that's not correct, even if the thing you're remembering is relatively recent - and then several years later that initial "convincing yourself" has solidified into concrete fact that that was what happened.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:49 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]


Here is another scenario. The husband did have a vasectomy. Annie knew this when they got married. He then had it reversed so that they could try to have children together. So they have been trying for a year and nothing has happened yet.

And then you step in to imply that the husband is living a lie?
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 11:49 AM on May 8 [34 favorites]


This is none of your business, or your friend's business either.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:57 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]


Do not talk to your friend about her husband's penis. Never. For all you know, he had it reversed, or she knows, or... dozens of things, none of which you want to be involved in. Leave it alone.
posted by Houstonian at 12:01 PM on May 8 [6 favorites]


Absolutely no good can come of you getting involved in this situation.
posted by zachlipton at 12:02 PM on May 8


Stay the hell out of it.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:14 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


Just another voice echoing the consensus: Not your business. Nothing good can come of your involvement. Let it play out on its own. Worry about yourself.
posted by jdroth at 12:16 PM on May 8


There's a lot of range of medical treatment before getting to really invasive stuff like IVF. I don't think there's anything wrong here with encouraging your friend to actually go talk to a doctor about this just to see, and have her husband do likewise, but "I sort of remember something somebody said to me once when we'd been drinking that was not complimentary and now I'm going to gossip about it" is something that strikes me as just about as unpleasant as what you're suggesting.

But for late twenties, I've known a couple people who've tried for a year or two before it happened. There might, for that matter, be something wrong with her--not necessarily something dire, but something that's throwing her body off and could be treatable. "Modern medicine is a wonderful thing" is a good, productive sort of direction to encourage a friend who's struggling. Stick with the good and productive.
posted by Sequence at 12:19 PM on May 8


The only penis you need to be worried about is your own or the one going inside you.
This is radioactive and cannot end well.
If Annie asks for advice, just keep repeating the "Maybe both of you should get checked out" party line until they stop asking or figure all this out.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 12:20 PM on May 8 [7 favorites]


Stay out of this. But also-- Seymour Zamboni's explanation of this situation is SO much more plausible than what you're afraid is going on. Why do you think you made the logical jump to "Annie's husband has been lying to her constantly for at least a year and toying with her emotions and knowingly preventing her from ever having children"? Are you and Becca trawling for drama, or is the husband already established as a terrible person, or what? Is this actually a 'how to help my friend Annie who is in an abusive marriage' question?
posted by moonlight on vermont at 12:21 PM on May 8 [7 favorites]


If Annie discusses this situation with you, you can say, "Gosh, what did the sperm analysis say? Oh, you say you haven't had one? It'll cost like $50 and is non-intrusive, seems like a no-brainer, huh?"

If she doesn't discuss these things with you, say nothing. Not your business.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:27 PM on May 8 [23 favorites]


If you somehow convey the information to her and it's accurate, then what?
posted by theora55 at 12:28 PM on May 8


I've had a friend like Becca. At first, she raised my anxiety level about all our mutual friends, one by one, because there was something like this about to explode in each friend's life, that was impossible to bring up. I was genuinely deeply concerned for my friends and so embarrassed by having the information at all.

Then I noticed my mutual-with-Becca friends being really quiet and weird around me and asking if I was OK. Turns out my Becca took something innocuous I said and twisted it very creatively into something untrue that would be humiliating to me if it were true. When I confronted her about what I actually said and what she spread around, she was all "but you said..." and was clearly not sorry. I confronted her about her series of smears of our friends and she was all "but I heard..." and "I thought I saw..." and suddenly there is much less drama in my life now that I spend much less time with her.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 12:33 PM on May 8 [35 favorites]


i wouldn't touch this with a ten foot pole or an eleven foot swede. sergeant schultz all the way.

how do you think annie's husband will react if he finds out you've been talking about his dick on the internet?
posted by bruce at 12:33 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


Wait, we're talking about second-hand information wherein the person you heard this from got this information -- that they're not 100% positive about -- in a drunken conversation many years ago?

Stay out of it. This is not information you wish you didn't have. This is idle gossip.
posted by Sara C. at 12:35 PM on May 8


Becca's a pot-stirrer. People like that need to put up or shut up, mostly the latter. "Becca, when are you going to tell Annie about this vasectomy? Why aren't you doing the right thing?"
posted by Sunburnt at 12:35 PM on May 8


Your thread title is: Information I wish I didn't have. Luckily, your wish came true. You don't have any relevant information about this situation at all.
posted by yoink at 12:38 PM on May 8 [12 favorites]


I normally prefer to mind my own business, but that's not sitting right with me on this one.

If you're ok with putting your feelings ahead of Annie, her husband and Becca, I'd say go for it and tell Annie. Sure, you'd probably destroy your relationship with all three and others who find out what you did, but hey, at least it'll be sitting right with you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:38 PM on May 8


Move on, nothing to see here.

And keep Becca at arm's length, she's shit-disturber in a big way.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:54 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


Hell, it's worse than gossip, as it's drunken gossip from several years ago.

Drunken, destructive, poisonious gossip. For you, her, everyone the subject is raised with.

Consider the possibilities. There was or was not a vasectomy. If there was, it was or was not reversed. The wife does or does not know about it.

What are the possibilities, and what could you possibly accomplish by bringing this up? If it's false you at the bare minimum make her realize you traffic in rumors. At worst you create unfounded suspicion and dissent in a marriage already dealing with some stress. The "best case" where you're not completely wrong you have now revealed a huge deception between two people.

I'm not dismissing that deception as okay, were it to exist, but quite frankly I don't see how it would ever exist in a vacuum. If this person would be deceptive in this way then it's not the only thing he's hiding from her and it's not the most recent one. That chicken will come home to roost on its own without you gambling with someone else's life, and the fact that it would just mean she doesn't have kids with a deceiver is a positive aspect.

Butt out and stop talking about your friends like this. And examine why you're willing to think something this awful about this man and what that says about your opinion of him and the woman who would partner with him.
posted by phearlez at 12:59 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


I'm going to slightly disagree with the crowd here, but only because your friend Annie seems so distressed by her perceived infertility.

Do not, do not, do not, mention anything about the hearsay regarding her husband's nuts. But. Sit down with her next time she expresses her fears and ask her if you can help her come up with a plan to tackle them. Step one: speaking to a specialist about their trying to conceive.

If there is anything to the story, let the doctors figure it out.
posted by lydhre at 1:03 PM on May 8 [5 favorites]


Tell your friend to go to teh doctor with her husband and if she asks why, tell her because that's what people giving themselves anxiety over percieved physical ailments do to fix the problem.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:41 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


If I was in Annie's shoes I would want to know.

I would too, and generally speaking, I am in favor of full disclosure between close friends. However, I would avoid framing the issue definitively in favor of Becca and against the husband. I would simply say something along the lines of, "Becca told me such and such so I find myself in a bad position where either Becca is spreading a very vicious rumor behind your back, or your husband is lying about something of enormous importance to you... I hope it's just faulty memory on Becca's part but I thought you should know".

Also, contrary to everyone above, I am not so sure my money is 100% on Becca being a meddlesome troublemaker. Perhaps my reading of the situation is colored by the 20-year age difference but from what I have personally seen of these couplings, the (older) man will say pretty much anything to avoid having to sex a woman his own age. I would not be surprised if Becca did not mis-remember what the husband told her after all.

(I am sure there are exceptions, I am just talking about May-December couples I know personally).
posted by rada at 1:59 PM on May 8 [3 favorites]


oh my god this is not something you should butt-in to.
posted by Blisterlips at 2:03 PM on May 8


Just wanted to add a couple observations that I think a lot of people upthread are missing out on. One, Annie is clearly sharing a whole lot of details about her attempts to conceive with you, so from her perspective, you ARE a close friend and this is NOT "none of your business". Two, having another friend confirm that she was privy to the same conversation and heard the same thing greatly decreases the chances that Becca made the whole thing up (i.e. Bentobox's highly upvoted comment does not apply).
posted by rada at 2:23 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


Have you noticed all the uncertainty you state in your story?


I think a friend's husband may have had a vasectomy. They're trying to conceive. Help?

...I met this friend through a mutual friend (we'll call her Becca), and we're all close. Becca knew Annie's husband before the they started dating. Becca recently confided that she's almost certain the husband has had a vasectomy.

Becca remembers a semi-drunken conversation (Annie was not present) where he was discussing having had a vasectomy. Another friend was there who remembers the conversation the same way. Because it was many years ago and they were drinking, Becca describes herself as reasonably sure, but not absolutely positive.

I hardly know the husband, and this is normally the kind of thing that I would stay waaaaay away from. However, the stakes just seem too high here. I know how much Annie wants to conceive. I know how crazy she's making herself worrying and worrying.

I've discussed it with Becca, she believes that Annie is a shoot-the-messenger type, and that it would end their friendship if she said something, without changing the situation. I suggested saying something to the husband, but Becca thinks he's a little scary and is reluctant. Fair enough.

One option we've discussed is just encouraging Annie to have her husband's fertility evaluated after a year of not conceiving. However, it sounds like before they got married, they agreed that they'd try to conceive, and if it wasn't in the cards, they'd just go with that. So I suspect that he won't be willing to pursue testing. I know how sad that outcome would make her, and I get sad and angry on her behalf when I imagine it happening not as a result of actual infertility, but because her husband is lying to her on the largest possible scale.


Before you ever accuse a person of lying to his or her spouse--especially about something as serious as this--you need to have extremely solid, extremely incontrovertible facts in hand. And when I say "solid" and "incontrovertible", I'm thinking of Dave Barry's rule about how, if a woman has not told you she's pregnant, you should never assume she is unless you actually witness a baby emerging from her body.

Unless you were actually in the doctor's office that day, watching him/her perform the vasectomy on Annie's husband, you do not know for a fact that he's had a vasectomy. Unless Becca was in the doctor's office that day, watching him/her give Annie's husband a vasectomy, Becca does not know for a fact that he's had a vasectomy.

You do not have any facts. What you have is a half-assed rumor. Which means your conversation with Annie is going go something like this:

"Annie, I don't know this for certain, but I heard third-hand that your husband might've been drunk one night several years ago, and possibly admitted that he had a vasectomy. Or not. I wasn't there. The person who claims to have been there and witnessed him saying this is reasonably sure that's what he said, though she's not positive. Oh, and that person wishes to remain anonymous. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that before you guys got married, you'd agreed to try for kids, so I thought I'd better say something, in case it is true...."

Even TMZ.com wouldn't accept a rumor like that.

Stay out of it. If Annie does choose to speak to you about her concerns, just tell her that it's important both parties be checked out by doctors, to cover all of the bases. You can tell her that, because it's a fact and you know it's a fact.

But whether or not Annie's husband had a vasectomy? You have no idea if that's a fact, and no way to find out. So leave it alone.

Oh, and stay the heck away from Becca. I agree with the folks upthread who said she's looking to shit-stir.
posted by magstheaxe at 2:27 PM on May 8 [3 favorites]


how do you think annie's husband will react if he finds out you've been talking about his dick on the internet?

This is an anonymous post with no personal details whatsoever so I am pretty sure there is zero chance it will cause any real harm to anyone. This does not need to turn into a pile-on questioning the poster's ethics.
posted by rada at 2:29 PM on May 8 [12 favorites]


They should go get their fertility tested, and if he's unwilling, then that says everything his wife needs to know. As her friend you could encourage her to do the testing, which means for both her and her husband.
posted by Dansaman at 3:08 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


N-thing stay out of it.
posted by discopolo at 3:24 PM on May 8


I want to know what you mean when you say the husband is "a little scary."

The takeaway of this post is that you believe the husband is willfully and with malicious intent lying to Annie in order to prevent her from ever having children.

Yes, that is very scary. It is so scary that most people here do not believe it. It is so scary that the much, much more likely explanation is that you have a shit-stirring friend who is exaggerating a rumor to cause trouble.

Take a step back. Evaluate the relative odds of Becca being a gossipy trouble-maker, and Annie's husband being a sociopath, keeping in mind that gossipy troublemakers are much more common than sociopaths. Does anything else in your experience support the possibility that this husband is, as you said, a scary person? Is that what your gut tells you? It's not the only thing you should go on, but it's worth something. What did you think about the husband, and the relationship, before you heard this rumor? Did it seem exploitative or potentially abusive in any way? What about Becca? Has she been gossipy or caused trouble in friendships before? Does she have any kind of stake in the relationship? These questions can give you some context for evaluating Becca's claim.

I agree with most people that the odds are that she is making something out of nothing. But if you ask yourself these questions and you're still really anxious about it, and your alarm bells are going off, and your own motivations (as best you can assess them) are pure, then I do not think it would be out of line to tell her the truth: "This probably nothing, I know it's kind of ridiculous and it's insanely unlikely, but I've been worrying about it a lot and I can't shake it: Becca says she remembers hearing your husband say X." And then you support her, and be okay with whatever she says, even if her response is, "That's absolutely idiotic and I'm pissed at you for mentioning it," because that's what is most likely to happen.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 3:47 PM on May 8 [10 favorites]


Going against the others here (although all these responses did make me doubt my instinct).

I totally understand why you want to tell her. You feel like there's a strong chance she's been wronged, and she's your friend. And if he had a vasectomy, there's a chance it's reversible or that they could still conceive, or that they could find a sperm donor. She's young enough that if deceit like this is revealed she can divorce him and find someone who actually wants to build a family with her.

I actually DON'T think it's unreasonable that a man in is 40s who already had kids has had a vasectomy, and doesn't want to have any more kids, and made his wife agree that "they would just try and if it happens it happens" knowing that it is impossible for it to happen. People who already have a couple of kids probably wouldn't take that careless of an attitude towards having kids. Because, you know, in his experience, last time that produced kids, which is not a lightweight consequence of one's actions. I think that the more natural reaction from him, sans vasectomy, would be to be approaching this as "we are having kids" not as "we might be trying to if it works out."

It really depends how close you are to Annie. If she's an old friend, who you knew before she met her husband and Becca, then I'd probably tell her. Your loyalty is to her first.

I'd be like, "This is a weird thing, and I totally have no idea if it means anything or not, but someone in our friend group told me that they thought they remembered [husband] mentioning that he had a vasectomy once, years ago, after he had kids with [first wife]. It was a long time ago and the person was totally unsure of whether or not they actually remembered it or were misremembering and it was someone else."
posted by amaire at 3:52 PM on May 8 [15 favorites]


He could have had it reversed after the drunken conversation with Becca. You just don't know. Becca wouldn't be likely to know because Annie's husband probably doesn't talk about his penis to her when he's not drunk.

When Annie shares her concerns with you, the ONLY line you should offer is "Gosh, Annie, I bet you'd feel a lot better if you saw a fertility specialist."

I'm only even offering this line because Annie is close to you and that makes you feel like you have an obligation to support her. Since this is what a supportive friend would encourage even if you'd never had that conversation with Becca, say this and only this ever, ever. If she does go to a doctor and gets a clean bill, then it's up to her and her husband whether to pursue it further.

Otherwise this is so totally 100% not your concern. I would make this my concern for say like, my sister, and even then I'd go straight to the source and ask her husband before I said anything to her. If you and Annie aren't as close as sisters, don't go there.
posted by mibo at 4:18 PM on May 8


That's a remarkable set of circumstances and I am not sure how it comes off as so black and white to most of the answerers here.

"Another friend was there who remembers the conversation the same way..." Is this third party in any position where it might be reasonable for him/her to relay the memory?

People are already gossiping; I don't know, it seems like something might as well come out of it. If Becca is correct your friend's relationship is straight-out abusive and sitting by idly would not sit well with me either.

pretentious illiterate has a good take on this. I would not rush to discount the possibility that Becca is known to be a rational actor and Mr Annie is already a little suspicious. I am having a hard time thinking OP has no ability at all to judge people; I don't see a lot of 'But he's such a lovely man that I can't imagine this is true?' It is very nice that the majority assumption is that Mr Annie is not a sociopath, but...

Anyway, I empathise with If I was in Annie's shoes I would want to know. The only thing that seems weird to me about this is that Becca has assessed Annie as a shoot-the-messenger flake and Becca still wishes to maintain the friendship anyway. If she's going to tell you she can certainly tell Annie and let the chips fall where they may. If she's right it's pretty serious stuff and I wouldn't categorise it as trivial stir-the-pot gossip in the same category as 'and I think on that Cinco de Mayo blowout, they kissed!' If it's true Mr Annie is quite the psycho and I don't know that it's fair to ask friends to blow that off. I'm not even sure if it's possible to continue being a good friend to Annie while sitting on this. Maybe if you're not close enough to tell her, but close enough to harbour such a terrible suspicion about Mr Annie, you just need to cut Annie loose.
posted by kmennie at 4:47 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


The point is not that anyone claims to know that Mr Annie is beyond all possible reproach. The point is that you don't drop a bombshell like this on someone unless you actually have some facts to back it up. It's a corrosive and deeply distressing thing to suggest to Annie, one which will profoundly shake her sense of who her partner is and what the nature of their relationship is. That could do real and genuine damage. You don't run a risk like that based on "we kinda sorta remember a drunken conversation a few years back."

In the end, what can Annie do with the information, after all? All she can do is stew over it. If she confronts her partner and he denies it (say he says "no, that conversation never happened" or "I was talking about that time I thought about getting a vasectomy, and they misremembered it" or "yeah, I had a vasectomy, but I got it reversed") then what does she do? In any case she'll still have this corrosive uncertainty ("is he telling her the truth?"). The only way to settle the question is getting a test: but that's true whether or not she gets told about this half-remembered conversation in the first place. The only way her doubts about "why she's not getting pregnant" can be allayed is by both of them going and getting tested. So if the only useful advice you can give her is "go and get yourselves tested and find out what's going on" why add in on top of that the completely useless nuclear bomb of "oh, and by the way, we kinda sorta suspect your husband of being a psychopath--but we aren't really sure"?
posted by yoink at 5:13 PM on May 8 [5 favorites]


One other possibility: The guy was shining Becca on about the state of his fertility in order to have unprotected sex with her.
posted by Mitheral at 5:16 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


I favorited a few "mind your own business" posts but honestly now that I've read all of them, amaire's is the one that resonates with me.

The very fact that their agreement was to try for a year and then drop it and not investigate further (even though the standard advice is to try for a year without intervention, and then investigate, for people who actually want children) makes me think something may be hinky here. And by hinky I mean sociopathic.

I would tell her what you heard, with all the disclaimers that you've given us here. But don't be surprised if it does end your friendship. It's a hell of an accusation.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:20 PM on May 8 [6 favorites]


I third the "we try for a year and then we'll never investigate it again" as suspicious. Especially since I just finished reading a book where that's exactly what a husband did to his wife as secret revenge for her trapping him into marriage with a fake pregnancy. However, a drunken mention of wanting a vasectomy years ago is not enough proof, and odds are Annie loves her husband more than she loves you, and she won't believe or listen to a word you say about it. And thus ends the friendship anyway.

My suggestion is to talk to her about this "we won't investigate it" thing and get her to realize this isn't a good plan/"God's will" if she goes along with that idea. Have her harass him, if need be, into getting his sperm checked. Make sure she doesn't trust him to take care of it on his own and report back to her--go along to the doctor. If she wants a baby badly enough she should be highly motivated (and sounds like she is) to insist on medical treatment, starting with him because it'd be easier to fix his fertility issues than hers, or some excuse like that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:51 PM on May 8


I third the "we try for a year and then we'll never investigate it again" as suspicious.

It's also not what the OP said, which was this:
However, it sounds like before they got married, they agreed that they'd try to conceive, and if it wasn't in the cards, they'd just go with that.
Which is, you know, what myriads of normal human beings would decide every day of the week and only "suspicious" if you've already decided the guy's a scumbag.
posted by yoink at 6:32 PM on May 8 [5 favorites]


If you think the guy is capable of doing something that cruel, trust your gut. Because it is incredibly cruel to make your partner believe she could be infertile, and to go through medical testing and hoping for a pregnancy that can't happen.

I can think of maybe one person in all my friends with infertility struggles where I would even come close to thinking that is a possibility, and the husband there is a giant ass on many levels. If someone suggested it for my other friends, I would be "you're nuts, he would not do that to her".

She's already discussing her infertility struggles with you. Ask her about her husband's testing and emphasize how hard it is for some men to do the testing, but it's 50% male, 50% female infertility, and what does her doctor and his doctor say, etc. Ask gently and without referring to a vasectomy, but you're already close enough to bring up his infertility risk without being intrusive. And if she says he got tested and says he fine but she's never seen the paperwork or the doctor, suggest he get tested again and she talk to his doctor because there are infertility conditions where it's the genetic interaction between a couple (allergies to husband's sperm, genetic mismatch) that cause infertility.

Seriously, a year of faked infertility and testing and having her choice about fertility removed - if you think he is capable of something so cruel, then you are talking about being a friend to someone married to a dangerous person, not just old gossip.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:37 PM on May 8 [5 favorites]


Say nothing and forget you ever wondered.
posted by ead at 8:21 PM on May 8


Hmm, this all very much depends on the people involved. But if I were Annie, I'd want the information vetted by one of my best friends ("Cookie") and if necessary, brought to my attention by her. Did Annie have a bridesmaid? Does she have a college roommate she still visits every year? Someone like that. And I'd want as few other people to know as possible. Annie's first question may well be "who is saying this vile BS?" so it would be even better if *Becca* could tell Cookie directly and leave you out of it.

Now, if Becca told you because she thinks *you're* that best friend, then you're in another situation, because then there may be no Cookie. In that case, I agree with those saying that you should use your conversations about fertility to ask whether the right tests were done (following viggorlijah's approach). If she's seen the results of his test, then great -- you've ruled out the rumor. If she just says that he had his own tests done, you may need to work up to having that very serious conversation.

I wouldn't frame all of this as "a rumor is going around." That would make me feel exposed and embarrassed, on top of whatever I felt about the information itself. In any case, once the information is in the hands of someone who will handle it responsibly, the rumor should be squashed as quickly and quietly as possible.
posted by salvia at 8:38 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


If you really think this is a possibility then someone has to get the conversation started with Annie...there is no way around it. If he's actually hid this for this long what do you think will happen even if he agrees to testing?? It's not like the Urologist can play detective and call Annie up with the big reveal - the husband's medical information is private if he wants it to be. If there were another way to gently guide her to consider this possibility than I would do that but it looks like it will just have to be discussed. Is anyone close with her husband? Him telling her on his own would be the best outcome perhaps he's not thinking through just how devastating this is. He doesn't have to be a sociopath just very very selfish...
posted by Skadi at 6:38 AM on May 9


Yes, that is very scary. It is so scary that most people here do not believe it. It is so scary that the much, much more likely explanation is that you have a shit-stirring friend who is exaggerating a rumor to cause trouble.

As a member of the "butt out" contingent I want to comment on this:

It's not at all that I can't believe something this awful; sadly I think people do this kind of mindfuckery to each other all the time. I doubt anyone else saying that OP shouldn't involve herself in this believes such a thing is not possible.

What I do believe is that there's no way something this horrific happens by itself. Someone who would behave this way towards their partner is not being a good spouse in all other ways. Someone willing to hide something this big is hiding other things this big.

If there's reason to believe this - or even just a mild possibility - then Annie absolutely needs your support and friendship. OP should be there for her to be the clear eyes of an uninvolved party and ask "oh really?" to questionable things and flatly state "no, that's abusive" to others. There's lots of great "oh a quick tug & test seems to help people in these situations" ideas above about steering that is good advice not based on rumors. If Annie's husband behaves sketchily in response to that sort of fact-based pursuit then OP should absolutely cock the eyebrow and be a good friend to Annie by helping her see that something is Not Right.

But I have never in my life seen this kind of unprovable hearsay turn into good action. Abusers/liars will further lie and use this sort of thing to their advantage to help sever support ties. People in denial will write them off. If Annie needs her friends to intercede and help her then this will almost surely have the opposite effect and delay things getting better.

I totally agree with Pretentiously Illiterate that you should be mindful of all the other possible signs. But if they're there I think this is the wrong opening gambit, and risks creating a wedge. I'd look for the things that are visible and repeating rather than something unprovable that relies on drunken honesty and recall.
posted by phearlez at 12:51 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


I am 100% prepared to believe that Annie's husband had a vasectomy and is deceiving her. It seems at least equally, if not more plausible, than Becca's being a troublemaker.

The thing is, it doesn't really matter.

It sounds like Annie herself doesn't have the character to receive this kind of information from you. If her husband is doing this, it would make him an asshole she absolutely should not have children with in any case.

All this puts you in a hard place.

I think that the best thing you can do is collect (concrete, with prices, personal to her insurance situation) information about preliminary investigation of infertility and present it to her in a neat package. "I hear that this has been really hard on you. I've done some research. For one insurance covered doctor's appointment each and some covered lab tests, you can get information about each of your fertility standpoints that could let you make a much more informed decision about what to do. Here is the name of a doctor that comes recommended by xyz. It seems to me that pursuing this would be really good for your peace of mind, and that if your husband is really supportive of your happiness, he would go along."

And then do butt out, because some people can only cycle through endless misery and drama rather than face a toxic relationship head on, and there's practically nothing you can do about it.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:45 AM on May 12


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