10 Things You Didn’t Know About Infertility

Knowledge is power, especially for employers today. While most companies deal with this ever-growing condition, few employers understand it. To help those with this disease, it’s vital to learn more about it and support a family-friendly work environment with fertility benefits. Here are some facts you must know:
  1. Infertility is not for women only. According to the National Health Statistics Report, one in eight U.S. couples experience infertility. Fertility depends on male, female and both male and female factors. Among the infertility cases, 40 percent of cases are due to male factors, 40 percent of cases are due to female factors, 20 percent of cases are both female and male factors and unexplained factors in both genders.[1]
  2. Infertility is no one’s fault. Infertility is a malfunction of the human reproduction system and a “disease,” as stated by the World Health Organization. However, many still view infertility as the woman’s fault.[2]
  3. Infertility greatly increases employee stress. Research has shown the stress levels of women diagnosed with infertility are equivalent to those of people with cancer, AIDS or heart disease.
  4. Infertility increases as women age. Women are more likely to have had illnesses or medical treatments that can compromise fertility. Some of these affect the reproductive system directly, such as endometriosis, cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), surgery on the reproductive organs, or ectopic pregnancies. Others general medical conditions can damage fertility, including hypothyroidism, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and lupus. 
  5. Infertility increases as men age. Men may be exposed to infections, medications, or occupational or environmental chemicals that can impair fertility. In addition, obesity, smoking, alcoholic beverages and recreational drugs can affect fertility.
  6. Employees with infertility face highly expensive treatments to start families. According to FertilityIQ data, fully-loaded, per treatment cycle costs are now $23,050, or nearly double the $12,400 that is popularly reported today by some fertility companies. For some employees, this is half of their annual salary. 
  7. More women are freezing their eggs at a young age. As women focus on education or career mobility, they are freezing their eggs and postponing starting a family. The rate of women who had their first child between 40 and 44 has more than doubled in the past 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ongoing storage for frozen eggs is an additional cost of at least several hundred dollars annually. That doesn’t include charges for fertilizing and implanting when the woman wants to conceive.[3] 
  8. Gay and lesbian employees want to start families. Reproductive benefits appeal to gay and lesbian employees, as well as single men and women, who want to use a surrogate or a sperm donor to have a baby.
  9. There is a downside if employers do not have an open dialogue about infertility. A recent workplace survey reveals:
  • 30% have quit a job in the past because their employer did not allow them to easily get the fertility care they needed
  • 27% are actively looking for new job opportunities due to lack of company support
  • Lack of direct supervisor support (29%) and lack of co-worker support (20%) also influenced their decision to seek other work.[4]
  1. Offering fertility benefits is a major recruiting and retention tool. Younger workers face a challenge when their most productive professional years conflict with their most fertile years. That’s why more smart companies are offering fertility benefits in their health plans.

[1] Fast Facts About Infertility. Resolve. The National Infertility Association. http://www.resolve.org/about/fast-facts-about-fertility.html. [Accessed July 26, 2017]. [2] Sexual and Reproductive Health. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/infertility/definitions/en/. [Accessed June 26, 2017]. [3] Miller, Steven. Fertility Services Distinguish Employers as Family Friendly. Society for Human Resource Management. August 18, 2016. https://www.shrm.org/ resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/fertility-services-family-perks.aspx. [Accessed July 6, 2017]. [4] Smolkin, Sheryl. Why smart employers are offering fertility benefits. Employee Benefits News. May 14, 2017. https://www.benefitnews.com/news/why-smart-employers-are-offering-fertility-benefits. [Accessed July 26, 2017].

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