After years of waiting and working to prevent a pregnancy, you have decided to start a family. Finally, the time is right. You have found the partner of your dreams, you are feeling secure enough with your career, or maybe you are just ready. You stop refilling your prescription for birth control pills, you throw away the unused condoms, you get your IUD removed, or if you lived life on the edge, you gave up on the withdrawal or rhythm method. And you start trying. And trying. But nothing is happening. You go online and start reading about fertility and try to figure out what you are doing wrong. You have more intercourse; you have less intercourse. You try this position; you try that position. You lay there after sex for 5 minutes; for 10 minutes; for 30 minutes. You buy fertility supplements. You buy an ovulation kit. You go back and buy a more expensive digital ovulation kit. You go back online. You try like this for 6 months, or for 1 year, or for 2 years. And the whole time, you are on an emotional roller coaster. What is supposed to be easy has turned out to be the exact opposite. Steadily, your stress and anxiety increase, maybe depression or guilt for waiting “too long” kicks in, and your fear that the family of your dreams is never going to happen. And for many, your relationship with your partner gets worse and worse.
Sounds familiar, right? I want you to know you are not alone. As a fertility specialist for over 10 years, I can tell you that this story repeats itself over and over. Infertility can and will rock even the most stable relationships. But please know that you can get through this. With some proven strategies, you can keep your relationship healthy and intact.
- Get some answers. Find out why you are having trouble conceiving. Schedule a consultation with an infertility specialist, see what they have to say, and do the recommended tests. I truly believe in the old adage that says, “Information is power.” I always tell my patients to take one step at a time and by figuring out the issues at hand, we can tackle your fertility issues strategically and gain back some control.
- Your partner is your teammate. Regardless of why you have infertility, you are in it together. Blame and shame are not going to help. Sharing responsibility does.
- Take time off from your fertility. Infertility can be a full–time job in and of itself. Find some time for you and your partner to get away. Alone and together. Do something on a weekly basis that is just for you. And do something together that you enjoy. Have fun!
- Talk to your friends. This is exactly why they are your friends. If you cannot talk to them, what good are having friends? You will probably be pleasantly surprised in what they have to say. Maybe they have even gone through something similar; remember, 1 in 8 couples have some difficulty conceiving.
- Talk openly with your partner. If you want to talk about things, make sure your partner does too. If you don’t want to talk to them right then, tell them. Listening to and respecting and honoring each other’s emotions are critical for a relationship to thrive,
- Ask for help sooner rather than later. Therapists and counselors can be a lifeline for so many. They offer a safe place to talk and share and there are mental health professionals that specialize in infertility.
Without a doubt, infertility is a crisis that affects everyone’s relationship one way or another. For many couples, it can actually strengthen their foundation and make their partnership or marriage stronger. It might not be easy, and it might take more work than you had hoped for, but neither your relationship or your fertility has to be doomed. I recommend starting with the steps outlined above.