We’re taught in sex education that unprotected sex leads to pregnancy –from the very beginning of the “birds and bees” conversation, it’s truly made out to be that simple. However, the reality that approximately 1 in 5 couples face when trying to conceive is that it’s not always as easy as your teacher might’ve led on.
It's an exciting time when planning for a family, but that excitement can shift to disappointment, grief, and even jealousy if pregnancy doesn’t happen right away. Whether you’re experiencing unexplained infertility, or if a medical condition has led to an infertility diagnosis, it’s rarely accepted without persistence. Each couple’s fertility journey is unique, and trouble conceiving can have lasting impacts on your relationship. So when stress levels are high, and the ebb and flow of complex emotions begins, how can you be there to support your spouse?
Communication –a foreign topic for some, is critically necessary throughout your fertility journey. Simply asking your partner where they’re at with things is a very supportive habit to adopt. If they’re undergoing fertility treatments, ask how the medication is making them feel and if there’s anything you can do to help alleviate any discomfort. If you just left a less than encouraging doctor's appointment, ask how they’re processing the information and share what you’re feeling too. Sometimes just being there to absorb some of their feelings is the best support you can offer, and yes, sometimes that means being an emotional punching bag on occasion too.
Lessen The Load
Taking on some additional responsibilities around the house is a great way to support your spouse through infertility. Anticipating their needs –like taking out the trash without being asked, folding a load of laundry, or grocery shopping is a quiet, non-confrontational way to show you’re working to reduce their daily stress and improve their overall mood.
Lean on Friends and Family
Being supportive doesn’t mean you have to be on 24/7. It’s ok to lean on friends and family when you need a break, both individually and as a couple. If you already have kids, set up a sleepover or schedule a babysitter so you can enjoy some downtime. If you’re comfortable talking about the challenges you’re facing with infertility, confide in 1 or 2 trusted friends or family members so you have a sounding board for your thoughts and emotions. If you have friends who have struggled or are struggling with infertility, they can be an excellent resource for advice and support.
Work Together On Treatment Goals
Attending as many doctor visits as possible is a good show of support when struggling with infertility. Being present and listening to treatment plans and options avoids your spouse having to relay upsetting or distressing information to you later on. When your doctor provides treatment plans or offers suggestions, follow them as a united couple. Check-in with your spouse to make sure you’re still on the same page when it comes to treatments, goals, and finances. Being proactive about these things can alleviate stress and help your partner feel supported.
Adjust Your Lifestyle
Most people know that consuming alcohol and smoking while pregnant is a risk to your developing baby. What some don’t know is that this same rule applies to trying to conceive as well. Adopting an overall healthier lifestyle is a great show of support for your partner. Limiting your alcohol intake and dropping unhealthy habits reminds them that you’re committed to seeing this journey through along with them. Fertility-friendly diets rich in folic and omega fatty acids are wonderful for preconception health. Taking supplements –like our His and Hers fertility supplements– provide essential vitamins and nutrients for reproductive health. Taking steps to improve your health is always a good idea, but doing so in solidarity with your partner to conceive is twice as nice.
Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep
It’s normal to want to do and say whatever you can to make your partner feel better in the hard moments, but serving up positive platitudes like “I promise it will happen,” “It’ll be ok,” or “We’ll get pregnant soon,” might end up doing more harm than good. The unfortunate reality is approximately 1 in 5 (19%) of couples are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying, otherwise known as infertility. Additionally, just over 1 in 4 (26%) of women in this group have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term (impaired fecundity). Although we’ve made remarkable advancements in reproductive health, nothing has proven to be 100% effective, and many factors contribute to one's inability to become pregnant or carry a baby to term.
Research Options and Outcomes
Being involved in the research process is another one of those quiet ways to show support for your spouse throughout your fertility journey. Take the time to learn about diagnostic tests and treatment options for both men and women. Read blogs, join social media groups, search for success stories to boost morale, and research ways to finance your options if health care doesn’t cover suggested treatments. Read up on common medications and their potential side effects. Knowledge is a wonderful thing, the more you read and comprehend the more you can prepare for, and easily navigate what comes next.
Prepare For The Inevitable Questions
It’s hard when someone’s heart is in the right place but their message lands flat. During such an emotionally charged time as trying to conceive, it’s easy to get upset over questions and comments regarding the status of your pregnancy. Being on the same page regarding how to respond to those inevitable inquiries is a good way to maintain a united front throughout your fertility journey. Talk with your spouse about how you’d like to address those situations and come up with some simple responses that explain where you’re at, but don’t necessarily encourage further conversation on the topic. For example:
- You know, that’s a really personal question you shouldn’t ask just anyone. Some people have a hard time getting pregnant, and questions like that could really make them feel bad about their situation.
- Honestly, I can’t tell you when. Getting pregnant isn’t as easy for some as it is for others, so please have a little more patience.
- Having a child is one of the most important decisions in life, and making that decision takes a lot of time and thought. I can’t give you a simple answer to such a huge, life-changing event.
Although infertility and IVF treatments can place pressure on your relationship, many couples report their relationship was strengthened as a result of going through infertility together. Ultimately, how you choose to support your spouse will 100% depend on what suits their needs and personality. Both men and women struggle with infertility, and being the emotional support person is not a gender specific role. In fact, you may find that role being reversed time and time again throughout your fertility journey.
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