Fertility can be a confusing topic and one most people don’t know much about unless they’re going through something themselves. For HR leaders looking to support fertility health for employees, myths and misconceptions around infertility and fertility health can get in the way of providing comprehensive resources. We put together some of the most common misconceptions we hear at Carrot to help HR leaders separate fact from fiction.
Myth # 1: Infertility only impacts cisgender women
About one in eight different-sex couples will experience infertility. Female-factor issues are commonly assumed to be the cause of the problem, but often — about 30–50% of the time — male-factor issues account for fertility struggles in different-sex couples. And yet, up to 27% of the time, the male partner does not undergo an infertility evaluation. While it’s important to acknowledge women's experiences with infertility, a major misconception is that only cisgender women experience infertility.
For HR leaders, make sure your benefits package includes resources for people of all genders. Carrot members, for example, have access to urologists to help them learn more about their fertility and options like sperm testing and freezing, which can all be beneficial to those in different sex couples and those in the LGBTQ+ community.
Transgender men and women and non-binary people also need access to fertility testing, preservation, and other family-forming options. For example, some trans people choose to freeze their gametes before starting hormone therapy or surgery. As an employer, you can support your trans and non-binary employees by providing them with access to affirming providers and clinics. Carrot makes sure to vet all partners for LGBTQ+ inclusivity to ensure people of all genders and sexual orientations can take care of their fertility health in an affirming way.
Myth #2: Infertility is rare
Around 6.7 million people each year meet the medical definition for infertility — trying to get pregnant without success for six to twelve months. But the medical definition of infertility doesn’t include most LGBTQ+ people, single-intending parents, and people pursuing parenthood outside of a heterosexual, cisgender partnership. Using a more inclusive definition of infertility, the number of people who need resources to grow their families expands.
Understanding that fertility can impact everyone helps can you create an environment that promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and supports employees’ emotional and mental well-being. Consider offering mental health support to help normalize conversations around infertility and alleviate the emotional stress of the process. Offering financial support to break down economic barriers that prevent people from accessing solutions is also important. And offering other family-forming options, which could include, but shouldn’t be limited to, services like in vitro fertilization (IVF) is also necessary. We’ll discuss other options in the next section.
Myth # 3: IVF is the only treatment for infertility
Many people may first think of IVF when they hear about infertility treatments. And every year, more and more companies offer IVF coverage. While this is an essential offering necessary for some journeys, a common misconception is that it’s the only option for treating infertility when in fact, fewer than 3% of all infertility cases need advanced reproductive technologies like IVF. IVF is a complex, invasive, and expensive process that's not the right fit for everybody. By including support for first-line interventions in your benefits package, you can give employees more accessible solutions.
For example, improving nutrition has been shown to have a positive impact on fertility. From lowering the risk of infertility related to irregular ovulation to improving semen quality, research shows that healthy dietary patterns among people of reproductive age have a beneficial effect. Ovulation tracking is another simple solution that greatly improves one’s chances of getting pregnant. Only 1 in 3 women who seek infertility services require treatment beyond medical advice, such as guidance on timing for intercourse. For those employees, offering education and resources can be all someone needs to grow their family. At Carrot, members have unlimited access to Carrot experts who consider factors like medical history, age, sex, gender identity, and location to develop each unique plan.
Myth #4: Fertility treatments cause multiple births
Twins and triplets have long been associated with IVF. Until relatively recently, many fertility doctors did transfer multiple embryos in the hope of achieving a better chance of success, which could contribute to the thought that IVF must lead to multiples. Today, research shows that voluntary single embryo transfer reduces multiple gestation rates and maximizes the rate of singleton pregnancy without compromising overall success rates. Single embryo transfer (SET) reduces the risk of low birth weight by 50%, reduces NICU admission by 50%, and decreases hospital length of stay by 80%. The myth that IVF coverage increases costs also isn’t true: 97% of survey respondents say that adding infertility coverage for IVF did not result in a significant increase in medical plan costs.
Overall, SET is the more physically and financially safe option for most patients. 97% of members who go through IVF with Carrot choose SET.
Myth #5: Adoption is the only family-forming option for the LGBTQ+ community
With same-sex parents in the United States being four times more likely than different-sex parents to adopt or foster a child, adoption assistance is an important offering for supporting members of the LGBTQ+ community. But, adoption isn’t the only path to parenthood for the LGBTQ+ community.
Options like gestational carrier (GC) services, IVF, and donor-assisted reproduction without the need for a medical diagnosis of infertility are all key resources for LGBTQ+ employees. GC services give individuals and couples the ability to have genetically-related children by using a carrier — an increasingly popular option for same-sex male couples. Intrauterine insemination (IUI), IVF, or reciprocal IVF with donor sperm are options for same-sex female couples.
As you look to expand support for employees, remember that fertility and infertility involve more diverse experiences than most people realize. Unpacking some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding fertility can help you understand whether you’re meeting the needs of all of your employees and create a better workplace for everyone pursuing parenthood.
Want to learn how Carrot can provide comprehensive, accessible, and inclusive support for employees experiencing infertility? Get in touch with us.