How do I talk to my manager about my infertility?

Published: 19/09/2022

Infertility is a huge drain, this is how you approach your employer to tell them about your infertility struggles and fertility treatment plans

How to talk to your manager about fertility

The desire to start a family is essential and crucial for many. It's a time in your life that you’ve been looking forward to for years. But now you’re faced with infertility which can be a frightening, disconcerting, and painful journey. 

And unfortunately, most people won’t know they will have difficulty reproducing until they try.

Experiencing infertility

Being diagnosed as infertile can be mentally and emotionally draining. 

For some women, they may experience diminished self-confidence and sense of worth, resulting in a more restrained or crushed attitude at work. 

With men, if they are the main cause of infertility, they can feel useless and incapable of procreating, which can impact their job performance.

Undergoing infertility treatment

You might have chosen to undergo infertility treatment in order to become a parent either alone or with a partner. Because responsible parenthood is a two-way street, most men/partners want to be present at doctor's visits and serve as a caring force, letting their girlfriend or spouse recognise they are not alone in this. 

So, you've checked the clinic's website and discussed what a treatment plan entails with them. And it’s becoming clear that you will require some flexibility and close cooperation with your place of work in order to adhere to your treatment program. 

Whatever fertility journey you choose, e.g. IVF, IUI, surrogacy, egg recipient, sperm recipient, you and your partner will likely spend many hours going backwards and forwards to the fertility clinic. 

So it makes sense for you to discuss with your manager, confidentially, what your fertility journey could look like.

Talking to your manager about fertility 

Before talking to your manager, make sure you are aware of any employee benefits for fertility treatment your company may have. Although it can be daunting talking to your manager, being truthful is important. 

Missing deadlines and meetings might impact your future in the company if this is not discussed beforehand. Depending on your relationship with your boss and the length of time you've been with the company, he or she may be more sympathetic to your situation.

Here’s some suggestions for how to talk to your manager about your fertility journey:

  • Be honest but guard against bringing emotions into the conversation. However, do make them aware that this journey is emotional. 
  • You need to be well prepared and keep the dialogue open, simple and straightforward. 
  • If you can, be specific about your upcoming appointments and procedures. Mysterious sick days are generally frowned upon, so keep your manager informed if you have appointments scheduled. Let your manager know how long each appointment will be. 
  • Advise them that you can be flexible with working hours (if you can be), and you will keep them in the loop if there are any new developments. 
  • Discuss with your manager a shift in your responsibilities or work load if you are able to, so that you are not stressed during the treatment programme. Your manager needs to understand that you are taking responsibility for your medical issues and mental health. 

Understanding your work’s policy on fertility treatment with options for sick-leave or managing your time off with annual leave to accommodate procedures and appointments, will make it easier to talk to your manager about being flexible and accommodating with work projects. 

You should not be disadvantaged in your career progression by talking about wanting to start a family, therefore having that honest conversation with your manager is very important.

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