When it comes to Reproductive and Emotional Health, the subject is usually rather taboo and private, but it affects so many people. Although Human Resources professionals are well equipped to tackle most personal issues, this is such a highly emotive and specialist area.
Infertility, IVF and Assisted Reproduction Techniques, Miscarriage, Birth Trauma and the subsequent Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) & Post-natal Depression (PND) that often follows, are just a few examples of what employees may be going through. They can be all-consuming, and take over every conscious thought.
In the UK alone:
– Infertility affects 3.5million people. That equates to 1 in 6 people.
– Miscarriage affects 1 in 4 people.
– Birth Trauma – I don’t have numbers to share as I don’t feel the recorded figures do this subject justice. The majority of people keep it very quiet, and all aspects of their health suffer as anxiety builds. Consequently, stress-related illnesses have a big impact on businesses.
This is not just a female issue.
Of the 3.5 million dealing with infertility, a third of that is diagnosed as an issue with Male Factor Infertility, a third female reasons, and a third unknown causes. (The unknown could potentially be stress-related, on one or both sides.)
Infertility is a medical condition defined as a disease by the World Health Organisation.
Research conducted at Middlesex University, London (for Fertility Network UK) found that the impact was:
85% of individuals said that having treatment affected their day-to-day work, eg difficult to concentrate, presenteeism.
58% reported work affected their treatment, eg difficult to make appointments, felt additional stress created negative outcomes.
50% were concerned it would affect their career.
35% said it did actually affect their career.
19% reduced hours or resigned.
1 in 3 men felt fertility issues had a negative impact on work.
Supporting your employees through their fertility journeys, and having a Reproductive & Emotional Health Policy in place could alleviate some of the stress and worry.
With fertility problems rising, this is not a problem that is going to disappear.
A few points to note for your Reproductive and Emotional Health Policy:
When a female employee is going through fertility treatment such as IVF, she will need a sanitary and private place to do her injections.
Maternity rights come into action on the day of Embryo Transfer.
IVF is successful in approximately one 3rd of cycles. A failed cycle results in grief that requires bereavement time and space.
The psychological impact from the male side alone, when opting for IVF, a man supporting his wife dealing with daily injections that cause huge bruises and they run out of bruiseless space to do the next injection, when she goes through a forced menopause stage that causes all sorts of harsh symptoms, and he is potentially carrying the guilt for this happening.
Miscarriage, whether this is from natural or assisted conception, this is huge and affects so many people that it is unbelievable. Late-term miscarriages are more noticeable to employers and colleagues, but early term loss still comes with huge grief, and it is usually very private grief.
Birth Trauma. So many people affected by this, again both men and women, and it doesn’t stop once the baby is safely in the parents’ arms. It has a tendency of growing, especially when stuffed down and ignored. Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) isn’t saved only for war veterans, it can affect anyone who has been in a situation where they have felt out of control, and that life is at threat, whether it is the birthing mother or the helpless father.
Everyone else is happy, congratulatory, and yet the parents feel like they have just come out of a car crash, and now have a small person who they need to ensure breathes and eats, and it usually adds in the indescribable stress of sleep deprivation. Therefore, the symptoms of Birth Trauma-related anxiety, PND & PTSD builds.
How many of your employees are suffering in silence? Statistically, I can say a high percentage. How does this affect your workplace?
Workplaces need to be proactive and need to have plans and policies in place to support their employees facing fertility problems, miscarriage, pregnancy support, and birth trauma repercussions.
What can be done to help?
As a Reproductive and Emotional Health Therapist, I work with private clients over a series of sessions, starting with a debrief, and ‘solution focused’ questions. We work out a plan. I cannot change what has happened/is happening, but I can help them release the emotional pain attached to the situation, and help them with mindful ways of managing stressful situations.
How many sessions are needed varies from person to person? Some people feel great relief after just one session, and others require several regular sessions, especially if it is currently ongoing.
What techniques do I use?
I use a combination of Hypnotherapy, NLP & EFT* (Tapping) to shift trauma, Mindfulness techniques to help people walk through the stages of parenthood/work balance.
(*EFT was initially created for the use of easing trauma for Veterans of the Vietnam War, and is an incredibly fast-acting way of relieving traumatic memories and their symptoms.)
Coming into your business, I charge an ad hoc day rate (based on 9am-5pm), as well as a regular booking day rate. Contact for details.
A private comfortable room is to be provided by yourselves.
Bookings are a regular weekly, monthly or fortnightly placement, so that your employees have continuity.