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TAMPA, Fla. – The holidays may be the most wonderful time of the year, but for couples who are struggling with infertility, the season can be fraught with stress and discomfort.

The season brings toy commercials, parties and family gatherings with lots of children. And while nieces, nephews and the children of close friends are a joy to be with, spending time with them can be a painful reminder that getting pregnant isn’t always easy. Add to that well-intentioned relatives who ask uncomfortable questions, and it’s easy to see why couples might want to avoid holiday events all together.

“The holidays are a challenge,” said Dr. Sandy Goodman of The Reproductive Medicine Group. “There’s no easy way to cope. But it’s important to remember that even though you don’t have a child, you are still part of a family.”

For couples who are trying to get pregnant or undergoing fertility treatments, Dr. Goodman suggests five ways to cope during the holidays.

  1. Have a Script– Chances are, someone will ask when you plan to start a family. Decide in advance how you’ll deal with that question, and whether you wish to share your fertility struggle with others. You can reply with something as simple as, “We’re working on it!” and leave it at that.
  1. Celebrate Children– This might seem counterintuitive, but while you and your partner might not have a child just yet, do your best to enjoy the children who are in your life. Being an aunt, an uncle or a mentor to a child is a relationship to be cherished. However, if attending events with children is a stressor, consider spending only a limited time, or being selective about the number of events that you attend.
  1. Focus on the Positives – New treatments in infertility bring new successes every day. Concentrate on the possibilities that the New Year brings and have faith that your dream of becoming a parent will be a reality.
  1. Stay Connected – Avoid being isolated during the holidays. It’s completely normal to feel positive one day, but in a funk the next. This is the time to utilize your support network, whether that’s a friend or family member. Give them a call and ask for a pep talk, or take part in an activity that you enjoy.
  1. Take a Break – There’s nothing wrong with putting your treatment plan on hold for a month or two during the holiday season. The rest can provide you and your partner with a fresh perspective and a fresh start.

The pain of infertility can be difficult, but making some simple adjustments will help make the holidays as stress-free as possible.