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Relationships and communication when trying to conceive

19 August 2020

For 1 in 6 couples trying to conceive, pregnancy doesn’t come easily. In fact, there is only about 20 per cent chance of pregnancy each month. This can bring feelings of guilt, shame, and add stress, conflict and tension to an experience that should be full of joy.

In this article, we talk about common misunderstandings of couples facing fertility problems and give you 5 communication strategies to keep the relationship strong.

Common misunderstandings faced by couples trying to conceive

Coping with circumstances

Everyone experiences and responds to challenges differently. Some people may want to talk about it, analyse it and express their emotions. Others may become quieter and process it internally. It doesn’t mean one is overreacting or the other doesn’t care as much. These are just different ways of coping with what is happening.

How much to tell others about infertility

When trying to conceive as a couple, you may have different opinions on whether to tell family and friends about what you are going through. It is natural to seek comfort from your support network. However, it is also normal to feel this is too personal to share. Decisions about how much to share and with whom to share it with need to be discussed and made together.

Intimacy stress

When couples are timing intercourse to their fertile window, there is an increase in sexual dysfunction. What starts off as being fun, can quickly become a source of stress and tension. It’s important to continue engaging in intimate moments with your partner throughout the month. Maybe a bubble bath or a couples’ massage can get you started! You can also try mindful sex, where you are focusing on what is happening in the moment, noticing your partners’ skin, the smell, bodily sensations, the way he/she makes you feel.

Fear of abandonment

Infertility is not anyone’s ‘fault’. In fact, there is an equal percentage of causes of male factor and female factor infertility. However, some people are still afraid that their partner will leave for someone else who doesn’t have fertility problems. It’s important to talk about your partner about your fears in open and caring communication.

When to seek medical help

Couples may have different views about when to seek medical help. You may find yourself having different views about how long to try naturally for, when to seek for help, what treatments to consider and how long to try them for. Making decisions as a couple requires good communication, understanding, and sometimes compromise.

5 communication strategies for couples trying to conceive

Actively listen to your partner

When talking about these important topics, give each other undivided attention. Get rid of mobile phones, turn off TV, face towards your partner and actively listen. Make sure you have enough time to talk and are in a neutral and comfortable space. Give your partner the opportunity to be heard without interruptions.

Avoid labelling or judging

We all perceive the world differently. Often what we are trying to communicate gets lost in translation and is perceived in a different way by the other person. Clarify the message you are receiving by stating the facts, without labelling, judging or providing an interpretation that might be wrong. For example, “I realize you don’t want to seek medical help yet”. This is a factual observation without any interpretation

Communicate your feelings

Disagreements can develop from hidden emotions. It is important that you communicate your feelings and express them in a non-judgemental way. You can do this by using “I” statements. Instead of saying “YOU did this and it made me angry”, try instead “I feel hurt when THIS occurred”.

Express your needs

When you express your needs clearly, you are giving your partner an opportunity to decide whether he/she can meet them. For example, “I would like to seek medical help to see if there is a problem keeping us from getting pregnant”. Use a neutral and caring tone to clarify your needs.

Make physical contact

Physical contact whilst communicating, like touching your partner's hand, or stroking their arm promotes the release of oxytocin. This hormone is involved in bonding and helps develop trust between people. It also acts as an anti-stress agent and promotes cooperation.

In conclusion, communicating when trying to conceive can be challenging, but using these strategies above you will be able to express your thoughts and feelings better, will be able to understand your partner and others around you and will be able to find the answer to the most challenging decisions you have to make.

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