Two years since the coronavirus pandemic started, the cloud of Covid-19 lingers on. On the one hand, it seems the government strategy has switched to one of learning to live with this pandemic. However, with some restrictions still in place and ongoing risks, the situation for anyone undergoing fertility treatment is challenging. Research conducted last year suggested that as a result, the number of live births by women over 40 could reduce by almost a quarter. Here at Access Fertility, we wanted to offer our support to anyone going through this already-difficult journey. With that in mind, we’ve put together five tips for anyone undergoing IVF during the Covid pandemic.
- Find out how your clinic is handling the Covid challenges
All IVF clinics licensed by the HFEA (the UK regulator for fertility clinics) have introduced measures to ensure their clinics are safe for patients to visit and receive treatment. However, many clinics are struggling with the same staffing issues as other sectors, which can cause delays to treatment. We recommend talking to your clinic about how they are navigating the pandemic and what they are doing to maintain their high levels of service.
Perhaps now more than ever, it’s important to choose a clinic that’s close to you, to minimise disruption and reduce the risk involved with longer journeys.
To see all the leading IVF clinics who partner with Access Fertility to offer our programmes, visit our clinic finder.
- Ensure you’re vaccinated
The advice from The British Fertility Society is now crystal clear: there is absolutely no evidence, and no theoretical reason, that any of the vaccines can affect the fertility of women or men. This includes whether you are trying on your own or having fertility treatment.
Furthermore, the NHS and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has said vaccination against COVID-19 is recommended in pregnancy and is the safest and most effective way of protecting pregnant women and their babies from coronavirus infection.
We cannot recommend more highly that you get your vaccination, to help protect yourself, and hopefully your baby, from infection. Such is the perceived risk of not being vaccinated, that some countries are even preventing unvaccinated women from undergoing IVF (see this article in the Telegraph).
- Don’t feel alone
Since a positive Covid-19 test would mean having to cancel a cycle of IVF, it’s easy to understand why many people are isolating to avoid missing out on their chance to start a family (see this article in the Independent). However, it’s important to strike a balance between staying safe, while avoiding the risk to your mental health by locking away. Find your support network, whether in a limited number of friends and family you can meet safely, perhaps outdoors, or in relevant online forums (check out our recent blog about the Fertility Help Hub community). Make sure you have someone you can talk to about your experience, and that you can get the support you need.
Do also bear in mind that many of the clinics, and Access Fertility, have adapted their policies to allow for postponing cycles due to Covid-19. While this can’t prevent the disappointment of the delay, it can at least offer some financial reassurance. Check out our Covid-19 FAQs, and be sure to find the same for your clinic.
- Consider freezing your eggs
Given the uncertainty of the times we are in, it’s not surprising that more women than ever before are considering freezing their eggs (see this article in the Times). For some women who currently do not feel ready to have a child, this can be a good idea to improve their chances of successful IVF treatment later. Consult with your fertility specialist to discuss your situation and to understand the best options for you. Please be aware that unfortunately Access Fertility’s plans only cover the use of embryos created on our programmes.
- Preparing for a lockdown baby
Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic has not only affected IVF treatment, but also the situation for those lucky patients who have a baby as a result. The rules in hospitals are changing all the time, so do keep an eye on the latest regulations so you know what to expect for your labour. It may be that you can’t have a partner with you for all of the labour, and you may wish to prepare for that however you can.
Many of our Access Fertility patients have recently shared their experience of having a baby during lockdown. You can read their stories in our blog.