02 Feb Balancing Work Life During Fertility Treatments
Individuals and couples undergoing fertility treatments quickly learn it’s a part-time job. And, when you consider the energetic and emotional aspects of the infertility journey, it may feel like a full-time job over time because the experience becomes all-consuming.
So, what are the tricks to balancing work life during fertility treatments? How do people schedule all of the necessary appointments or take time off work when they have a full-time job or a demanding career? And how much do you tell colleagues or bosses about what you’re going through?
7 Tips for Navigating Work Life While Undergoing Fertility Treatments
These are the questions we’ll answer to help prospective parents, just like you, strike a healthier balance between their work and personal lives during fertility.
1. Choose the right fertility clinic & plan ahead
The first step to planning for fertility treatments is understanding the general trajectory of your fertility plan. Research fertility centers in your area to keep appointments closer to home. Then, schedule tours and meet-and-greets to determine which one you want to work with. Once you’ve chosen a fertility center, it’s time to begin infertility testing to get an accurate diagnosis. Only after evaluating you and your partner can we begin to explore fertility options and work with you for the most convenient timelines.
For example, some infertility diagnoses are more straightforward than others and may only require a single prescription of Clomid and a cycle or two of IUI before you’re pregnant. Others are more complicated, or it is evident that IVF is the best way forward. In that case, you’ll want to plan ahead to determine when IVF cycles make the most sense for your work life.
2. Be proactive about fertility support
It is not a good idea to “go it alone” when seeking fertility treatments. First, there are the physical ups and downs of fertility medication side effects. Then, there is the reality that most people require three or more cycles before they get pregnant, which also takes its toll. If some of those cycles result in miscarriage, there is another emotionally heartbreaking experience to contend with.
Work life will become far more challenging without the emotional support you need. We recommend tapping into fertility support networks from the outset so you have what you need to keep you buoyed along the way. Those include everything from online and in-person infertility support groups to meeting regularly with a fertility counselor who is familiar with what you’re going through.
3. Accrue vacation or PTO ahead of time if possible
Depending on your age, this may not be possible because age matters when TTC. However, if you are able to wait a year or so, it gives you time to work with employers on accruing vacation and PTO. We’ve even had patients whose employers let them work an extra hour a day, a few days a week, to “bank hours” used for fertility treatment appointments and days off as needed.
4. Don’t assume you need to take vacation time
Yes, some of our patients take all or most of the two-week wait time off because they want to take it easy or they feel they won’t be able to concentrate. However, that’s not necessary for most women we treat. While you may want to take the day off for bigger appointments – such as egg retrieval or embryo transfer – you’re almost always cleared return to work immediately. And this is often the key to not going bonkers with anxiety and worry since keeping busy helps time go by faster.
That said, you never know how your body will respond to fertility medications, so having banked time is a smart idea if you wind up needing more downtime than you thought.
5. Schedule early (or late) fertility treatment appointments
Sometimes, patients find it best to take our earliest morning (or latest afternoon) appointments, adjusting their workday around that. For example, our offices open at 7 a.m., which may leave plenty of time to get to work without anyone knowing the difference. In most cases, fertility appointments are more sporadic, only increasing in number and frequency during the days leading up to egg retrieval. In this way, you hardly lose any work time at all.
6. Tell key players what’s going on
We know that infertility and fertility treatments are sensitive and private matters. While some patients don’t care who knows, finding relief in sharing their story; others keep it a closely-guarded secret. However, it may be wise to tell a few key players if you are worried about how all the sporadic days off will impact your work or affect company culture.
Consider informing someone you trust in management and your circle of colleagues, so they understand your days off aren’t willy-nilly or related to a lack of work ethic. If you feel bold, spread awareness and get your company on board for participating in fundraising during the next National Infertility Awareness Week.
With 12% of adults facing infertility, you may bring others “out of the infertility closet,” which could lead to company policy changes around the time off required for fertility treatments.
7. Plan for comfort
Ovarian hyperstimulation and some fertility medications can cause bloating and abdominal tenderness, which means your typical “business professional” attire may or may not be a good fit. If you like wearing tighter-fitting pants, skirts, or dresses, this is an excellent time to invest in roomier, stylish clothes that won’t be distracting on days when you aren’t feeling 100%.
The Fertility Center of Dallas regularly works with individuals and couples balancing work life during fertility treatments. Schedule a consultation and learn more about how to plan for a fertility treatment plan that flows as seamlessly as possible with work and home life.