Stress associated with infertility can take a toll on your emotional well-being and add immense tension to your relationship. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to support your partner through IVF treatment. You may even find this challenging experience will strengthen your relationship and bring you closer as you fight to grow your family together.
1. Get IVF educated.
Knowledge is power, and that is especially true with IVF treatment. It’s important not to leave it all up to your partner and make an effort to learn about what you are both going through. Do your own research, read books, and ask questions so you can be an active participant in your treatment. Your partner will know you care and are committed to truly supporting her, and you will have better discussions with your fertility team. Arming yourself with information and being prepared as a cohesive unit will relieve some of the stress you are feeling individually.
2. Be an active participant.
It’s your journey too! If allowed by your fertility clinic, partners are always encouraged to join in as much as possible. Go along for each doctor consultation and monitoring visit, even when it’s not required. Listen carefully to what your doctor and fertility team say, it can be overwhelming to absorb and understand on your own. As a team, you can reinforce what you heard and help each other process it better.
You can also play an active role by:
➢ Asking your fertility team questions from your unique perspective
➢ Reminding your partner to take her medications each day
➢ Preparing and administering her fertility injections
➢ Coordinating invoices and insurance payments
➢ If traveling, take care of the airline tickets and hotel arrangements
➢ Reassuring her you are there to hold her up at a moment's notice!
3. Ensure you are on the same page for your treatment goals.
Talk with your partner regularly to make sure are in agreement about some of the big IVF decisions. For example, a few items important to discuss are how many IVF attempts to make, all treatment options you are willing to consider, and how much money to spend. Discussing what you can both handle and your ultimate goals in the face of obstacles will help you make more informed decisions about what is best for your situation.
4. Share your feelings and listen.
Your partner wants to know they are not alone in this. Encourage her to share her feelings by sharing yours. She wants to know what you are genuinely thinking and feeling about treatment, so don’t minimize your feelings to spare her. She doesn’t need you to fix things or suggest solutions. Knowing you can empathize even the slightest with what she is going through is more meaningful.
Ask open-ended questions, and make sure to listen to the answers. Here are some suggestions to get the conversation flowing:
➢ What are some ideas for the best ways I can support you?
➢ What do you think of our physician and/or fertility team?
➢ How are the medications making you feel?
➢ What are you concerned about for the treatment?
5. Schedule fun dates to stay connected!
Taking a break from the stress of trying to conceive and fertility treatment, even if just for a couple of hours, brings levity and can make it easier to move forward with renewed vigor. While undergoing IVF, day trips or brief outings are better than long vacations, but the possibilities to escape are endless. Visit a museum, go on a picnic in the park, take a cooking class, walk on the beach, volunteer at an animal shelter, or head to a comedy show for the evening to name a few options. Remembering how to connect and have fun together is vital to not letting fertility treatment consume you.
6. Take some of the day-to-day responsibilities off her plate.
Studies have shown that women perform the majority of household chores, even in this age when most women have careers as well. Stepping in to help balance chores will take some pressure off so she can focus more on getting through treatment and hopefully, add in some self-care. Take on things you don’t normally do and be an active partner while she takes the brunt of the physical side of things with IVF. Step up by going grocery shopping and making meals, cleaning and laundry, walking and feeding pets, picking up prescriptions, coordinating invoices and insurance payments, and much more.
7. Pamper your partner!
Most partners would offer to switch places if they could, but short of a Freaky Friday situation, the next best thing to offer is showing them how special they are. Any little thing you can do to let her know you are going through this too and are there for her will help. Unexpected flowers, a relaxing massage, a romantic candlelight dinner, or even a simple sticky note telling her that she is loved and appreciated can be hugely uplifting during IVF. No matter how small the gesture, the reward of your partner knowing you truly care is invaluable.
8. Tell her you care.
Simple enough right? You may think it goes without saying that you love and appreciate your wife. Of course, you do! But this is absolutely one of those times when she needs to hear it. Along with the physical and emotional effects IVF can bring, your wife’s self-esteem is likely suffering. Be genuine and express your admiration for her strength, courage, and resolve. Tell her how wonderful she is and that she is handling all of this really well. Remind her how much you love her and that you are in this together.
9. Don’t be afraid to tell your partner that you think it’s time for more support.
If IVF treatment is increasing the tension in your relationship, suggest professional counseling. She may feel the same way. Search for someone who specializes in reproductive mental health so they can guide you through your concerns with more insight and understanding. Many couples opt to go together, but either of you can pursue individual counseling for whatever works best for your needs.
Many of these actions may feel small to you, but they can have a significant impact on how the IVF experience unfolds. Your partner will be able to cope better knowing you are by her side, and she will appreciate your efforts to lift her when she may be feeling down. Taking steps to ensure a strong and healthy relationship through IVF will make the ups and downs easier and keep you moving together toward your fertility goals.
Embrace Fertility offers IVF Cycle Coaching and expert 1:1 Fertility Support. Click here to learn more.