Coping with infertility is a challenge for couples, to be sure. The diagnosis is a constant presence and just letting go feels impossible. Couples who suffer from infertility may find themselves growing apart, feeling blamed or many other not-so-good emotions that take a terrible toll on your relationship. But if you take the time to talk things out and be there for each other your infertility journey may strengthen your relationship in ways you never imagined.
8 Tips for Couples to Help Cope with Infertility
Before infertility drives a wedge into your relationship be proactive. Discuss your feelings openly and honestly and remember what drew you together in the first place. Here, we offer eight tips to help you, and your partner cope with infertility.
1. Understand Your Infertility
Infertility affects about in the United States. Not everyone has the same experience, and the root cause of your infertility may be confusing. Infertility may be male factor, female factor, a combination of both or , meaning your doctor cannot find the cause.
So, how do you deal with your diagnosis? Educate yourself. Ask questions of your doctor and your fertility team. Find out what, if any, options you have. Don’t simply google your concerns or questions. Refer to peer-reviewed sources and organizations such as the American Society for Reproductive Medicine or RESOLVE or ask your doctor’s office for references to other sources of information. Understanding your infertility allows you to face it head on.
2. Acknowledge That it’s A Problem
For many couples (especially those who don’t have children) it can be easier to shrug it off and bury the disappointment of infertility. But there is a special kind of grief that comes with infertility that you must acknowledge. An infertility diagnosis affects you both physically and emotionally. Both you and your partner share in an avalanche of feelings. Give your feelings voice. Talk to each other and if you feel you’re not yet there journal your feelings. Get them out in the open and then work on them together.
3. Don’t Assign Blame
It’s easy sometimes to simply blame yourself or your partner for your infertility. Maybe you have , and you feel you waited too long to start your family. Maybe there is an underlying cause you didn’t address soon enough. Whatever the factor behind your diagnosis, this is not the time for blame. Negative thinking only compounds the not-so-good feelings you already have. Your infertility is no one’s fault. Stop assigning blame and move forward to the future while discussing your options with your doctor.
4. Stronger Together
It’s tempting to curl up alone in a dark room and let your feelings rage. Especially if you and your partner aren’t feeling the same emotions at the same time or in the same way. Not sharing your feelings leads to misunderstandings that grow. Acknowledge your feelings and speak to the differences. Take time to ease their burden by encouraging them to share. And if they shut you down try another time.
5. Turn to Your Specialist
Your is a great resource. They know and understand your specific diagnosis and may offer options for overcoming your infertility. Your doctor and fertility clinic also provide many different resources you and your partner may turn to as you cope with infertility. Your clinic has the information you need on support groups, and even counseling.
6. Make Decisions Together
It’s not unusual for one partner or the other to feel the need to “keep trying” naturally to conceive. That may seem optimistic if a bit unrealistic. Especially in the wake of a definitive diagnosis. Approach one another form a realistic place and discuss your options together with your doctor. Don’t make any decisions unless you are both onboard.
7. Take Time Off From Baby Related Activities
If you don’t want to attend a baby shower, birthday party or any other gathering that leaves you feeling depressed, don’t! The focus right now must be on you, your partner, and your fragile feelings. Instead of attending yet another baby shower or answering the call to babysit for friends or relatives, do something together. Go to an outdoor concert, go hiking, take in a movie or try that new restaurant that’s been pop your list. Do something other than sit out the event.
8. Take Care of Yourself and Each Other
Continuing the theme of putting yourselves and your feelings front and center, it’s imperative that you practice self-care and couple-care at this time. There is so much more to your relationship than your fertility. Revert back to some of those times you spent together in your dating days. Go on a long weekend trip or plan a dream vacation together. The more you focus on your diagnosis the deeper you’ll slide into depression. Try to remain as hopeful as you can. Advanced reproductive technology is in your favor.