Compared to other fertility treatment options, in vitro fertilization (IVF) has great success rates. However, it’s often an emotionally and physically intense process, especially for the female partner. Here are six ways to support your other half as you both navigate this process.

Be there emotionally

Your first reaction to a problem may be a desire to fix it. In this case, listening with empathy and making the space for a good vent will help your partner feel understood and loved. Leave all lines of communication open – be honest with each other about your feelings, and ask what you can do to support her during this time.

Do the research

As you embark on this journey, you’ll be met with a lot of acronyms, numbers and medication names. Going to your appointments prepared will help you both get more out of them. Do your research in advance, including success rates for cases like yours and treatment options, and prepare a list of questions to ask your reproductive endocrinologist. It helps to take notes during your appointment, too, so that you can go through them later, in your own time.

Manage the admin

There are plenty of roles you can take during this process, and each stage may require a specific focus. Scheduling appointments, taking notes, keeping track of test results and medication, and dealing with insurance: the admin part of the IVF process can be intense and your partner will appreciate all the support. Speak to your partner and delegate responsibilities so that nothing is missed.

Be aware of the physical changes

During this time, your partner will be navigating through the physical effects of fertility treatment. The prescribed hormones may cause side effects, such as nausea, fatigue and for some, even pain. Many also feel bloated and uncomfortable throughout the process. She may also experience cramping for a day or two after the egg retrieval and the embryo transfer. Taking on some of the load at home will help her focus on her wellbeing.

Remind her you’re a team

It’s so easy to dive deep into the blame game, either by resenting your partner or pinning the blame on yourself. A good way to cope is to decide on a way forward as a team, and to seek outside help when needed. A good couple’s therapist, especially one specialized in infertility, can give you the tools needed to get through this process successfully as a couple.

Check in often

Are you both still on the same page? Is your partner ok to go ahead with treatment? The physical effects of fertility treatment can be difficult to manage. Ask if she wants to take a break, or change course. If you’ve experienced a failed embryo transfer, ask her what she wants to do next. Respect her decision and support her to take the next step, be it a break or another IVF round.

Don’t forget yourself

IVF has many physical effects on the female partner and she’ll need your support. But the emotional and psychological impact of treatment falls on you both. As you support your partner, keep your wellbeing in mind, too. Seek individual help when needed and surround yourself with others who understand what you are going through – you cannot pour from an empty cup.

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