In comparison to all the other strains of IVF -- wondering if it will work, taking hormones, feeling emotional and not yourself -- many women still find that one of the most stressful aspects of the treatment is having to take time off work. Some women worry that they just won't find the time in their schedule to attend IVF appointments; some are worried about their privacy and don't want their colleagues to know that they're having IVF; while others might be concerned that their boss will think their priorities are elsewhere if he or she finds out about the fertility treatment.
Although it is possible to carefully plan an IVF schedule around your working life and vice versa, at certain stages of the cycle, the treatment will have to take priority over attending work - if the treatment is to be successful. During the stages of egg retrieval and embryo transfer, for example, it's almost certain that you'll have to take a few days off. The better organized you are, the more this necessary absence from work can be kept to a minimum.
Before treatment begins, it's best to attend the clinic with a copy of your schedule and glean from them as much information as possible about what is going to happen on each day of treatment. It may be possible to book days off at the beginning of treatment in anticipation of what is to come. This may help reduce the impact of a short-notice absence from work on your colleagues.
Sick Leave Or Holiday?
Even though IVF has been around for a while now, many employers have not yet defined their position as to whether or not time taken off work for fertility treatment is classed as sick leave, or should be taken as part of an employee's annual leave allowance. Some employers view fertility treatment as a voluntary procedure, and therefore not something that renders you unfit to attend work.
However, there are employers out there who do offer entitlement to a certain number of days' leave specifically for fertility treatments. The only way to determine your employer's stance on this is to talk to your boss or to your human resources department. Even if they aren't willing to give you sick days, they may consider unpaid leave as an option.
Many women are understandably reluctant to speak to a boss or to colleagues about their IVF treatment. It's your right to maintain your privacy, but bear in mind that if things are out in the open, the fact that you're taking time off may cause you less stress.
If colleagues are covering your shifts or your workload, they may become irritated by your sudden need for days off at short notice. Perhaps if they knew what was going on, they'd feel more sympathetic.
As for your boss, hopefully, if he or she knows you are receiving treatment, you won't have to deal with doubts about your commitment to your job or your desire for promotion. Perhaps you can tolerate a little embarrassment and water cooler gossip if it means you don't have to lie and hide things from other people all the time?
Some employers do not take kindly to the news that you are having fertility treatment. There have been cases of women being turned down for a new job or being denied promotion because they are going through IVF. Some women have even been made redundant at the next opportunity. Such attitudes have no place in a modern working environment. Seek legal advice if you think you may have suffered from discrimination because of your IVF treatment.