When a co-worker or friend is going through fertility treatment, it can be hard to know what they’re dealing with and how to be helpful.
The first thing to know is that for many people, this is a really hard experience. Whether needing fertility treatment came as a surprise, or was something easily foreseen, the process is grueling and fraught with setbacks and uncertainty.
According to one study of over 200 couples conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, over 50% of women and nearly 1 in 7 men characterized the treatment period as their “most upsetting life experience.”
For context, according to one Harvard study, fertility patients experience rates of anxiety and depression similar to those who’ve just been given a diagnosis of cancer.
Moreover, it’s common for fertility patients to feel embarrassed by their need for treatment and many struggle to find support. Factor in that for many treatment is costly, and threatens to destabilize them financially, and you can begin to understand to how this period can feel unmanageable for many.
Fertility treatments are incredibly stressful and, mixed with the stress of work, things can boil over. This is a guide for co-workers to understand what their colleagues are going through, so that they can help create a supportive workplace environment. We cover everything from the things you should say & the things you should avoid saying to your co-workers, to the ways that fertility treatments will concretely impact work schedules.