Fembryo Fertility Clinic Blog

Advice for couples 

struggling with male infertility

Infertility puts individuals under enormous emotional stress and relationships under great strain. Trying to conceive may create tension, and even conflict, but it can also bring couples closer. Let’s take a look at some of the challenges you could face, followed by 6 ways to reduce the impact of fertility on your relationship.

Potential relationship challenges

Trying to conceive can put a strain on your sex life. Initially, whispering “Let’s make a baby” may be exciting, but after months of unsuccessful attempts it can become a phrase you’d rather avoid. Couples who are trying to time intercourse for their most fertile period often experience added stress in their sexual relationship. Research shows that both men and women may encounter difficulties in the bedroom when trying to get pregnant through timed intercourse. On top of that, the stress affecting your intimate life can spill over into your overall relationship, causing tension between you and your partner.

When to get help
Determining the right time to seek help can be a topic of contention. While your doctor’s perspective may provide clear guidelines, disagreements arise when one person believes it’s necessary to seek assistance immediately, while the other prefers to wait. Such contrasting viewpoints can potentially give rise to conflicts within couples.

Telling others
Deciding whether or not to share your fertility struggle with others is a decision that needs to be made together. If both partners are in agreement about who to confide in and whether to share at all, it can be beneficial. However, if there is a disagreement, the situation can become complex. The partner who prefers not to share may be grappling with feelings of shame or embarrassment. They might perceive infertility as an intensely personal matter, making it difficult for them to open up to others. On the other hand, the partner who desires to discuss the challenges of fertility with others may experience a sense of isolation and a lack of social support. This can exacerbate the difficulties of coping with infertility itself, potentially leading to resentment towards the partner who insists on keeping things confidential and amplifying tension within the relationship.

The fear of being abandoned by a partner due to infertility is a common and deeply-rooted concern that often remains unexpressed. Many individuals keep this fear hidden from their partner. It is important to recognise that if your relationship is otherwise strong, infertility is unlikely to lead to a break up. Overcoming this fear begins with open communication. It is crucial to have an honest conversation with your partner about your anxieties and worries.

Questions may arise about who is bearing the greater weight: the person undergoing numerous invasive fertility tests or the one experiencing feelings of fault and self-blame due to their infertility. These comparisons can contribute to tensions and resentment. It is crucial to establish open and compassionate communication within your relationship, fostering an environment where both partners’ experiences and emotions are validated and acknowledged.

Diverse coping styles
Stress manifests differently in each individual and research has revealed gender disparities in coping mechanisms when it comes to infertility. These differences can give rise to misunderstandings within couples. For instance, if one partner’s coping style is more restrained, the other may accuse them of “not caring enough”. Conversely, if one partner’s coping style is more expressive, they may be accused of “overreacting”. These varying approaches can create friction and miscommunication. Recognising that individuals may respond to stress differently allows for greater understanding and support.

Financial disagreements are not exclusive to couples dealing with infertility, but the unique expenses associated with fertility treatments often exacerbate tensions related to money. Co-payments, uncovered tests and treatments, travel costs to fertility clinics, and missed work due to procedures and appointments can all contribute to financial strain. It is crucial for couples to have open and honest conversations about the financial aspects of infertility, to find common ground while exploring available options.

Next steps
Disagreements regarding fertility treatment, including the consideration of IVF or other assisted reproductive technologies, can arise. These disagreements may involve financial concerns or discomfort with the treatments themselves. Couples may also find themselves at odds when deciding whether or not to take a temporary break from testing and treatment, and they may have conflicting views on whether to persist in their efforts or explore alternative paths, such as adoption or a child-free lifestyle. 


6 Ways to reduce the the impact of infertility on your relationship

1. Communicate

Open communication is vital in navigating the emotional landscape of infertility. By actively listening to each other, validating feelings, and adjusting the level of discussion as needed, couples can foster a healthy and understanding environment in which they can address infertility together.

2. Stay connected
Amidst the whirlwind of fertility testing and treatment, it’s crucial to prevent infertility from consuming all aspects of your communication as a couple. Make a conscious effort to connect with each other in alternative ways to maintain balance and strengthen your relationship in the challenges you face.

3. Emotional support
Each person copes with experiences in their own unique way, and it is not fair to judge someone’s level of care based solely on appearances or actions. Not everyone expresses their emotions openly or in the same way, and what may seem like an overreaction to one person could be a genuine and valid response for another. Emotional pain is deeply personal, and offering unconditional support to each other, without preconditions or comparisons, is the path to fostering peace and understanding.

4. A support network
Dealing with infertility can be an isolating and emotionally challenging experience. The weight of shame often prevents individuals and couples from reaching out for the support they need. However, research has shown that receiving social support significantly improves relationships and is particularly beneficial for women facing infertility.

5. Plan
Research suggests that developing a practical plan of action can significantly improve marital satisfaction, particularly for men. Although infertility may not lend itself easily to detailed planning, there are still steps you can take to establish short-term, flexible plans, potential financial needs and a foundation of support.

6. Find middle ground
When faced with disagreements in matters like disclosing infertility or managing the financial aspects of treatment cycles, it is essential to avoid black-and-white thinking and find a compromise that respects the needs and desires of both partners.

When it comes to infertility, it’s essential to reach out and consult with fertility specialists who will provide you with the guidance and support you need. The Fembryo team have the knowledge and experience to diagnose accurately, create personalised treatment plans, and be an invaluable support throughout your fertility journey.