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Infertility and the Workplace

Infertility treatment can feel like a second job: it’s time consuming, requires scheduling, and demands your attention. It also presents special challenges in the workplace.

First, you have to decide whom to tell and what to tell them. You have to consider whether telling might (unfairly and illegally) jeopardize a promotion. Choose your confidants wisely. As you probably know, not everyone will be supportive or helpful, even if they intend to be. And you don’t want to become the subject of office gossip.

Sharing an office with a pregnant co-worker or having lunch with proud, boastful parents can be difficult. In-office celebrations for expectant moms and dads can be particularly painful. If you work in a field where you are surrounded by pregnant women, babies, or young children, that environment can be a constant reminder of what you’re going through. It may be hard to find a safe haven at work when you have just returned from an uncomfortable test or procedure, or worse — just gotten a negative pregnancy test result.

Many women choose to stay with a job during treatment, postpone taking on new responsibilities or positions, planning to leave to leave the job when they get pregnant. The downside? Feeling stuck and unfulfilled.

As the months and perhaps years go by, you may decide you would like to stop working or work part time, but the financial pressures and insurance coverage may be determining factors. So often women who have had wonderful, stimulating careers say that all they really wanted was to be a mother. It is important to remember though, that you are more than an infertility patient. Work can improve self esteem and make you feel like you are accomplishing something important.

If you are trying to determine whether you should continue working, start by making a list. Simply listing the pros and cons of working and not working, including as many categories as you can think of (financial, emotional, social, etc.), will help you begin to sort it out.

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