Reproductive health, or in laymen’s terms an employee’s ability to have children, at first may not seem to be overtly relevant to the HR agenda, however, just as with financial health and physical welfare, reproductive health has massive ramifications on the wellbeing of employees.
With this week marking the annual National Fertility Week, the need for companies to support their employees is greater than ever before.
And with the likelihood of remote working now remaining for a while longer, many organisations are taking this time to review existing benefit schemes to ensure they are offering effective solutions that provide maximum value for their staff members.
But why is reproductive health so important? Well, according to Tony Chen, CEO and Founder of Fertifa, most workplaces aren’t talking about this issue, despite its importance to workers.
“The workplace can be toxic for those dealing with these challenges,” Chen told HR Grapevine. “The associated taboo can cause an unsupportive environment accentuated by barriers between managers, HR departments and employees.
“An IVF cycle can cost upwards of £6,000 and involve weeks of hormone injections and countless clinic visits for blood tests, scans and invasive procedures. It can be mentally, financially and physically draining,” Chen added.
Why consider reproductive health?
According to data from the Fertility Network UK, one in six couples in the UK – or 3.5 million people – have fertility challenges, and nearly 70,000 IVF treatment cycles are carried out each year nationally.
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A recent study by Fertility Network UK found that 90% of those experiencing infertility felt some level of depression, while 42% felt suicidal. In another study by the Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey, 61% of people rated infertility as more stressful than a divorce.
Fertifa’s data also found that one in four women experience miscarriage, 80% of single women suffer from fertility decline simply because they are still to find a suitable partner, and 40% of all fertility problems are due to male factor infertility. It’s also essential to note that 100% of the LGBT+ group planning to start a family need help to do so.
Demand for treatment is growing
The latest ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology) report revealed that the virus has had a negative impact on fertility treatment for the majority (92%) of patients, specifically because of treatment delays, where 81.6% of tests or treatments were postponed.
Four in five participants felt uncertainty over their treatments and the unknown impacts of the pandemic, such as pregnancy outcomes and gynaecology services. Although most UK fertility services have now started to resume, significant doubts remain in the minds of fertility experts about the delivery of fertility care, both short-term and in the future.
Do you have wellbeing strategies in place for reproductive health? How are employees utilising these? Let us know in the comments…