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Handling fertility treatments and work

Having fertility treatment of any kind can be mentally, emotionally and physically challenging. In addition to the challenges you may face while going through fertility treatment, you may also be trying to juggle work commitments and treatment appointments. Here we explore how to find a good balance and what rights you have. 

 

It can be difficult to juggle it all

Fertility treatments require multiple appointments with your fertility clinic. You may be able to attend online video consultations with your doctor, but you will need to attend the clinic for investigations, receiving and signing consents, multiple ultrasound monitoring appointments and appointments for any procedures. While some appointments are shorter, some procedures would require time off work. The Fertility Network conducted a survey in 2016 that revealed that 50% of respondents needed more than a week off of work.

 

It’s not an easy topic to talk about

Going through fertility treatment can create a range of complex emotions where some may feel uncomfortable sharing details of their treatment with employers and even with close friends or family. This can be due to a desire for privacy, some feel embarrassment about having fertility problems, some worry their employer won’t understand or that it might affect future career prospects. 

 

What can you do?

  • Figure out how much time you might need off
    It may be a good idea to speak to your consultant about how much time you may need to take off work to accommodate any treatment. 
  • Talk to your colleagues
    You may want to talk to your colleagues about any potential absence from work.
  • Talk to your boss or HR
    While you may not feel comfortable disclosing all of the details of any treatment, it may be a good idea to inform your place of work that you may need time off. Some workplaces may have a policy in place for taking time off for fertility treatment. In addition, clinics can provide a letter stating requirement for medical leave without providing specifics. 
  • Understand your rights
    If part of your treatment includes having an embryo transfer, from a legal perspective, you are considered pregnant. This means you have the same rights as a pregnant person in regard to medical leave and protection from discrimination for being pregnant. 
  • Make time for yourself
    Going through any fertility treatment can be so time-consuming that you may feel like you lose yourself on the way. Be sure to take time out for yourself and indulge in any type of self-care you may need.
  • Find the support you need
    Some people don’t feel comfortable opening up to family and friends that they’re receiving treatment, and sometimes it can be hard to get the right support from a partner if you’re having treatment with one. Some people can find it helpful to get support from a counsellor or others through support groups or social media who have been through a similar situation. You might be able to access counselling through your fertility clinic for free or you can visit the British Infertility Counselling Association and browse their directory of accredited therapists. 

 

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