Intense, stressful, exhausting: IVF + Working – are we doing enough?

We talked to Becky, who outlines the personal challenges she went through whilst undergoing IVF and working in a stressful job in finance: 

Becky’s experience:

‘I went through 2 rounds of IVF, whilst working in a senior position in a financial company in the City. I’m not going to lie; working whilst having the treatment did prove pretty stressful. However, I did attend one of the most ‘intensive’ clinics in London. 

“They take over your life”, was a phrase I heard a number of times in the clinic’s waiting rooms. Daily blood tests during week one of ‘stimulation’ turned into twice daily in week two. Then scans on top. I’d try get to the clinic for 7-7.30am, but frequent long waits (sometimes 30 minutes but sometimes well over an hour) and then travelling across London to the office meant I was frequently late into work. 

Becky's tips for others:

I do think you need to be realistic if you’re considering having IVF whilst working. Make sure you speak to your clinic to figure out exactly how frequently you need to be there. Also, how many days off ‘sick’ (or holiday) you’ll need (egg collection, embryo transfer then days off to rest post transfer). 

I hadn’t realised just how intense the whole thing was going to be. Plan ahead. Have a list of ready-made excuses for your boss, for when you’re late or need to pop out mid-afternoon for a scan. Also, be aware that the further through the treatment you get, the more the drugs will be impacting you. I felt utterly exhausted and sick. On the flip side, working helped take my mind off the treatment! 

You could of course tell work you plan on undergoing IVF. I checked our HR documents on the intranet and found I wouldn’t be given time off for any treatment. Plus, as an ambitious and career-driven employee, I didn’t want to draw their attention to the fact I was trying for a baby. 

So, my advice is plan ahead and be realistic. Both of these would help reduce stress and hence improve your chance of success.’

More than a quarter of a million babies have now been born in the UK as a result of fertility treatment.  And, with an increase in success-rates of IVF as well as more people starting a family later in life, it is likely that more employees will be undergoing treatment whilst working.

But how do you combine this with working life?  What support is available?  Unlike employment law for maternity, paternity and adoption, there is no legislation that supports employees to take time off (and therefore paid leave) for IVF.

Most family-friendly companies should have their own policies to support you - search your intranet and speak to HR.  This article from also provides some further advice on coping with IVF at work.


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