How Couples Can Support One Another Through the Infertility Experience: Part Two

This is part two of our “How Couples Can Support One Another Through the Infertility Experience series. For part one, please click here.

How Couples Can Support One Another Through the Infertility Experience

By:Holly Yager, M.Ed., RCC, CCC
Well Woman Counselling, Vancouver, B.C.

Increase Intimacy

One of the dangers of a life that is overly fertility-focused is that of intimacy — both the emotional and the sexual kind — can become depleted. If you have been trying to conceive for any length of time, you are likely familiar with the concept of sex on demand or doctor-prescribed sex, where intercourse is planned and takes place even when the couple is not in the mood. Sex can feel like work! If you are using fertility medications, the pressure can really be on to perform on-demand. And if you are using in vitro fertilization (IVF), some couples just say why bother with sex?

You can keep the romance and spontaneity alive during the infertility journey by making an effort to connect sexually not just to conceive, but also on non-fertile days. This allows sex to become less about a means to an end and more about the experience. The key here is to connect purely for the sake of pleasure.

Another way to increase intimacy is to focus more on the emotional connection. Emotional intimacy involves having a closeness and connection with your partner and doesnt have to involve sex. Pretend you are a new couple and learning about each others likes and interests for the first time. Plan activities that make you feel connected on an emotional, or even on a spiritual level such as spending time in nature, taking a meditation class, or attending a yoga retreat.

Open Communication

Many couples say that they feel alone during the infertility experience. Most couples want to avoid talking about their struggles with others at work or social events. And some couples even want to avoid talking about their struggles with one another!

Often couples stop talking because there is a fear of be adding to your partners stress. But usually, the opposite is true. Most partners say I just wish she would tell me what to do. If you are able to share your needs with your partner, you have a better chance of those needs getting met. And your partner will feel less helpless.

When couples stop talking, whether to others or to one another, it can result in feeling socially isolated and unsupported. Even couples with the best communication can benefit from seeking out additional sources of support during the infertility experience.

Access Support

Know that you are not alone! In Canada, one-in-six couples are diagnosed with infertility. Ask your fertility clinic if they have a support group where you can connect with other couples. You can also find support groups listed on the websites for the RESOLVE: The National Infertility Associationand the Infertility Network.

You may also benefit from seeing an experienced reproductive health & fertility counsellor who can provide support throughout all stages of the infertility journey. A professional counsellor can help you cope with any fertility-related challenges that may arise and can help you find ways to keep your relationship strong while you build your family.

Learn More

If you would like to read more on how to support your partner and keep your relationship strong during infertility, have a look at the patient education sections of the websites for The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and RESOLVE.

Holly Yager, Registered Clinical Counsellor, Well Woman CounsellingHolly Yageris aRegistered Clinical Counsellorand aCanadian Certified Counsellorin Vancouver B.C. with a specialized focus onreproductive health and fertility counsellingfor women and couples. Holly has been a counsellor for over 10 years and is the owner/director ofWell Woman Counselling, which she established in 200