Fertility health is complicated, and it’s a topic that most people aren't familiar with unless they’ve gone through a fertility journey themselves. But it’s an area that’s becoming more and more important for HR leaders to be knowledgable about. Why? To start, one in eight different-sex couples will be diagnosed with infertility. And that number doesn’t include same-sex couples and single-intending parents who need additional support to grow their families. For employees later in their careers, hormonal health becomes a different challenge as menopause and low testosterone symptoms start to interfere with daily life. When employers don’t address these concerns, 88% of employees would change jobs to access fertility benefits.
Learning more about fertility health and what each journey can involve is the first step toward creating a more supportive workplace for anyone pursuing parenthood or managing their hormonal health. We hope you find this guide to be a useful place to start.
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For people with ovaries, fertility describes someone’s ability to get pregnant and carry a pregnancy to term.
For people with testes, fertility refers to semen health parameters like sperm shape, volume, and speed.
An infertility diagnosis is made after 1 year of frequent, unprotected different-sex intercourse or 6 months if the partner with ovaries is 35 or older.
1 in 8 different-sex couples face infertility — more than diabetes
of infertility cases can be traced to the partner with ovaries
to the partner with testes
are due to a combination of factors or are considered unexplained
Menopause is the time that marks the end of the menstrual cycle. It’s diagnosed after someone has gone 12 months without a menstrual period. Common symptoms include hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and mood changes.
Male testosterone levels decline on average about 1% a year after age 30. 40% of males aged 45+ have low testosterone
Most different-sex couples start out by trying to get pregnant without intervention. For same-sex couples, the process starts with researching options for donor eggs or sperm, or for gestational carrier services or adoption.
For different-sex couples, same-sex female couples, and single-intending parents, treatment typically starts with IUI, because it’s less invasive, and then moves to IVF. Depending on coverage, some people choose to start with IVF — we’ll get more into that later.
Other fertility care options include fertility preservation. Some people pursue fertility preservation before getting treatment that can damage fertility, such as cancer treatment. Others choose fertility preservation if they’re not ready to grow their family but know they want to in the future.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI): During an intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedure, sperm is placed directly into the uterus using a small catheter to improve the chances of fertilization by increasing the number of healthy sperm that reach the fallopian tubes when the person is most fertile.
Fertility preservation includes egg, sperm, and embryo freezing, which is the process of using technology to preserve biological reproductive material at extremely low temperatures. There are many reasons people may choose to undergo egg and sperm freezing. Some may want to preserve their eggs and sperm before undergoing cancer treatments or hormone replacement therapy, while others pursue fertility preservation for personal reasons.
“In vitro” means outside of the body. IVF works by using a combination of medicines and surgical procedures to help sperm fertilize an egg, and help the fertilized egg implant in the uterus.
Commonly known as surrogacy, gestational carrier (GC) services involve having a person carry a pregnancy on behalf of the intended parent or parents.
Many fertility treatments are not considered “medically necessary” by insurance companies, so they are not typically covered by private insurance plans or Medicaid programs.
When coverage is available, certain types of fertility services (e.g., testing) are more likely to be covered than others (e.g., IVF). Accessing donor sperm and eggs, gestational carrier services, and adoption are not covered by insurance — and get very expensive.
A flexible financial fertility benefit gives companies the opportunity to create a customized plan designed specifically for their employees. Due to the flexible nature of the offering, this benefit typically covers any and all fertility-related treatments and services and has many built-in resources to help people navigate their pursuit of parenthood.
There are some fertility benefit's that only provide female-focused offerings, such as egg freezing and IVF, and frequently operate out of the benefits own local clinics — which are sometimes referred to as boutique clinics.
Online fertility care support services provide individuals and couples with an online suite of tools to help with maneuvering fertility journeys. This usually includes virtual appointments with clinicians, a fertility specialist search function (often with location, accepted insurance plans, or rating information), and a library of frequently asked questions. These services may be specific to fertility care or may cover a wider variety of healthcare topics. While many other previously mentioned benefits include online fertility support as one piece of their offering, this section covers options that offer only online support.
When employees have the right support for these complex, emotional journeys, it makes a significant difference in their personal and professional lives — and a big impact on how they feel about their employers. Here are just a few reasons to consider bringing inclusive fertility benefits to your workforce: