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Coping with going through fertility treatment
November 1, 2016

Fertility struggles can put enormous pressure on a relationship and it is a huge thing to go through as a couple. It is really important to support each other and talk through decisions and how you are feeling.

Luckily I have a very strong marriage and a supportive husband, but fertility issues can still put a strain on your relationship. Although your husband may want a baby as much as you do, their experience of the process can be very different to yours. It is the woman that has the heartache of seeing their period arrive every month, the woman that has to endure the invasive side of fertility treatment and it is usually the woman that has always known they wanted to be a mother.

Try to make time to see things from your partner’s perspective. Warning signs to look for:

  • Over-reliance on your partner
  • Under-reliance – completely avoiding the subject
  • Losing perspective of yourselves as a couple outside of your fertility issues.
  • Losing sight of what attracted you to your partner in the first place.
  • Thinking of your partner as the problem, rather than the infertility.

Remember that your husband may be struggling with the inability to conceive too (especially if the issue is on their side), its important for you to talk it through with your husband. A common thing that has come up when talking to other women trying to conceive is that fertility issues can affect your sex life. Sex becomes about making a baby rather than pleasure, which puts extra pressure on both sides to perform and loses the intimacy.

I remember thinking it was probably the best time to conceive and being really upset that my husband wasn’t in the mood (not-surprisingly given that it was late at night after a busy day at work). I laid in bed crying (quietly so he didn’t hear me!) thinking that that was it for another month – another month with no baby. It created an enormous pressure and made the sex functional rather than enjoyable.

Tips for working through fertility issues as a couple

  • Don’t place blame - see the fertility issue as a joint issue (whichever side the problem is on). Placing the blame will create a divide between the two of you, you need to see it as something you need to overcome together. Talk about ‘our’ problem (not mine/yours).
  • Talking to each other is one of the most important things you can do – tell each other how you are feeling about the process, be honest, that way you can work together to get through it and support each other in the way you need it.
  • Don’t assume you know how your partner is feeling - you may have different ways of coping with the infertility and the process, so you need to discuss this so you don’t feel like your partner isn’t as bothered by it as you are – they may just be coping differently.
  • Make time to do things together as a couple – away from the fertility issues. Book a date night or a weekend away where you don’t talk about the issues and just relax/have fun together.
  • Set time limits for how long you talk about the treatment and infertility so your conversations don’t just revolve around trying for a baby. This can add to the stress and pressure in the relationship.
  • Allow each other time and space to deal with your emotions around it in your own way. Respect that you may both be dealing with it in different ways and be there to support in whichever way is needed.
  • If certain social gatherings are too painful (e.g gatherings with lots of young babies or pregnant women) then you may want to make your excuses to not go until you feel stronger in dealing with them and the emotions they stir up.
  • If your partner is feeling depressed, overwhelmed or anxious about the situation a mental health professional can help – encourage them to seek help from an infertility counsellor or coach, who are trained to support individuals and couples dealing with infertility and fertility treatment.
  • If you find that the fertility issues are affecting your sex life and relationship generally, it may be worthwhile taking a short break from treatment to rekindle the romance and remember what it is that you love about each other.

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