Many couples liken the experience to being on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. You may feel stuck in an endless loop of nervous excitement and hope as you navigate the dreaded ‘two-week wait’ and then crushing disappointment as you see a single line on a pregnancy test yet again. While it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one going through this cycle every month, it’s important to realise that you’re not alone. In fact, around 1 in 7 couples has problems conceiving.
In this blog post, we explore the strain that fertility issues can place on relationships and provide expert tips on how to communicate your feelings and support each other through what can be a difficult time.
Communication tips for couples struggling to conceive
When it comes to communication, starting a conversation can feel like half the battle sometimes. Below we’ve detailed some of the different ways that fertility issues can impact relationships and provided useful tips and prompts to help you to get talking.
From disagreements on when to seek help and differences of opinion on how to move forward to sexual stress and financial strain, couples can find themselves facing a whole host of difficult conversations. While these discussions can be challenging, it’s vitally important that couples keep two-way communication open.
Relationship psychologist Mairéad Molloy advises ‘Talking to each other and sharing fears is a good start. Talking about infertility can become a problem if one partner’s primary coping mechanism is to avoid the topic altogether. It can also become a source of tension if one partner talks about infertility “all the time.” The key is finding balance. Be willing to talk, or be willing to talk about it less, depending on which side of the coin you fall.’
Ways to care for yourself and each other
Trying for a baby can be a challenging time for many couples. To help you cope, we’ve put together some tips on taking care of your body, your mind and your relationship while you try to conceive.
We discuss the importance of taking the focus off scheduled sex and putting the romance and fun back into your sex life and into your relationship in general. Dr Molloy recommends that couples take the pressure off by trying to ‘connect in other ways.’
‘This requires effort,’ she says. ‘Think back to what you did during your dating days. Or, pursue a new hobby or activity together. Sit down and make a list of things to do together.’
The period between ovulation and the date of the next predicted menstrual period, often known as the ‘two-week wait’, can also prove challenging for many couples. We provide ideas for how to get through this time and talk about why it makes sense not to bottle up your worries.
Beyond the physical and emotional, there’s also a very real financial component to trying to get pregnant, with many couples forking out significant sums of money to pay for fertility testing and treatments. Here, you’ll find practical advice to help prevent financial strain. According to Dr Molloy, ‘the sooner you start putting money aside, the better. If you don’t need it for fertility treatment bills or adoption costs, you can use it for something else like a holiday.’
No one should be forced to go through fertility issues alone. We talk about the importance of reaching out for help when you need it and of trying to understand your partner’s point of view when you have differences of opinion. After all, no two people will have the same reaction to fertility problems.
You’ll find out about flexible planning too. While you can’t plan for fertility problems, you can discuss long-term options and make flexible short-term plans to give you a greater sense of control.
Finally, we discuss why looking after your body is paramount when coping with fertility issues.
Fertility problems can put a significant strain on even the strongest individuals and relationships. By following tips like these, you can give yourself and your partner the best possible chance of protecting your mental health and maintaining a healthy, loving relationship.
If you’d like to share your experiences of trying to get pregnant or provide your own tips or advice for coping with difficulties conceiving, get involved. Join in the conversation on social media using #theartoftrying.