If you’re a guy embarking on an IVF journey with your partner, it can sometimes be hard to know how best to be there for them. You might feel a little lost, or like a spare part or overwhelmed by the desire to protect your partner when they’re taking so much on physically and emotionally.
Assisted fertility journeys are rarely easy, but together you will get through it.
Here are 6 ways to support your partner through the IVF process.
One of the most important things you can do when embarking on an IVF journey is to get informed. Understanding the process of IVF and the hormones, tests and cycles involved can feel overwhelming - and if your partner feels like they are having to educate you as well as themselves, that could lead to tension!
Now, no one is expecting you to become an embryologist overnight, but learning about the different stages of an IVF cycle is a great place to start. ExSeed recently interviewed
Embryologist Vladimi Ovsyankin and he explained what is involved at each stage of the IVF process*
If you’re helping your partner inject their hormones (another great way to be a support) then it can also be helpful to get your head around the different hormones that need to be taken or administered and at what times.
Be Present and Proactive In Appointments
Many men report feeling sidelined during the IVF process, especially during appointments - and that’s not fair or right. However, if this happens, don’t let that deter you from being involved.
Take the intiative, be proactive in the conversation and ask informed questions so that your partner knows you are engaged and present. This will help them feel supported by you.
If you ever feel stuck, here are a few suggested things you should be asking when choosing a clinic or at your first few appointments:
● What are your success rates with our specific type of fertility struggle?
● Do you offer counselling or another form of emotional support?
● Are there any hidden costs involved for add-ons?
● Does your clinic perform fresh or frozen embryo transfers?
● What will happen to any embryos not used?
● What can we do at home to improve our chances?
● What should I do to help my partner before/after the transfer?
Make Healthy Living A Team Sport
When preparing for treatment, there is usually a lot of pressure put on female partners to prepare themselves for embryo transfer and (hopefully!) pregnancy. But as a man, it’s still really important that you are focusing on your health to make sure your sperm is of the highest quality it can be, even if you’re not struggling with male factor infertility.
During this time, try to make a healthy living fun and enjoyable, and something that you do together. Whether that’s trying out healthy recipes with fertility superfoods, getting more active by going on daily walks together or inviting your partner on dates that lower stress levels, like a couple’s yoga class - there are so many ways you can make healthy living a team sport.
Learn To Just Listen
There are lots of challenges that come with the process of IVF - both practical and emotional. If you are a solution-driven person, as many men are, you might show your love and affection by trying to solve every problem that comes your way. But with a fertility journey, that’s not always possible.
No matter how much you may want to, you can’t ‘solve’ a failed IVF cycle or another setback that’s out of your control.
If your partner is struggling and wants to talk to you about their feelings, try to practice listening rather than suggesting solutions. This might not come naturally and be hard, but sometimes all a person needs is a sympathetic ear.
Also, never assume that you know what the best solution to your partner’s pain is.
Asking the question ‘What can I do to help and support you right now?” is pretty powerful.
But Share Your Feelings Too
Listening is important, but so is talking about your feelings. During a fertility journey, men are often made to feel that they have to be the ‘strong ones’ for their partners and to keep their emotions under control. But the truth is that sometimes your partner will find comfort in you sitting in their grief or sadness with them - and opening up will help you too.
Vulnerability is essential in nurturing a strong bond between you and your partner, so don’t be afraid to talk about your fears and disappointment too. If you find it difficult to articulate your feelings, writing them down in a journal or a letter to your partner might be a really helpful exercise. Here are some prompts to get you started:
● Struggling with a fertility journey has me feel ……………………….. about myself
● My biggest fear is…………………………………………
● The time I felt most sad was……………………………..
● Seeing you hurting makes me feel……………………...
Take Control Of Your Own Fertility
If you’ve engaged a fertility clinic you would hope that they would be investigating your fertility as much as your partners.
However, all too often, if there is an obvious reason for female factor infertility (such as PCOS or Endometriosis), it’s assumed everything is ok with the male side of things. But the truth is that male factor factors contribute to almost half of infertility cases - even if there are female factors at play too.
If your clinicians are leaving you out of investigations, we encourage you to push for those all-important tests.
You can also use the ExSeed completely at-home sperm test ** to get to know your swimmers yourself. You can complete the test and receive your results in minutes and you can take your results report to your clinic - where they will be able to do any further investigations if things don’t look right.