The importance of communication The loss of fertility can take a toll on relationships. The need to steer clear of certain functions (ie, baby showers, birthdays, family dinners) can become primal, often causing unspoken resentment or feelings of inadequacy. Let patients and caregivers know that they should give themselves permission to decline these invitations or at the very least to have a good cry afterward. If friends and family have been kept in the dark, it may be helpful for the patient to educate them about what they have been going through. Remind patients that this is an opportunity to offer insight and explain how certain comments, though innocent and unintentional, may be insensitive. Doing so can help friends and family learn how to offer support during the tough times. Staying connected in this way to family and friends who can offer their love and support can be monumentally healing.
Teamwork Encourage patients who are in a relationship to help support one another. The loss of fertility is a challenging situation that can bring on many ups and downs that can change from day to day. This means that partners and spouses will not always feel the same feelings at the same time. This is normal! Working as a team to find ways of staying connected and supporting one another—go for a walk, hold hands, or make and share in a meal together—is important.
Get support Remind patients that they are not alone! For some, the loss of fertility may seem secondary to cancer, but for others, it is just as devastating. At times these losses go unnoticed, which only adds to the feelings of shame and isolation. As difficult as this is to remember, there are people out there who want to help. Finding somewhere to talk with people who understand, whether through friends, family, professional counseling, or support groups, can help patients and caregivers feel less alone and build hope for the future that lies ahead.