How to talk about reproductive health at work?

Author : Nelli Morgulchik BA MRes

Why talk about reproductive health in the first place?

Reproductive health issues are sadly more common than people realise – 1 in 3 women struggle with their reproductive health to some degree in their lifetime.

The impact on women’s day-to-day wellbeing and career can be massive. Symptoms can disrupt productivity at work and even cause someone to leave the workforce altogether.

Furthermore, between 30-60% of employees either avoid talking about their reproductive health problems or lie to their bosses if they need to take time off in absence of specific policies and guidelines in the workplace.

Talking about reproductive health at work can encourage employees to share what they are going through and help them cope with their health struggles. When the workplace culture encourages open conversation and disclosure without a fear of prejudice and judgement, employees feel more understood and supported and are more likely to be more productive day-to-day and remain with their employer for longer.

How do you get these conversations started?

Employers can encourage these conversations through providing educational workshops for their staff to better their team’s understanding of their own and their co-workers’ reproductive health. These workshops serve as catalysts for watercooler peer-to-peer conversations on reproductive health and help foster a culture of communication, empathy and support.

Talking to employees – tips for managers                   

When these conversations become focused on someone’s personal reproductive health concerns or struggles, managers may need more guidance on how to approach these in a sensitive and supportive manner.

Fortunately, experts from Hertility Health have put together useful tips for managers on how to respond to employees and support them in their reproductive health journeys:

  1. Ask them if they are OK or want to talk
  • Sometimes the most obvious approach really is the right one – ask your employees how they are doing and always be there to talk and answer questions.
  • Asking if they need any support may also help, but keep in mind that everyone’s needs and likings are different.

2.  Respect personal boundaries

  • Part of being sensitive means that you should avoid fishing for answers as someone might not be comfortable sharing additional details.
  • This also means that you should not share these matters with anyone without your employee’s expressive permission to do so.

3.   Avoid trivialising their experiences

  • Ensure that you remain professional in your communication with your employees and keep away from any belittling language such as “women’s issues”, “time of the month” and “being hormonal”.

4.   Champion reproductive health education and awareness

  • When an employee confides in you with their reproductive health issues, refer them to resources that you know and trust that can help.

5.  Take initiative and help beyond talking

  • Be proactive if your employee is struggling, ask them how they might like to be supported and suggest different options for them to better manage the coincident pressures of work and health – try to re-allocate workloads to relieve the burden or discuss options for sick leave if there are no established reproductive health policies yet.

Hertility Benefits for Your Workforce

Hertility Health is shaping the future of reproductive health by giving women the ability to understand and manage their hormone health from menstruation to menopause. We believe in a proactive approach to reproductive health – by detecting issues early, we can prevent issues later down the line.

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We partner with leading companies to deliver world-class reproductive health benefits and improve access to reproductive healthcare and education. We believe in personalised plans – for you and your employees – and offer a range of corporate plans and coverage options to suit your needs, from educational workshops, to female health assessments and consultations with in-house experts.

To learn more about Hertility Benefits For Employers, reach out to [email protected] or visit our website.