The process of growing your family can be exhausting, not to mention expensive. Fertility medication, egg freezing, IUI, IV… it all adds up to pricey. But don’t get discouraged. Have you considered the fact that your employer may actually offer perks to help you cover the costs? People may not be chatting about those benefits much around the water cooler, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, or that you can’t play a valuable part in making them available if they’re not.

work fertility benefits

Tammy Sun — who co-founded customizable fertility benefit platform Carrot after her own frustrating experience navigating the egg freezing process without employer support — breaks down six common myths about how to take advantage of fertility benefits at work… even the ones that don’t exist yet. Keep scrolling to see how we bust ’em.

1. You should wait until you’re deep into your fertility journey to bring it up at the office. If you’ve internalized the conventional wisdom that says it’s unwise to share pregnancy news until the start of the second trimester, it’s pretty safe to say that you’re not planning to open up the conversation in the workplace about trying to get pregnant before it even happens. That being said, if you have reason to believe that you may need to undergo pricey testing and fertility treatment — or simply want to know your options if that ends up being the case — it’s never too early to start a confidential chat with HR about how the company can support you in your journey to start a family. Connecting with someone you feel comfortable with in human resources sooner rather than later is bound to make future conversations easier too.

2. Only women can lead the conversation. If you’re a woman with a male partner who is hitting dead ends in the search for fertility benefits within your own company, don’t give up. Your S.O. might have better luck. Sun tells us that you may be eligible for benefits through your significant other’s benefits department. Just because you’re the person trying to have a baby doesn’t mean you’re the only one who can do the research and take advantage of company-offered health perks.

3. It’s a solo operation. As always, teamwork makes the dream work. Opening up the conversation with your human resources team about the fertility benefits that are available to you doesn’t need to be an intense, one-on-one interaction. “If you feel comfortable having a colleague at work who’s going through a fertility experience — either similar to yours or very different — go with you, make it a group thing!” Sun says. This will allow more people to be informed and to advocate for their needs. It may also calm your nerves.

4. Asking for what you want and need from HR is going to be scary. “One of the misconceptions or myths that people have about talking to HR is that they won’t get a good response or that it’s too big of a benefit and asking for it might be a futile exercise,” Sun tells us. “I’ve personally talked to hundreds of HR benefit leaders, and they are incredibly responsive and very eager to understand what their employees are thinking.” If you’re embarking on fertility treatments, the best thing that can come out of a conversation with HR is the news that most of those treatments will be covered by your existing insurance. The worst thing? Your point person will better understand the limitations of the company’s benefits and may be able to start the process of supplementing them.

5. Fertility treatment is never going to be manageable with your day-to-day work schedule. Fertility-related benefits extend beyond insurance to time-off and work from home policies. When you’re ready, go directly to your boss and talk through the specifics of those benefits at your company. Be open with them about what you may need in terms of scheduling flexibility while you work on expanding your family. You may be surprised by how existing benefits can accommodate early morning doctor visits and the like.

6. If your company doesn’t offer fertility benefits now, it probably never will. It hasn’t always been the norm for companies to subsidize fertility treatments for their employees, but times are changing — and if you’re willing to be honest with your company about what you need, it could change sooner than you think. Don’t be afraid to note the need for fertility benefits next time HR distributes one of those anonymous surveys. According to Sun, fertility benefit programs are actually fairly accessible for a lot of companies, and while it might feel like you need all the money to truly make an impact in your journey to get pregnant, every little bit counts. Advocating for yourself internally — or by sending an email to the Carrot team so they can reach out to your HR team on your behalf — can be a real game changer.

RELATED: The Truth Behind 6 Commonly Believed Fertility Myths 

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