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Dilemma with My Infertile Husband: Stay or Divorce?



Reply Date

May 31, 2017


We have been married for three years and we have been trying to have a baby for more than one year. We went to the best fertility clinics in the country, and we got to know that there is nothing wrong with me, but my husband suffers from non-obstructive azoospermia (he does not make any sperm) for which there is no treatment. The only way I can get pregnant, from a medical point of view, is to use donor sperm which is haram and which I would never consider. We both feel very sad. I have to hide it from my family as I do not want them to treat him in a different way (they are nice to him). At the same time, only his parents know his problem. His relatives always ask me when we are having a baby and this hurts me so much. None of them except his parents know about this. His parents did not tell anyone and it is as though it is me who cannot give a child to my husband. At the same time, I cannot go about telling them that it is my husband who has got the problem and it is not me - they might not believe me anyway. It is often the wife who gets the blame. Again, there is so much pressure for us to have a child with both families and friends. I have always wanted a big family, but I know it is now impossible. I accept that it is a test from Allah and I am pleased with His decree upon me. My husband has sadly given me the option of a divorce so that I can marry someone else as he is well aware of my despair. I love him and he is a very good Muslim, kind and loving. Sometimes, I am prepared to sacrifice for him my honor as a healthy woman to be assumed as infertile as I do not want my family and friends to think that it is him who has the fertility problem. But since his family does not appreciate my sacrifice, I get so stressed up that I sometimes feel like leaving him and marrying someone else. In fact, a Muslim brother proposed to me several weeks back not knowing that I was married and it left me in a big dilemma, but I felt so sorry for my husband. I could not leave him like this. Adoption is something we are thinking about, but again it is not the same as having our own children. Adopted children, many of them, come from complicated backgrounds and alhamdulillah being healthy and a professional, I have always imagined I will have kids that would be more or less like me. Although upbringing does have some impact, adopted kids come with completely different genetic makeup and their health, IQ , and behavior can be highly unpredictable. I will still be labeled as an infertile woman. Am I a bad person to think like this and sometimes consider leaving my hubby? I am quite distressed. I want to be closer to Allah, be more patient, and be less stressful with this. I need help. Please advise. May Allah reward you.



Dilemma with My Infertile Husband: Stay or Divorce?


 Wa ’Alaykum As-Salam,

Thank you so much for writing in details about such a challenging situation. We want to remind you from the start that Allah Most High is merciful and the best of planners so that you should never regret nor resent having found out that your husband is unable to produce any sperm.

Even though you have stated that your husband was diagnosed as having non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA), we would still like to strongly suggest that you encourage him to obtain a second opinion. We suggest both a testis biopsy and a sperm analysis to be done as it is really very rare that no sperm at all is being produced.

The most current research on NOA indicates that it is possible for patients diagnosed with NOA to have at least marginal semen production. The semen analysis is important because as long as even some semen is being produced, using a procedure called TESE (testicular sperm extraction), doctors could then use intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) with fairly high chances of achieving a pregnancy in sha’ Allah.

It is possible that you have explored all these options already and are fairly certain that you will not have children due to your husband’s condition. All of this is a test from Allah Most High. Therefore, one of the first things to keep in mind is that your collective trust in Allah (swt) can never decrease or diminish. You must constantly make du’aa’ to Allah (swt) to grant you offspring if.

In fact, having children is best for your faith, family, and future. As you might already know, sometimes, even though a man with NOA is able to impregnate his wife through various procedures, the chances are quite high that the children will be born with birth defects. One has to wonder which would be tougher to deal with: not having any children at all or trying too hard to have children under the circumstances and then face the risk of having children with birth defects. No parent should ever have to face this set of choices, but that is the reality you are dealing with.

In addition, we want to touch upon this issue of having to tell family and friends. First of all, living and dying are not in anyone’s control but that of Allah Most High. Only Allah Most High can will that a child is conceived. Therefore, we would suggest that you should talk to your husband and even seek counseling to prepare yourselves for the eventuality that, in fact, you both will not be able to have children of your own. Once both of you have come to terms with this reality, you can worry about how to tell others and what to tell those who keep insisting that you should have children soon.

It is really no one’s business which of the two spouses is the source of infertility. Therefore, we want to be quite clear that neither should you take on the burden of saying that you are the source of infertility nor should it be related to anyone that your husband has NOA. Simply tell people that you are trying to have children and in sha’ Allah by the will of Allah (swt), you will have children someday. In the meantime, let your family and friends know that you appreciate their concern and that the best thing they can do for you is to stop asking about this and instead they should make du’aa’ to Allah (swt) to help you and your husband have children of your own. It is entirely up to your husband whether he wishes for your parents to know about his NOA. They do not have the right to know but out of respect, your husband might agree to tell them. Do not pressure him and do not also tell your parents on your own. Be patient. You and your husband will instinctively know how to proceed on the issue of informing others about this particular challenge.

We wish you the best and urge you to please return to the specialists for both the testis biopsy and the thorough semen analysis. Our brief comment on your notions of adopting a child is just that you should refrain from making generalizations about children who are waiting to be adopted. Allah (swt) knows best their particular backgrounds and circumstances, but it is not appropriate to attribute pathology to those children just because they are adopted.

We do not have enough information about your family to be adamant about not recommending adoption, but we prefer that you really try to have children of your own if Allah (swt) wills. Make du’aa’ to Allah (swt) to help you and your husband to have children if that is best for your faith, family and future.

And Allah (swt) knows best. 


Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.


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