Jun 8 2022 | By Kacie Shrock, Registered Fertility Nurse
This is part-one of a two-part blog series on how to support your partner while navigating fertility struggles. Here, we’ll specifically be highlighting how to support the partner who is undergoing fertility treatments.
World Infertility Awareness Month is celebrated every June starting on June 1st and is meant to increase awareness around fertility struggles faced by couples around the world. This was established to help spread awareness of infertility as a medical condition impacting millions in hopes that it will lead them to find appropriate diagnoses and treatment.
Is Infertility Common?
Infertility is a term used to describe couples who have not been able to conceive after having unprotected sex for one year (12 consecutive months). Most fertility providers will start to see patients over the age of 35 who have been trying for 6 months with no success.
Per the CDC, in the United States, among heterosexual women aged 15 to 49 years with no prior births, about 1 in 5 (19%) are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying (infertility). Infertility is not biased and can affect anyone and any couple. It also does not only affect women, but men as well.
How To Support Your Partner (The Patient) while Navigating Fertility Struggles
Navigating fertility struggles is extremely challenging. It is emotionally grueling on every party involved and physically grueling on the party impacted by treatment. It is all too easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated with what is going on around you, especially if this is all new to you.
In honor of World Infertility Awareness Month, we want to highlight some ways you can support your partner as she/they are going through fertility struggles and potential treatments.
Unless you have been through this before, or have a medical/fertility background, this is probably unfamiliar territory to both of you. It is important to make sure you are communicating with your partner and are openly having discussions about your plan of treatment. Being on the same page, especially when it comes to finances or how quickly you want to move forward, is key. Knowing what you both want and your thoughts on certain testing or treatments is very important before you see a specialist.
Be present and listen.
Sometimes, the best support you can get from someone is just to have them physically be there and listen to any concerns and fears you’d like to share. Your partner may need to vent or talk through difficult emotions and having you there as a listening ear can provide more support than one may truly realize. Be present and give them your time, this shows that you are invested in the plan together, as a unit.
Attend appointments with them.
Offer physical support and attend fertility appointments together. Nothing provides more support than comforting your partner during a blood work appointment or sitting next to them in the waiting room before a procedure. Fertility struggles can come with a lot of pokes, imaging, procedures, and more – although you may also need a test done here or there, showing your support by simply holding their hand and providing comforting words may be just what they need at that moment.
Be their biggest fan.
Celebrate each milestone of your fertility journey and cheer them on each step of the way! This journey can be very taxing and emotional and having you there just to remind them what a great job they are doing and to keep going may be the perfect reminder they need.
Know their love language.
A love language describes how people receive and express love, this can be different for everyone. The 5 different love languages include:
1.) Words of affirmation
2.) Quality time
3.) Physical touch
4.) Acts of service
5.) Receiving gifts
This is important because showing love to your partner is a powerful form of support. Doing so in a language that is the most meaningful to them might mean more than you could imagine. Love and support can be conveyed even in times when you are not able to be physically present to support them. For example, if you know your partner’s love language is words of affirmation and you have to miss an appointment, try sending them a supportive/loving text right before their scheduled appointment.
Make time for breaks.
It is important to take breaks both as a couple and as an individual. Making sure to take adequate time to rest and recoup physically and mentally can help with potential burnout and is highly recommended when going through high stress treatment phases. Plan a fun date day/night where you can step away from fertility appointments and spend time together having fun. Go to lunch at the park, spend the day at the beach, try out a new restaurant, go see a movie or check-out your local spa! Remember this is only part of your journey as a couple, not your entire relationship or existence.
During this World Infertility Awareness Month, I want you to know that you and your partner are not alone on this journey. Take time to sit down and discuss with one another the ways that you both feel most supported and aim to work together as teammates on this unexpected and challenging journey.
We, here at Premom, are always here for you. If you have any questions, you can always find us over in Ask An Expert or you can book a virtual consultation with one of our outstanding Premom Providers.