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How do couples dealing with fertility issues feel?

A diagnosis of infertility is hard for a couple to receive. The unexpected realization that you have a fertility problem can create a great deal of stress and frustration. Dealing with infertility can make you feel out of control and that the next step in your life is blocked.

Many couples dealing with infertility aren't prepared for the emotional roller coaster of grief, loss and guilt of infertility treatments. The layers of stress are multiple: financial, professional, personal and social.

It would be easy to turn to one another and shout, "It's your fault!" But the reality is that any time you play the blame game, you both lose.

There are ways to protect your relationship from the potentially damaging stress of infertility:

  • Focus on yourselves. Remember that the two of you came first, before any thought of a baby. Even if you do have a child, the two of you still need to be a healthy couple before you can be good parents.
  • Schedule non-infertility dates. On these dates, neither of you is allowed to talk about children, infertility, medical treatments, adoption or anything to do with what you're going through.
  • Bring spontaneity back into sex. Have sex dates that are not focused on reproducing. The key is to make it fun so that you banish the "work" that sex can become.
  • Take a break. You and your partner might consider taking a month-long break from trying to get pregnant. Reducing the stress and anxiety in your sexual relationship now will ensure that your sex life will remain a source of pleasure and relaxation for years to come.
  • Get physical together. Exercise is a fabulous stress buster.
  • Respect your differences. Each of you will deal with the situation differently. Just because he doesn't cry or talk for hours about the infertility doesn't mean he isn't hurting. Men are more likely to distance themselves from the issue and become irritable. Understand that this may be his way of coping.
  • Talk and be specific about your needs. If you have a hard time verbalizing your feelings, try writing them down in an e-mail or letter.
  • Set limits on how far you will go with fertility treatments.
  • Seek outside help. Even if you think your relationship will weather the infertility storm, it's still a good idea to talk to a couples' therapist. You also may consider joining a support group for people going through infertility treatments.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.