Fertility concerns can be a sensitive discussion and should be approached with caution. If you and your spouse have been trying to conceive without success, then it is normal to begin wondering about fertility issues.
Fertility testing is best done as a couple. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG), this evaluation should be pursued when you have been trying for at least a year without success, or six months if you are over the age of 35. However, if you are still worried even sooner, there is no harm in wanting to consult with a doctor. Your doctor may recommend certain tests and scans to help understand why you may be having difficulty conceiving before recommending a selection of assisted reproductive treatments.
But before you can even book an appointment with your doctor, you need to figure out how best to raise the subject with your partner. This problem is common where one spouse is less concerned about the speed of conception than the other. This divergence of opinion can also make communicating effectively on the subject difficult. Fear that one may disappoint their partner by possibly being infertile can also drive such attitude. Here are a few ways to get the discussion going and hopefully foster more open and understanding communication.
1. Know Your Facts
It helps to ignite conversation when you have done the research. Even without visiting your doctor, you can learn some basic facts that will help to better inform your partner on fertility issues and persuade them to get a check-up. For instance, if you are an older couple or one of you has gone through a severe illness like cancer, the risk of infertility can be heightened. It is also worth noting that many fertility concerns can be treatable when correctly diagnosed, and the sooner the better.
2. Do It Now
Fertility issues are often time-sensitive. The sooner you seek a solution, the better your chances of finding one. As soon as you begin to feel infertility issues may be the reason behind your failure to conceive, you should start the discussion. Family planning should already have been part of your conversations even before you got married so this should really be just an ongoing part. Keep in mind however that attitudes and feelings can change with time. It is vital to keep checking in with each other and foster open communication.
3. Learn Your Options
There are varying degrees of infertility and multiple options on how to resolve them. Research has shown that in many traditional societies there are a range of misconceptions and myths that can cause confusion and wrongfully place blame. Do not allow yourselves to be misled. As you have open discussions on your perspectives on family planning and fertility, you should also learn about each other’s views on such myths and fertility treatments. Where you have doubts, seek clarification from your doctor. It is natural to be influenced by one’s life background, experiences, and knowledge, but where there is a shortfall, seeking clarification from someone that is better informed is best. Do not mock your partner for not knowing something, rather, encourage them to seek out the truth, with you by their side.
4. It Takes Two
Conception is a team effort. It is important to ensure the conversation is about both of you seeking to get medical help and finding a solution. Even if you suspect you or your spouse may be infertile, do not isolate yourself or them. Phrase the discussion in terms of ‘us’ and ‘we’ so your partner knows you are in this together. Take time to listen keenly to your wife’s responses. You should be able to tell how much she values family and her willingness to take up the challenge alongside you. Sharing a common goal can help make it easier to plan how best to tackle the situation. This is a communal responsibility and you need to ensure you are both on the same page.
5. Be Honest
The reality of fertility concerns and family planning is that you do not always get what you want, the way you want it. This journey may be full of challenges and you need to accept that the good with the bad. With good communication, you should freely express your frustrations and other negative emotions to your partner, without feeling the need to sugar-coat or blame. Be prepared to share in disappointments as you would victories and allow yourselves to be open and vulnerable towards one another without judgement.
6. Be Positive
Even as you open up to each other, it is good to reinforce the positive aspects of your relationship. Remain supportive of one another and do not blame each other, no matter where the infertility issues lie. This will be a vulnerable time for both of you and it is advisable to keep reminding each other how much you love one another. This will be especially helpful in getting you through the tougher moments.
7. Don’t Give Up
Initial conversations about fertility often do not go well. It can be a scary subject for some so understanding is key. If the discussion gets too tough, you can take a break to regroup. Do not put so much pressure on your partner and allow her emotions to run high. Think about where the discussion may have gone off the rails and consider another approach to pick up on the subject again. Do not give up. The more communication you have, the more informed you will be on what you and your partners stand on issues is.
8. Seek Professional Help
Your doctor can be a big help in getting factual information that will guide your decisions. But this is not the only help you should consider. Dealing with the emotions and fears that come with infertility problems can be tough. Consider going for couples counselling so you have a safe space to discuss your trials and how circumstances may change your hopes for a family. This therapy can be instrumental in getting you through the challenges of fertility treatments and whatever outcome lies ahead. With professional help, you can better safeguard your relationship.