Infertility treatments are being delayed as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to suspend elective medical procedures across the country, creating uncertainty for patients who have dreamed of becoming parents.
“We were told to stop elective cases, only cases of preserving cancerous fertility are allowed to continue,” says Dr. Rahi Victory, who followed the recommendations of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (SAFC) to suspend services at Victory Reproductive Care in Windsor, Ont.
These suspensions affect patients in the midst or about to start fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Melissa Mailloux and her husband James have been trying to conceive with IVF for two years.
“The trip was long and difficult,” says Mailloux. “Lots of doctor visits, interviews, blood tests and money spent. “
The couple had two embryos ready for transfer in April, but their long-awaited timing was suddenly postponed due to the pandemic.
“I try to be patient. Stress is a big reason why IVF doesn’t work, ”she says.
Mailloux is one of many women in the Fertility Friends infertility support group who have their dreams of maternity on break.
Stacey Robert-Tobin created Fertility Friends in 2017 to provide a space where women struggling to conceive can connect and support each other. She says the pandemic has caused anxiety for many members and a sense of hopelessness.
“It is incredibly devastating to the women and families who have been expecting a child for so long. Waiting for procedures can sometimes take up to two to three years, “she said.
Although the procedures will eventually resume, many women have already spent thousands of dollars on drugs during the preparation phase.
“For those who do not have drug coverage, you are considering a substantial investment in drugs. On average, it’s probably between $ 3,000 and $ 40 for an IVF cycle, “says Victory.
He says that the demographics most affected by delayed treatment are those with weak ovaries, which is more common in older women.
“If you have a high ovarian reserve, a delay of a month or two won’t make a difference. But for patients of what we call the reduction of the ovarian reserve, these patients after three months see compromises. “
Victory is working alongside the national committee to propose guidelines to ensure the procedures are safely reopened.