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Fertility benefits in workplace are crucial to empower working women

IANS Apr 03, 2024

While in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment offers hope, navigating a career along with the complex series of fertility procedures can become a roadblock for a woman's career. Employers offering fertility benefits can go a long way in empowering working women.

When a 40-year-old marketing professional, opted for IVF treatment, the regular medical appointments and hormone injections meant juggling between multiple appointments conflicting with work hours. This is added stress, which can drain a person mentally and emotionally, affecting the procedure altogether.

But the woman was lucky as her workplace supported her endeavour and offered flexibility in the work schedule. She is now a mother to a seven-year-old girl.

"Prioritising fertility healthcare in the workplace is crucial for fostering employee well-being and inclusivity," said Amitha N, Consultant and fertility specialist from Bengaluru.

"By implementing comprehensive reproductive healthcare policies, employers showcase their unwavering support for the overall well-being of their employees. Access to reproductive services not only lends support to individuals on their journey to parenthood but also enhances worker retention, productivity, and satisfaction," the doctor added.

These benefits at the workplace can be key to boosting the dipping rate of fertility in India. In a recent study published in The Lancet, India's total fertility rate saw a significant decline from 6.18 in 1950 to 1.91 in 2021. The study predicted that it may further drop to 1.3 by 2050 and 1.04 by 2,100.

"Navigating through fertility treatments and juggling work can be hard and can take a toll on the mental wellness of women," said Diana Crasta, Head of Operations Training and Psychological Counseling from Bangalore.

She called for better planning and seamless communication with organisations for a supportive work environment.

"One should have open communication with the organisation, especially with the manager, and seek support from team members. Do not bring your work home, instead spend some quality time with your spouse," Crasta said.

This also applies to those working from home, Crasta said, noting that it is important to set a boundary to wrap up work.

"It's crucial to keep your stress levels under check. Prioritising self-care and seeking help from loved ones are needed to meet the needs of an IVF treatment and balancing work more methodically," she said.

According to Muthineni Rajini, Senior Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and an Infertility Specialist from Hyderabad, egg-freezing technology can be an option to empower working women.

It can help provide women with reproductive autonomy, allowing them to align family planning with career goals.

"The technology offers flexibility, enabling women to postpone pregnancy, overcome biological clock pressures, and invest in professional development," Muthineni said.

"While challenges exist, including costs and societal attitudes, egg freezing contributes to reshaping expectations and creating a more supportive environment for diverse paths to family planning," the doctor said.

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