The Impact of Fertility Challenges and Pregnancy Loss on Mental Health

Published: 19/05/2023

What should companies be doing to support employees with fertility challenges?

With 1 in 6 couples struggling with infertility worldwide, it’s no surprise that it not only impacts their physical health, but their mental health too. 

As more couples and individuals face difficulties in conceiving, it is crucial for companies to recognise the challenges associated with infertility and provide support to their employees during this sensitive time. 

At myTamarin we have experts in fertility and pregnancy loss who are here to support employees through the complex journey and emotional rollercoaster of family forming. 

The Emotional Toll of Infertility:

Infertility can be an incredibly distressing experience for people longing to have a child. The mixture of hope, disappointment, and uncertainty can have a huge impact on an individual's mental health. Feelings of sadness, grief, anxiety, and even depression are common among individuals struggling with infertility. These emotions can significantly affect an employee's overall well-being and their ability to perform effectively at work.

In a survey conducted by Fertility Network UK and Middlesex University, they found that 90% of people experiencing long term infertility challenges reported experiencing depression, with 42% saying they had suicidal thoughts. Even when couples achieve the desired outcome of bringing a child into their family, they can often still be impacted by the long term effects that the journey has had on their mental health. 

myTamarin works with companies to help them educate their employees around supporting those going through infertility, by providing them support through resources, group webinars, and 1-1 virtual support. 

The Stress of Fertility Treatment:

Fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF), can be physically and emotionally demanding. The constant monitoring, injections, and hormonal fluctuations can contribute to increased stress levels and emotional strain. Balancing work commitments with frequent medical appointments and procedures can be challenging, leading to additional stressors and disruptions in an employee's professional life. Companies can help alleviate stress by allowing employees to work from home where possible, or providing private areas for them to go if they need to inject, or need to sit away from people if they are feeling side effects from any treatments.  Flexible working hours can also give the employee time to attend appointments in the day and remove their concern about being away from work. 

Pregnancy Loss:

Along the fertility journey, individuals may experience the heart-wrenching loss of a pregnancy. Pregnancy loss can lead to profound grief, intense emotional pain, and a sense of isolation. 

The emotional impact of miscarriage, stillbirth, or failed fertility treatments should not be underestimated, as it can significantly affect an individual's mental health and overall well-being. 

With the Miscarriage Association reporting that more than 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage each year (around a quarter of a million in the UK), there is huge importance in opening up the conversation to make people realise they are not alone. Making sure companies have policies supporting people through this is extremely important. Paid time off during these times will help remove the pressure someone may feel whilst going through this grief, and will allow them the space to be able to process what has happened. Forcing someone back into work will only impact both the individual, and the company negatively. 

myTamarin partners with employers and helps them support employees with pregnancy loss support. By providing this support at a company, you are showing you understand the impact it can have on an individual, and the importance of supporting them with it. 

The Impact on Productivity and Workplace Performance:

Infertility and the associated emotional burden can affect an employee's productivity and workplace performance. 

Distraction, reduced concentration, and increased absenteeism are common consequences. The constant juggling between fertility treatments and work responsibilities can lead to burnout, exhaustion, and decreased motivation. Employees who feel unsupported during this challenging journey may experience higher levels of stress, which can further impede their ability to contribute effectively to their job.

Why Companies Should Provide Support:

Infertility is a deeply personal and sensitive issue, and employees who feel supported by their company are more likely to stay with them. Offering support during this challenging time can enhance employee satisfaction and foster long-term commitment.

In an increasingly competitive job market, companies that prioritise employee well-being, including support for fertility challenges, have a competitive advantage. Such organisations are more likely to attract and retain highly skilled professionals who seek inclusive and supportive work environments. By providing support and understanding to employees facing fertility challenges, companies can help alleviate some of the emotional burden. This, in turn, can improve overall mental health, well-being, and job satisfaction, leading to increased productivity and higher morale in the workplace. Providing access to fertility-related support services, companies can help employees navigate the complex fertility journey more effectively. This can lead to fewer health complications, decreased stress levels, and reduced healthcare expenses for both the employee and the company.

Ways Companies Can Provide Support:

  • Flexible work arrangements
  • 1-1 expert support through myTamarin
  • Education across the whole workplace (webinars, training, promoting open conversation) 
  • Paid leave policies 
  • Managerial sensitivity and flexibility

Infertility and fertility treatment can have a significant impact on an employee's mental health and overall well-being. Additionally, the emotional toll of pregnancy loss during the fertility journey should not be overlooked. Companies play a vital role in supporting their employees through these difficult times. 

By providing comprehensive support through myTamarin, companies can help alleviate the emotional burden, enhance employee well-being, and ultimately improve productivity and retention. 

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