The fertility treatment process is a godsend for any couple struggling to conceive. But as much as they’re proven to be effective, it’s not always a walk in the park. Addressing this issue can be an emotional rollercoaster where there’s a constant cycle of hope and disappointment. All this stress can have a serious impact on your relationship.
So how do you step up for your partner through this journey? Here are 10 ways you can show support.
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1. Understand that you’re part of the treatment process
Not all fertility issues are straightforward, and not all of them are due to female problems. While we may think that pregnancy only happens to a woman’s body, the process of getting pregnant takes two. In fact, male infertility in Singapore saw a 72 percent increase between 2015 and 2017. More than half of which is due to low sperm count and/or poor sperm quality.
Therefore, you should expect that both of you will go through the necessary tests and treatments. In that way, your doctor can detect and treat the exact issues that are preventing you from conceiving. Understand that fertility treatment is a journey that you get into as a couple.
2. Never get into the blame-game
There are times where partners can go downhill and straight into the blame game. Either they may resent the other or pin the blame on themselves. When this happens, resist the urge to blame infertility on the “should-haves” and “shouldn’t haves”. For instance, saying things like, “We shouldn’t have waited too long to start a family,” does nothing to help with your current situation.
A good way to cope is to decide on what to do about it. There are so many options available today, and infertility shouldn’t be your only option. To help you deal with these negative emotions you can see an infertility grief therapist.
3. Educate yourself
Make an effort to learn about the fertility treatment process. You can read up on the different diagnostic tests, treatment options, and what the process will be like. You can even look into ways to finance the coming treatments if your insurance doesn’t cover it. There are several sources online and offline, including some of our blogs.
This journey can be made easier when you know what to expect, which also makes you a more dependable partner.
4. Ask how you can support her
You may fall into certain assumptions about your partner. When the treatment is going well, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. Sometimes, you might be at a loss on how to help her cope. Hence, it’s always better to ask how she’s really doing and how the treatment is making her feel.
Ask about her concerns on what the doctor says, and be gentle in sharing your opinion. Small things can be comforting in stressful times and you need to be that safe space for her. Ask her questions that no one may dare to ask, such as, “Are you happy about where you are right now?”, “Is this what you want?”, or “Do you want to carry on with the process?”
These challenges in fertility can change relationships. But it’s up to you if you allow it to strain your bond or strengthen it. Let your wife know that she can rely on you for unfaltering support.
5. Show tangible support
Day to day tasks and the stresses that come with it may seem minor, but they can also trigger negative emotions that can also affect the treatment process. Taking over chores that you don’t usually do is also a love language that won’t go unnoticed.
Offer to do the laundry, cook meals, or clean the house. If you already have kids, get extra help for childcare or for housekeeping and take some time out as a couple. It’s also important that you’re available to accompany her to doctor’s appointments, and be by her side to support her during those regular hormone injections.
Effort doesn’t have to be grand gestures, it’s the little things you do on a daily basis that will mean a lot. But it wouldn’t hurt to get creative too! When you step up to help your partner with these mundane tasks, you’re also telling her that this is a shared journey. Look at it as an investment for a successful treatment.
6. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help when you need it
As much as doing your homework is necessary to be in-the-know, you still need professional help to keep things on track. Besides your OB, there are support groups where you can gather input from couples who are on the same boat as you. They can also be a good source of psychological and emotional support during this difficult time.
As your partner’s main support system, there’s no shame in finding support yourself too. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Always seek help when needed and there are people you can surround yourself with to get the right support. Never be ashamed to seek counselling and commit to it as a couple.
7. Always show her that you’re a team
Check with your partner regularly to see if your goals are still aligned about how many attempts to make and how much money to spend. Some people have trouble expressing their concerns about money, and some partners may harbour resentment because the other seem to be clueless. But, you have to communicate better during the stresses of the fertility treatment process because these are important and practical conversations.
8. Respect your partner’s decisions
Your partner has to go through the physical ordeal that goes with fertility treatment. Imagine getting poked, prodded and jacked up with hormones, all these can take a toll on her. So, you should listen to her decisions about her body. If she wants to take a break, change treatments, or even if she’s still willing to pursue another round, be there to support her. Respect her decision as long as it’s not against doctor’s advice. Show that you’re doing everything you can to help her through this process.
9. It’s okay to skip baby-oriented activities
You may find that during your fertility journey, you would have to deal with some invitations to milestone events from friends and family. Although they’re all well-meaning, sometimes they miss the mark. If you or your partner is struggling with this, know that it’s okay to decline invitations to baby showers, birthdays, or family gatherings.
These social events can trigger mixed emotions for couples who are undergoing fertility treatments. Whilst feeling happy that your friend is having a baby, it can also stir some feelings of guilt, grief, or loss. Unless it’s okay for your partner, you can step up and be the one to decline and send gifts instead. If it’s making you uncomfortable, it’s also healthy that you express it to your partner in a gentle way.
10. Balance optimism with realism
It’s normal to pin your hopes on a treatment or procedure such as IVF or IUI. But you shouldn’t let your hopeful attitude overwhelm realistic expectations. When you keep this in mind, it allows you to be more considerate of what your partner has to go through. Many women have to undergo two to three treatment cycles (or even more) before they get pregnant.
If you want to learn more and get into detailed discussions about the fertility treatment process, we would be happy to assist you. We can provide professional guidance and a customised treatment to address your unique challenges. So, get in touch with us today at +65 6254 2878 or drop us a line HERE to book a non-obligatory consultation with Dr Pamela Tan!
Dr Pamela Tan is a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist in Singapore. She finished her undergraduate studies at the National University of Singapore and earned her post-graduate degree at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK. She is an accredited specialist by the Specialist Accreditation Board (Ministry of Health), and a fellow of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore. She subspecialises in colposcopy and is certified to perform Level 3 minimally invasive keyhole surgeries such as laparoscopic hysterectomy, myomectomy and cystectomy. Dr Pam also supports the natural birthing method and she strives to provide a personalised care and treatment for each patient.