Infertility and Your Relationship

Expert Reviewer: 
Sari Eckler Cooper, LCSW

couple stressed over trouble conceiving a babyHaving a baby is one of the most exciting times in a couple's life, but for couples coping with infertility and infertility treatments, conceiving a baby can be trying. The physical, emotional and financial stress of infertility can, if you're not careful, hurt your relationship with your partner.

In fact, nearly one-fourth of women in a recent survey conducted by the nonprofit organization HealthyWomen reported that infertility had a negative impact on their relationships. The good news is that about a third of women in that same survey said their infertility struggle actually benefited their relationships with their partners.

Other good news:

  • About three-fourths of women say their partners were very or extremely supportive while they went through infertility treatment
  • Ninety percent of women are still with the same partner they were with when they went through infertility treatment. Those that separated said the treatments were not a major reason for the breakup.

The tips and information contained here will help you and your partner remain in that 90 percent group—emerging from your infertility journey with your relationship not only intact but stronger, regardless of what happens in your quest for a child.

Avoiding Blame

So you just got the diagnosis. Your husband's sperm are "slow." Or your endometriosis has blocked one of your fallopian tubes. Or the infection your husband had during his bachelor days damaged many of his sperm. It would be easy to turn to one another and shout, "It's your fault!" But the reality is that no matter who plays the blame game, you both lose.

Does it really matter whose "fault" it is? After all, this is not something you have much control over. And it may be too late to change the few things you might have once controlled, such as trying to conceive when you were younger. The reality is what you're facing today: Having a baby is going to be more difficult for the two of you than for many other couples.

To keep from turning down the blame lane:

  • Reassure your partner that you are both in it together
  • Remember how you feel about your partner, why you love him or her, why you want to have a child together.
  • Talk about your frustration and anger openly. Studies show that couples who keep their feelings hidden are much more likely to have problems related to the stress of infertility.
  • Attack the infertility issue as a united front. That means going to appointments together, coping with side effects together, grieving together, sharing the news together with friends and family.

Keeping Your Relationship Healthy

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