Starting Fertility Treatment During A Pandemic
The Gift of Time
Dr John Waterstone
More and more couples and individuals are beginning their fertility journeys since the coronavirus epidemic swept the country. There is no doubt that the pandemic has had a huge impact on how we live our lives, and while it has taken away so much, it has at the same time, given us a gift of time to evaluate our priorities.
In a recent survey of nearly 400 of our patients across our five clinics, we asked what changes the pandemic has brought about. 82% of them answered that it has made them value family more. 71% agreed that the pandemic had given them more time to think about starting a family.
Many couples have been trying for a family during the pandemic, and have asked for fertility advice. Fertility is strongly linked to the age of the woman. For women aged over 35, our advice is to see a fertility specialist after six months of trying; and after a year of trying if you are under 35. If you are part of a couple, your fertility potential should be assessed together. The tests are very simple: women need some blood tests, including an Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) blood test, and a fertility-focused ultrasound scan. Male partners need a simple semen analysis test. Looking at all the results together, we can build a picture of your overall fertility health, including your ovarian reserve (the number of eggs in your ovaries).
Having a fertility check doesn’t always mean you will need fertility treatment. Some couples only need reassurance and advice, and some need treatment. If you do need treatment, we will build a plan with a recommendation for a treatment that will give you the best chance of success. There are simple and low-cost treatments such as Ovulation Induction (where you take medication, and conception takes place through intercourse at home) or Intrauterine Insemination (where you take medication and conception takes place through a simple procedure). If you need more specialised intervention, we may recommend IVF or ICSI treatment.
Fertility treatment can be a stressful time for couples, and even more so in the time of COVID-19. Right now, a key worry for many is how soon can they start their journey. While fertility testing and treatment were paused at the height of lockdown in March and April, international guidelines have been updated and fertility services are now classed as essential, so they are not restricted, even at Level 5 in Ireland. We have implemented many health and safety measures to keep our patients, staff and clinics safe and COVID-free.
Many people worry that they are losing time, that their fertility is declining and they might miss their opportunity to have a baby. Time can be the enemy of fertility, so use the gift of time: have an assessment and make sure that time is on your side.
Dr John Waterstone is Medical Director of Waterstone Clinic