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A male perspective - how to cope with the strains of TTC as a couple.

9 October 2020

If you’re having fertility issues, the chances are that might not be the only problem you're facing as, so often, having difficulties trying to fall pregnant can also put all manner of strains on a relationship. Here’s a look at some of the most common flashpoints, and how to avoid them.

Sex has become a chore

A classic result of fertility problems is when the most loving act you and your partner could ever perform, suddenly becomes a dreaded, functional exercise that neither of you enjoy.

Try to put the fun back into your sex life by forgetting about schedules and ovulation timings. A good, old-fashioned date night or other romantic gestures can also help. “It might be worthwhile to take a month off if it’s ruining your sex life, ruining your relationship, or affecting your intimacy with each other,” says Dr Puneet Masson of Penn Fertility Care. “Just forget about this and really try to focus on your health together as a couple.”

You only talk to each other about getting pregnant

Another common relationship problem is that over-focusing and over-thinking about your fertility issue can have the effect of leaving you feeling drained, and almost as if you and your partner no longer have anything else in common.

You have to make an effort to try to connect with each other in different ways, maybe with things that you used to enjoy doing together, or perhaps by taking up a new hobby or pastime as a couple. Changing the focus is crucial, and will help you both remember why you’re together and trying to have children in the first place.

You’re both avoiding talking about the problem

The opposite end of the spectrum now, where couples pretend that everything is perfectly fine and they’re not having issues getting pregnant at all. Not talking about the problem is most definitely a problem for any couple.

Without stating the obvious, it’s absolutely essential to address any issues you may be having falling pregnant - not talking about it, will not magically make it disappear. Once you’ve talked about it together, help is available in many forms and that could go a long way to saving your relationship. "If an issue is identified, the couple has identified it in a timely manner and will not be wasting months more of frustration in fighting a futile battle to conceive," says Dr Brauer.

One of you resents the other because “it’s their fault”

In most couples’ arguments, one partner will always feel like they are right and their partner is wrong - although having fertility problems is not a domestic dispute, the same is true as one partner can often feel like they are being blamed which leads to resentment for both parties.

While this is an easy trap to fall into, talking to each other about how you really feel will avoid resentment breeding. “Avoiding guilt and blame and supporting one another through a potentially tough time will make success easier to achieve and even sweeter to enjoy," says Dr Anate Brauer, assistant professor of obstetrics at NYU School of Medicine.

You’re both permanently stressed with each other

All couples can have their stressful moments, but when you’ve been trying but failing to conceive, the pressure can become intense, leading to you both feeling irritable, short-tempered and fed up with each other.

Intense stress causes your body to release a load of cortisol, which can have a negative impact on your body, and also make you feel anxious or depressed - all of which is bad news for your relationship. Exercise is a great way to combat your stress levels - if going for a run, or hitting the gym is not your thing, studies have shown that breathing exercises can have a huge impact on relieving your stress symptoms, and is something you and your partner could do together.

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