IVF stress and infertility go hand in hand. Research has found an increase in sexual dysfunction—for both men and women—when assisted reproductive technology and IVF are pursued. Infertility is often the first major crisis that couples go through together.
The repeated doctor’s office visits for infertility treatments can be somewhat traumatizing when you aren’t used to having so much focus on your vagina, uterus, hormones, and body weight and overall health. Dates with “wanda” for follicle scans and embryo transfers, pessaries and suppositories of progesterone, bruises and bloating from repeated injections, can all conspire to make you feel less than sexy, or downright traumatized!
You may be reluctant to add one more person into the mix, but therapists that specialize in infertility, sex, and couples therapy could help guide and support you through the isolation and despair that infertility can bring. You can learn to use the power of the mind-body connection to reduce stress, and guided visualization programs are a great way for couples to reconnect, they are scientifically designed to improve your fertility by helping to reduce anxiety and reconnect with your body’s natural rhythms. One popular program for this is the Natural Cycle For Fertility Program, by Circle and Bloom.
Because sex is also a way to feel closer to your partner, IVF stress and infertility can lead clearly lead to tension in your overall relationship. Add to that, the financial burden of infertility.
-Disagreements over whether to pursue treatment (due to costs)
-When and how to borrow money
-To ask friends and family (or not) for financial help (like through crowdfunding)
-Whether to skip treatments and go straight to adoption (which is also expensive).
While some research has found that men and women faced with infertility may be more likely to feel dissatisfied with themselves and their marriages, other studies have found that it can bring couples closer together.
Couples that grow closer together don’t just “breeze through” infertility and they DO struggle.
I is the struggle—and the need for mutual support—that leads to a more secure bond.
We found some great tips and strategies for managing relationship stress on the Resolve website, and here are a few others: don’t isolate yourself, keep romance alive, relax together AND apart, be mindful, ask for support.
Support groups – such as those facilitated by Lori Metz can be invaluable for helping to cope with the biological, psychological, and social impact of infertility.