According to new research released today from the US (University of California, San Francisco), young women seeking fertility treatment, may experience a negative impact on their sex lives. The research also explored how couples with infertility have significantly more anxiety, depression and stress and this can have an ongoing effect on their quality of life and the health of a marriage.
Here at the Harley Street Fertility Clinic, we ensure that we minimise any stress for couples seeking treatment by offering a range of holistic services, providing flexible appointments and making sure that you are treated by the same healthcare team. However, we know that being treated for a fertility problem can sometimes feel like a full time job and it’s often difficult to ‘switch off’.
If you and your partner are about to embark on treatment, the Harley Street Fertility Clinic has put together the Patient Guide below to support and advise you both on how to cope with the journey ahead. After all, being in optimum health both physically and mentality can have a huge impact on the outcome of your treatment.
Talk to each other
– It may be a cliché, but good communication is the key to a strong relationship. No one will know better than your partner what you are going through, so keeping them in the loop of how you’re feeling is crucial, it’s also highly likely that they’re feeling the same way too. So, don’t distance yourselves from one another but talk to each other in a way that is non-critical and non-judgemental. Communication is vital throughout the whole process – don’t stop sharing your thoughts and concerns if things are not going the way you had hoped.
Don’t place blame, work together
– It’s normal at times to feel slightly stressed, sad or even overwhelmed during the fertility process. Don’t chastise yourselves or one another for feeling this way. Facing and accepting your emotions can help you move beyond them. One or both partners may blame the other for their infertility issues and this in turn can cause problems. Try working together as a team instead of being on opposite sides – help each other through this time. By taking care of each other emotionally, you can work through most problems.
– There is power in knowledge. Many patients can feel a sense of powerlessness during treatment, educating yourselves on aspects of the process can help you feel and regain control. Read-up beforehand and ask questions to your medical team. Make sure that you both know as much as each-other and do not leave one partner in the dark. Both of you need to know what is happening medically in order to make informed decisions. Consult with your doctor or former patients to educate yourselves on the process you are going through. The more you both know and understand, the less stress you are both likely to feel.
– Every couple is different. Some decide that they won’t go to extreme measures to have a baby, whereas others spend time and money exploring their options. You’ll feel more in control if you set your limits in advance regarding what measures you are prepared to take.
– It is easy to know how you will feel if treatment is successful and you become pregnant. However, you must also understand that if you are unsuccessful in achieving a pregnancy, you cannot get away from the sadness, loss, and disappointment that you will feel. Think about the number of cycles you are willing or able to do, and how much time and money you are willing to invest. Sit down with each other and develop a financial plan to allay any monetary concerns.
Don’t let it consume all your time
– Being treated for a fertility problem can sometimes feel like a full time job, so it’s important to make sure you’re still taking time out to do the other activities that you love and perhaps even bought you together in the first place. So, don’t neglect hobbies that bring you and your partner pleasure. This will also help to take your mind off the treatment. Spending time with your partner will remind yourselves on why you’re together.
– As time goes by, couples can start to feel like they’re losing hope, and this emotion can be all-consuming. Try planning a ‘date night’ once a week and make an effort to talk about different things.
Agree who you’d like to tell
– Telling friends and family may act as support for some people, whereas others may feel it puts them under more pressure. Make sure that both you and your partner are happy with who knows what and when. Decide in advance who you will tell about your procedures and identify key friends and family who will provide you with the support you need.
Discuss any sacrifices you may need to make and your options
– It best to avoid as much stress as possible in other areas of your life. Important decisions, such as a house move or a new job, may need to be put on hold to avoid additional stress. You both need to be aware, and most of all, happy with this at the start of your journey.
Prepare for decision making
– It’s important to anticipate decisions that are likely to arise during your treatment and it may be easier for you and your partner if these are made ahead of time. Consider the implications and have a plan if fertility treatment doesn’t work out. Whilst heartbreak and sadness may be unavoidable, it will be easier knowing that you and your partner feel the same way.