How to combine work and your fertility treatments

Some women manage to work throughout their IVF treatment, but others take some time off, reduce their working hours or even give up work for a while. The two main factors affecting this are your employer and your clinic.

The clinic – location and opening hours

If your clinic is close to either your home or your workplace, it is going to be far less disruptive than having to take long trips every time you have an appointment. Some clinics open early in the morning for scans during treatment so that you can go before in before work.

The other factor that needs to be considered is the number of appointments you have during your cycle. This will be different from clinic to clinic and may also depend on your response to the drugs. Discuss it with the clinic before you start, as that will give you an idea of what to expect.

Your Employer

The level of freedom you have at work to take time off will also make a difference. If your hours are flexible or you can make up for any lost time later, you may find it easier to manage clinic appointments around work. If you have more structured and rigid hours or you’re in a job where you can’t easily disappear for a few hours, it will be more difficult.

Workplace policies on fertility treatments

Some companies have policies on fertility treatment and will allow you to take time off or unpaid leave if you need it. If you work for a large company that has a human resources department you may want to check to see whether your employer has a policy regarding fertility treatment.

Dealing with unsympathetic employers

There are employers who can be unsympathetic towards fertility treatment and they may assume that you are less committed to your job if they know you’re trying to have a baby. Not everyone feels they are able to be honest about having fertility treatments with their boss or those they work with. In these circumstances it will help if you have a colleague you can trust, who can perhaps cover for you if clinic appointments mean you are running late to work, or you must leave early.

If you need time off and you are worried that it will make things tough at work if you do tell your employer, you can always ask your doctor for a medical certificate stipulating that you can’t be at work for medical reasons.

Time off for egg collection and embryo transfer

If you intend to work throughout most of your cycle you will still need to take a day off work when you have your eggs collected. Although you may have a rough idea when this will be, it isn’t always easy to know what day your egg collection will be on as it will depend on how you respond to the drugs.

You will also need time off when you have the embryos transferred to your womb and most people prefer to take the entire day off for this.

As another option, you may choose to take a week off to cover the last scans, the egg collection and embryo transfer, and then go back to work during the two-week wait between embryo transfer and taking a pregnancy test.

Or, you may take time off after the embryo transfer so that you aren’t at work for the two weeks between the transfer and taking a pregnancy test.

You will decide what is best for you, but you may find that you change your mind once you start treatment, so be prepared for this and think about how you will deal with it if you do find you want to take some time off.

This is from my program ‘Everything you need to know before starting your IVF/ART’.

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