We get it. Infertility is a vulnerable topic to discuss with friends and family, let alone your coworkers and employer. And it can be an isolating process to undergo even with a strong support system, but how do you juggle all the appointments and treatments and follow-ups and phone calls that are part of the process of IVF if you have a 9-5 with an hour for lunch?
A recent Wall Street Journal article , Fertility Treatments Are Now Company Business , highlighted a growing movement of patients struggling with infertility opening up about their treatment with their employers. Dr. Jackie Gutmann , an RMA of Philadelphia fertility specialist, is enthusiastic about such a progressive trend: “It’s really important to make sure that individuals who are experiencing infertility recognize that it’s a medical problem for which there is help. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and speaking more openly about infertility encourages those who are struggling to seek treatment. ”
At RMA Network clinics, while we offer very early hours and do our best to accommodate schedules so it’s less disruptive for a workday , it’s unlikely that there will be zero disruption. Having support from your boss, and halting any false rumors spread about why your availability has changed, can be a welcome relief from an already stressful process.
While many of us are working from home due to COVID-19, and can currently take advantage of flexible work-days, normal work-life will summarize someday. Deciding to start a family and struggling to get pregnant is extremely personal and should be treated as such, but the more people that come forward, the less of a stigma about infertility there is. It’s also important to note that the IVF process is not restricted to the genetically infertile: patients who identify as LGBTQA may also want to consider sharing their IVF journey with their coworkers and employers.
“One in eight couples experience infertility,” Dr. Gutmann said. “If you’re in a large space with a bunch of cubicles, and you look around, there are a lot of people who may have gone through what you’re going through, are going through it now, or will go through it in the future. “
Informing your boss or coworkers that you’re undergoing this intense and intimate journey can help shift the narrative of infertility and how it’s understood. It’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about, and no one should suffer in silence.
RMA of Philadelphia, as well as all RMA Network clinics, work directly with mental health professionals for additional support. While we don’t mandate that patients see a mental health professional, we make it clear that help is available. This is a challenging and difficult process, both mentally and physically, and we ensure every patient has access to support if they need it.
As far as telling your boss? That’s really up to you.
“Patients should share their journey with their network, their friends and family, and coworkers if they can. They will likely be surprised not only by the support they receive but realizing they’re not alone. It’s really helpful for everybody, ”Dr. Gutmann said. “Exactly who you share this with can only be determined by your circumstance, but you know what they say. Sharing is caring. “