Managing a Career While Undergoing IVF
Once you’ve come to terms with the fact that in vitro fertilization (IVF) is an expensive and time-consuming process for everyone, you can move on to embracing your career goals while undergoing treatment. Most people who undergo infertility treatments, such as IVF, are able to continue working full-time. However, it’s not without its challenges. Balancing your career and family goals takes work, but it’s something many hopeful parents have managed.
How can undergoing IVF impact your career?
Infertility is a common struggle for many individuals and couples, but employers often don’t have the resources or the knowledge to support employees undergoing fertility treatment options like IVF. IVF treatment doesn’t offer much flexibility, and depending on your treatment protocol, patients may need to go to the fertility clinic every morning during certain stages of treatment. Along with the physical toll this takes on your body, it may also add stress to your normal workday. Learning how to communicate your needs to coworkers can help them support you.
Missing work to make an appointment
Your infertility treatment may require several unpredictable, usually early morning visits to the clinic. Patients sometimes get a call a few hours before they need to come into the fertility clinic for treatments such as bloodwork, ultrasounds, and other consultations. So, before you begin IVF treatment, you may want to let your employer know that you might need to miss work unexpectedly to make an appointment.
Hesitancy to pursue career growth opportunities
It’s common to feel uncertain about pursuing a career move in the midst of infertility treatment or pregnancy. Some women choose to stay in their current position, even when they feel supported by their employer, just to avoid the added stress that comes with transition. Others choose to move to companies that offer more fertility support, specifically ensuring they have access to benefits like fertility treatment insurance coverage, maternity or paternity leave.
Being passed over for promotions and long-term projects
As you prepare for IVF treatment, you may choose to avoid pursuing a promotion or taking on long-term projects. In some cases, your employers could see your performance decline because of the stress of treatment and decide to pass you over for a promotion. If you can let them know what you’re going through and communicate your goals, you may be able to avoid this. You may also have to challenge your boss’s belief that the uncertainty of your infertility treatments and potential to go on maternity leave makes you unsuitable for promotions or long-term projects.
Lack of support from management
The unfortunate reality is that there are employers who don’t understand the emotional toll and stress that can come with IVF treatment. Initially, they may seem inflexible in the way they approach your work life and needs when it comes to your infertility treatment. If this is the case, prepare yourself to answer their questions and to be explicit about the uncertainty that comes with IVF. This may be a conversation you have to have more than once before your boss or manager fully understands your needs and expectations.
Should you disclose your infertility treatments?
Like everything involving infertility treatment, everyone will approach this differently. The level of information you disclose is ultimately based on how comfortable you feel with your colleagues knowing about your fertility journey. Before you decide how you want to handle disclosing your treatments, you should consider:
- What do you expect to gain from disclosing your infertility treatments?
- Are you worried how your frequent appointments will reflect on your performance?
- Do you need the support of your manager or coworker?
- Will disclosing your infertility treatment impact your career growth prospects negatively?
Everyone’s situation is different. Depending on how you answer these questions, you may choose to express that you have a health concern that requires treatment without fully disclosing what the treatment is for.
How to tell your boss you’re undergoing IVF
If you decide to tell your boss that you plan to undergo IVF treatment, you’ll want to decide what information you need to share. Consider how you may make up for the lost time you may accrue from having to visit the clinic on many mornings. Be clear about your needs and ask your boss about their expectations. Your goal should be to set up a plan that works for your employer without compromising on your needs.
Find a workplace ally
Depending on how receptive your employer is to your IVF treatment plan and needs, you may want a workplace ally. This could be someone who’s undergone infertility treatment before and knows what you’re going through, or someone who you know will support you at work during the time you must take off for treatment.
How to manage workplace absences
You will inevitably need to take time off of work during your IVF treatment cycles, whether for early morning visits to the clinic or just because of the physical toll that treatment takes on your body. Whatever the reason, you should plan ahead. Simple changes to your routine can help you cope with the added stress that will come from workplace absence.
Choose a clinic with a short commute
One of the easiest ways to help you avoid extra absences from work is to choose a clinic in your area that is a short commute from your workplace. A long commute to and from your clinic, home, and work multiple times a week will add unnecessary strain to your already packed schedule.
Block off your morning schedule
If you can schedule work meetings for later in the afternoon, do that. Plan to have flexible mornings as most IVF appointments take place earlier in the day.
Switch to working from home
Today, it is more common for workplaces to offer their employees the flexibility to work from home. If you can work out a plan that allows you to work from home some days in the week, this may help you reduce stress from missing work and add some needed flexibility to your workday.
Know your limits
Balancing life and work can be a challenge. Add infertility treatment and pregnancy to the mix, and you have a recipe for stress that you may find difficult to cope with. Do what you can to find support either from your workplace, a counselor, or a friend. Find ways to reduce the strain on your schedule. Delegate work where you can. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t forget that it’s okay if you need to take a day off.
If your employer doesn’t offer fertility benefits and you know you want to pursue fertility treatment options, consider this your invitation to pursue your career goals elsewhere. You want to find the right support on your fertility journey, and your employer may not be the most understanding when it comes to your treatment plan if they don’t already offer fertility treatment benefits. If you’re in the position to do so, now might be a good time to talk to your employer about expanding parental benefits to include infertility treatments and support.