I sat, a bit anxiously, in the waiting room, flipping through a dated copy of Newsweek.
My wife Gwen and I had been trying to conceive for several months, and it was my turn to undergo tests to rule out any possibilities and determine the best course of treatment. The tests were simple, as I understood it. I was going to have some blood withdrawn, and I was going to give a sperm sample. Gwen had had to endure worse.
I looked up. A woman was standing in the doorway that led to the exam rooms. I nodded affirmatively.
"Mr. Black, please come with me."
She held the door for me as I stepped inside. "Mr. Black, how are you today? Welcome to the Reproductive Science Institute. My name is Dana, and I'm your Coordinator for this visit." She offered her hand and I took it gently.
"Pleased to meet you," I replied.
"If you'll just follow me this way, we'll get started." I watched her walk away. She was a petite woman, in perhaps her mid-twenties. She was wearing loose fitting maroon scrubs and the sensible white shoes that nurses tend to wear, but I could tell that she had a good figure. "This is your first visit to a clinic like ours, isn't it?" she asked.
"Yes," I responded.
"Well, you don't have anything to worry about. Our methods are very good, and we are highly successful at helping couples like you and wife. However, our techniques are somewhat different that what you may have seen on television or in the movies," she explained as she led me down the corridor. Doors on either side were marked in a seemingly random fashion with alphanumerals - E1, U2, B1, U3, M5 - but I didn't ask about them. I knew what she was talking about though. I had imagined being led to small room with a cup in one hand and a couple of porn magazines in the other; I suppose that wasn't what they did here.
"Really?" I asked.
"Oh, yes," She turned to look at me, and smiled. "The procedure will be explained to you shortly. But first, let's get your height and weight." We were standing in front of a scale. I slipped off my shoes, stepped up, and she quickly adjusted the machine and wrote the measurements onto her clipboard with a ballpoint pen. "Great," she said. "And you're 30, right?" I nodded.
"OK, first we'll draw some blood. Grab your shoes and let's step in here." She indicated a door marked B3. Inside was a normal chair next to a small table. I followed her instructions as I sat down and rolled up my right sleeve. She tapped the inside of my elbow with her fingers, rubbed on some disinfectant, and readied the needle with her other hand. "Just a pinch," she warned, and pushed the needle in. We filled a few vials, to which she applied peel-off labels.
"That was fast," I commented.
"Practice, practice, practice," she told me, smiling. She placed a bandage over the gauze on my arm. "Let's keep moving. E2 is supposed to be open now. I told Padma to meet us there." I got up, grabbed my shoes again, and followed her out the door, her short blonde hair bobbing up and down as she walked quickly down the hall.
"I'm training Padma as an Extraction Technician this week," she explained, looking back at me as we walked. "She just joined us. Of course, she is a fully qualified nurse, but hasn't worked in this area before, so I'm showing her the ropes. You don't mind, do you?"
"Extraction?" I asked. That word definitely got my attention.
She noticed my concern. "It's probably not what you think, and it's nothing to worry about. There aren't any more needles involved, I guarantee it!" she laughed.
"Okay," I said.
"Here, please." She gestured toward the room I was to enter. The door was already open.
I stepped inside to see a rather tall, pretty, young Indian woman waiting inside. She was slender with smooth, brown skin and dark brown eyes. She was organizing some specimen bottles and tubes on the counter, and, like Dana, she was wearing loose maroon scrubs. She smiled, and I smiled back.
"Mr. Black, this is Padma," Dana introduced us. Padma offered her hand and I, of course, took it. She had medium length, glossy black hair, pulled neatly away from her face and shoulders with clips.
"Pleased to meet you," I said.
"The same," she replied. "I trust you are doing well today?" she asked. She had a charming Indian accent. I nodded, and the two women exchanged smiles. "I suppose that Dana explained that I'll be your Extraction Technician today."
"And I'll be Assisting," chimed in Dana.
"Yes," continued Padma. "Dana is Assisting. As she probably told you, I have been in training this week. I'm quite excited, as this will be my first solo Extraction. Of course, Dana will be guiding me, so there is nothing to worry about." She looked at Dana. "Shall I explain the procedure?"
"Sure," Dana replied. I nodded, too, very anxious to hear what was planned for me. "But why doesn't Mr. Black get changed while you explain?"
"Of course," answered Padma. Dana opened a drawer and pulled out a paper gown, which she handed to me. Padma continued, "You may change behind the screen. Please remove all your clothes, underwear, and socks. And your watch, too, if you don't mind. Then put on the gown, opening in front, please."
I looked around the room. In the corner was the screen she referred to, and in the middle of the room was what I took to be a normal massage table. There was a large bar chart on the wall behind Padma, but I couldn't read it with her in the way.
"Um, okay," I replied, stepping over behind the screen. There was a hanger for my shirt and pants, and a stool allowed me to sit while I removed my socks. I pulled the gown around me. There were ties near the throat and at the middle of my chest, but the bottom was open, which was not unexpected. Once the gown was on, I slipped off my boxers, folded them neatly, and placed them on the stool. It suddenly seemed much cooler in the room. While I was undressing, Padma explained the procedure.
"We do not use the typical method of taking a semen sample here, Mr. Black. Our methods are much more effective, and give us more information in diagnosing the fertility problems of you and your wife. As well, they provide our physicians with a generous amount of data to use in their studies of human reproduction. But, you needn't worry," she said. "The procedure we will use today is not invasive or uncomfortable in the slightest."
I stepped out from behind the screen, holding the front of the gown closed for modesty.
"Mr. Black, if you will examine the chart on the wall," she said as she turned and pointed. Padma seemed to be reciting from memory. "Here at RSI, our studies have shown that the quality and quantity of human male ejaculate changes situationally, confirming animal models of the same phenomenon. If you'll look at the chart, you can see that, normally, sperm motility and ejaculate volume are lowest for auto-stimulation releases, and both are greatest for sexual intercourse with a novel partner.
"Looking closer, you will see that, using the techniques we have developed here, the values for sexual intercourse with a long term partner are very nearly matched by the values for manual stimulation by a novel partner, while an even closer match is made by the values for oral stimulation by a novel partner. This interesting finding allows us to replicate, in the medical environment, a condition for ejaculation that most closely matches the conditions present during sexual congress with intent to impregnate."
I understood clearly what she was going to explain next, and was somewhat shocked.
"Do not be alarmed, however, Mr. Black. We have a strict protocol for ejaculate Extractions, among which is the requirement of a monitor to insure absolute professionalism. That role will be filled by Dana, who will also assist me in the Extration procedure." Dana smiled at me reassuringly.
"Our studies have shown that, while oral stimulation of the penis provides a more accurate match to the nominal ejaculatory conditions, it is difficult to reliably collect the ejaculate without sample contamination. Instead, our standard Extraction procedure involves manual stimulation of the penis to ejaculation, and sterile collection of the ejaculate. We will also be taking some measurements for data acquisition to aid our doctors in their further study. Your data will be treated with the strictest confidentiality, and no public usage will be personally recognizable. This was indicated in the forms you signed when you arrived."
"Yes, I remember."
"Do you wish to withdraw from treatment?" Padma asked, smiling.
Dana cut in, "We are required to ask."
"No, I guess not." I replied. "So, what do I do?"
"Very good, Mr. Black," Padma said. "If you will, climb onto the Extraction table and face downward, with your gown open. Place your penis and scrotum in this hollow," she indicated with a hand wave, "and Dana will adjust the head rest so that your are comfortable."
The table was covered in a white sheet with strategically placed openings. I climbed up, adjusted my cock and balls so they were in the hollow and rested on my elbows. Dana pulled the head rest out a bit, and motioned for me to lay forward. Like the massage table I had imagined it to be, my forehead rested on a soft cushion, and I looked through to the floor below.
"Is that all right, Mr. Black?" Dana asked.
"Yes," I answered.
"Mr. Black, again, do not be alarmed," Padma said, "but we find that it is necessary to strap our patients to the table. This is primarily for your safety, as we will be raising the Extraction table and we do not want you to fall."
.... There is more of this story ...