We've both spent years working with infertile patients and found that this area can really make or break a relationship. Because so many women with endometriosis suffer from some form of infertility, you and your loved one may face this problem as well. Please believe us when we say that your life (and relationship) can be easier if you face the challenges together.
Finding out that you may have trouble conceiving can be devastating. Most people assume that having children is an inalienable right and they're shocked to find out it may not be that easy. Families dealing with infertility go through all the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, and rationalization before acceptance and dealing with the problem face on. (See Chapter 7 for a complete rundown on infertility issues that endometriosis can cause.)
What can you do to help your partner through this difficult time of trying to get pregnant? You can show the same support as you do with the rest of her problems (check out "Helping without being a pain" earlier in this chapter), plus a few more:
1 Avoid the blame game. Your partner feels bad enough about the infertility. Don't make the matter worse by pointing your finger. Besides, infertility can have many factors, including problems on your part.
1 Keep a positive attitude. Endometriosis doesn't mean you'll never have children; treatments are available to help you.
1 Expect mood swings if your partner is on hormone medication. Yes, more mood swings! Mood swings are inevitable when you're taking potent hormones.
1 Understand the elements of the process. You may find parts of the infertility treatment highly unpleasant, such as giving your partner injections and producing semen on demand in the doctor's office. But when you understand why certain steps are necessary, you may accept them more easily.
1 Be aware that infertility treatments can change sex from enjoyment to duty. Try to keep the romance in sex when you're in the middle of fertility treatments. Your partner may be so focused on the end result (a baby) that she can't see the forest for the trees. Sexual pleasure may be the last thought on her mind when she says, "Tonight's the night!" You may need to make the evening enjoyable and pleasurable, despite the timetable.
Infertility treatments add another layer of pressure to a life that's already stressful. For example, just knowing that you have to give your partner injections can cause your stress level to go through the roof when you're already concerned about the expense, the travel time, lost time from work, the emotional toll, and whether or not the treatment will work.
The middle of infertility treatments isn't the time to remodel the bathroom, plan a cross-country move, or start a new business. Keep outside distractions to a minimum, and both of you will be in much better shape to deal with the stresses of parenthood in a few months! (For more information on fertility issues, check out Fertility For Dummies by Jackie Meyers-Thompson and yours truly, Sharon Perkins [Wiley].)
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