When a loved one is struggling with infertility, it can be difficult to know the right things to say or how to act or help. While your intentions may be well-meaning, for those going through infertility it can be a very personal and private struggle.
Infertility is defined as being unable to conceive after one year of trying, or for a woman over 35 after six months of trying. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10% of women in the United States have difficulty trying to get pregnant or stay pregnant.
It’s important to recognize that infertility doesn’t happen to just one person. You may be a partner, a family member, or a friend of someone dealing with infertility and it can put stress on these relationships. You may feel like you need to tiptoe around the subject or feel like you’re providing all the support without having your own emotional outlet. We know it’s not easy. Here are some tips for providing infertility support to a loved one while also finding support for yourself.
Providing Infertility Support for Your Loved One While Finding Help for Yourself
Keep Communication Open
First and foremost, keep the lines of communication open. It may be difficult, but whether you are a partner, family member or friend, it’s important to let your loved one know you are on the journey with them in any way that they may need, including letting them process alone or providing stronger support by engaging emotionally.
Wherever you may be in the journey, remember to always be honest about your feelings and what you may need as well. This is especially true as a partner of someone struggling with infertility.
Don’t Blame Each Other
This is critical; as partners, do not blame each other. There’s often a misconception that infertility is a woman’s issue, when in fact infertility among women and men occurs equally. According to the CDC, one third of infertility cases are due to women’s health issues and one third due to men’s health issues.
Women’s Infertility Issues
- There are a number of conditions and things that can lead to infertility for a woman including:
Men’s Infertility Issues
- Infertility in men may be a result of:
- Sperm disorders
- Varicoceles (swollen veins in the scrotum)
- Retrograde ejaculation
- Immunologic infertility
Finally, infertility in a third of couples may be due to a mix of the above women’s and men’s infertility issues. Regardless of what is causing infertility, support each other and understand that infertility can put immense stress on a relationship. In fact, infertile couples are three times more likely to get a divorce; if you’re struggling, it’s highly recommended to seek out the help of a counselor.
Continue to Live Your Daily Lives
While going through infertility, it can be all-consuming but it’s essential to not let it overtake your daily lives. Life doesn’t stop because you and your partner are experiencing infertility; be sure to continue your daily routine. You might also find other ways to keep your mind off of the struggle and incorporate activities that are relaxing and fun.
Try some of these activities:
- Plan a vacation
- Go to the movies
- Get a massage
- Start a new hobby
- Go for a hike
Keep the Spark in the Bedroom
Infertility can cause a strain in a relationship and even make bedroom activities less enjoyable with the perceived pressure to perform. Remember that sexual activities are not just about procreation. It’s about intimacy with another human being. Touch is essential to human connection, so don’t neglect making these moments with your partner about both sexual and emotional pleasure.
Set the mood with these tips:
- Light candles in the bedroom
- Turn on background music
- Partake in foreplay
- Try new sexual positions
- Declare your love
Visit an Infertility Support Group
Sometimes infertility support between a couple is not enough. It can feel like you’re the only ones dealing with infertility. However, you are not alone. If you’re struggling to overcome negative feelings about infertility, it may be time for you and your partner to learn from others going through similar struggles.
An infertility support group is a way to help you emotionally compartmentalize your struggles through the support of others. It can also bring relief from feelings of isolation and empower you to make decisions about how your life may exist with or without children. If you need additional infertility support in your journey, visit Resolve.org to find a local support group.
Your Infertility Journey
If you or someone you know is dealing with infertility, let them know they are not alone, and they have options. At the Kaldas Center, we offer cost-effective treatments to help women and couples facing fertility challenges. We perform a thorough fertility evaluation for you and your partner to help better understand the barrier to your fertility. To schedule a consultation, call the Kaldas Center at (920) 886-2299 or visit our website.