Work-Related Stress During Infertility
At RMA Long Island IVF, we learn a lot about our patients. They often share snippets of their personal lives with the nurses and vent a bit as they have their blood drawn. In addition to relationship issues with family or friends, a common concern we hear is about work-related stress.
While many patients who have “come out” to coworkers and bosses about their infertility do get emotional support, many do not. And countless others choose to keep their infertility a secret from those at work.
Most couples today, especially those without children, are working outside of the home. Those struggling with infertility and the costs of treatment may even be working overtime, particularly if they do not have insurance coverage.
Workplace stress, holiday stress, and the 24/7 stress of infertility can combine at this time of year. If you have been feeling especially stressed this season, you definitely aren’t alone.
Here are some the top complaints and/or fears infertility patients have about the workplace:
Fear they will lose their job or be passed over for raises or promotions if their secret is discovered. Pregnancy discrimination is a real problem in the workplace and infertility treatment could invoke a sort of “pre-pregnancy” discrimination. Not only would the boss know they’re trying to get pregnant and would take maternity leave if successful, but they will also need to take off additional time beforehand for IVF or other infertility treatments—often with little notice. It’s upsetting to think how disclosing their infertility could affect their career path and job security.
- Stress over fitting in infertility treatments before work – –particularly morning bloodwork and ultrasounds—without the boss finding out. IVF retrievals are even harder to schedule because they can’t be pinpointed more than a few days in advance.
- Resentment over coworkers with children expecting school break vacation time priority. There may be an attitude in the office that those without children should vacation at other times of the year.
- Jealousy over fertile coworkers’ ability to have a baby—or four-- without costly medical intervention. It’s normal, but it’s hard.
- Resentment over working harder or longer hours without additional compensation to cover the unfinished work of coworkers with children who abuse time off policies.
- Jealousy over fertile coworkers’ parental leave--especially when getting necessary time off for fertility treatment is difficult or impossible.
- Baby showers.
While some people’s coworkers are a great support system and they’re friends outside of the office, we understand how difficult office holiday parties can be for many people who feel unsupported at work. If you’re trying to conceive or are in a treatment cycle, you may not be drinking alcohol. So, it’s hard to have fun if you’re worrying that someone’s going to ask if you’re pregnant when they see you sipping seltzer. Or worrying if they’ll blurt out something hurtful after they’ve had a few too many. If you can’t avoid the party completely, limit your time and/or exposure to toxic people. Be seen by those who matter and exit when you need to. Remember your first responsibility is to take care of yourself and protect your heart during this event-heavy season.
If it’s too overwhelming and you feel you need some professional help, RMA Long Island IVF encourages you to reach out to us. Our caring infertility counselor, Bina Benisch, M.S., R.N., helps individuals and couples navigate their infertility journeys through group and individual counseling. Her group sessions are very popular and often lead to friendships that continue long after their infertility journeys have been resolved.
And here is some news that will help millions of New Yorkers access IVF coverage in 2020: New York State passed a groundbreaking new law that goes into effect on January 1, 2020. In addition to fertility preservation services (like egg freezing) for cancer patients, it requires certain larger employers to cover up to three (3) IVF cycles. RMA Long Island IVF explains the new insurance law here. Or ask your employer’s benefits administrator if your company offers IVF coverage now. If you are not one of the 2 million workers expected to benefit from this new law because it doesn’t apply to your employer, it may be time to explore a job change in the new year.