The vast majority of people undergoing fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF) can indeed work full-time. Many simply don’t have the option not to. Between the cost of IVF itself and budgeting for a potential baby, you likely need to work during IVF. However, when people ask if they can work full-time during IVF, what they really mean is “How?” Here are our recommendations.
1. Talk to your doctor
No matter what, your doctor knows your case history best. If you’re at high risk for any health concerns or work in unsafe conditions, they may suggest making modifications at your workplace or talk to you about scaling back your hours. Note that such situations are rare. Most patients can work their normal jobs while undergoing IVF.
Also, talk candidly about your unique work challenges. Your doctor knows that most people can’t focus exclusively on fertility treatments. They may suggest early appointment times, especially for routine monitoring, lunch appointments, or end-of-day appointments when available.
2. Talk to your HR team about your options
Your company’s human resources team is exactly that: a resource for helping you navigate your work and (human) life balance. They can discuss the options you have available at your work site.
For example, full-time employees at companies with over 50 employees are generally guaranteed unpaid leave time for up to 12 weeks under the Family and Medical Care Act (FMLA). Your company may also offer short-term disability benefits or work with you to create a paid time off schedule through sick or vacation time.
Most people need to take a day off from work for their egg retrieval and another for their transfer. Be up front with HR so they know the general time frame when those days could occur.
If you have a supportive manager, consider talking to them as well. While it can be scary to open up about your fertility journey, many patients are surprised by how accommodating and helpful their management is during this time. They can help you rearrange your schedule or find coverage, as needed.
Finally, if your company is uncooperative during these discussions, consider consulting with an employment attorney in your area. They can talk to you about your employee rights during IVF, such as which fertility treatments and accommodations are protected by your state or federal laws.
3. Use work as a retreat from infertility challenges
Many patients find that going to work during IVF helps in an unexpected way: it keeps their mind off of the worry of conceiving. Those who are undergoing IVF have likely tried to conceive for a long time, unsuccessfully. Worrying about the success of fertility treatments is normal, but unfortunately, it can become a full-time job in itself.
Beyond the worry over cost, there’s the stress of added time commitments, family pressure, and pressure on yourself. These are among the very real emotional costs of infertility that are not often talked about. Worrying about the success of your IVF treatment, however, only adds additional stress during an already stressful time.
Rather than thinking of work as another commitment, go into as a retreat from the pressures of infertility. Instead of worrying about your egg retrieval or transfer, work demands that you stay in the moment and focused on the task at hand. Enjoy that time.
4. Know that it’s exhausting, but worth it
We’ve been honored to help thousands of patients achieve a successful pregnancy at The Fertility Institute of New Orleans. When we talk to those who went through IVF and worked full-time, we hear the same thing: “It was exhausting but worth it.”
You will have more demands on your time during IVF. And, you will likely have emotional changes from hormone therapies. Before you begin, consider where you can pull back. What can your partner take over around the house? Can you hire someone to help with household tasks like cleaning or landscaping? Can your friends or family help with meal prep or taking the dog out for a walk? Can you carpool to work on non-appointment days?
Once you’ve cleared as much off your plate as possible, find support. It will be tiring to work full-time while undergoing IVF. Find local or online infertility support groups where you can air your frustrations when you have them and commiserate with others.
It will be an exhausting period… but so very worth it when you achieve your dream pregnancy. If you’re in Louisiana, the fertility specialists at The Fertility Institute can help. Contact us today to learn more about fertility treatments.`