Since the issuance of Governor Northam’s Declaration of a State Emergency on March 12, 2020, which was followed by executive orders declaring a public emergency and bringing about the stay at home period in quick succession, many of the families we serve have had their fears over their health and the health of their loved ones compounded by the suspension of fertility services. However, as Virginia has now entered Phase One allowing for the easing of business restrictions, many of Virginia’s fertility clinics have resumed providing treatments to new and existing patients.
Many of you have been patiently waiting to start or restart your journey to grow your family. But many of you still have questions. Is it safe to resume fertility treatments now? Will you have to go to the doctor’s office? And if so, how will that work? What protocols are in place to protect you? What impact might COVID-19 have on a pregnancy?
In order to calm fears around trips to the doctor’s office before any treatments have begun, clinics are offering virtual appointments utilizing telemedicine. Telemedicine simply refers to the practice of providing medical care remotely where the doctor or other medical professional is not physically present with the patient. Telemedicine has been around for some time but is an especially helpful tool as medical providers and patients continue to navigate health care during the pandemic. Medical professionals utilize technology to see and speak with their patients and to gain access to vital information, typically via secure web portals, to ensure that they can appropriately diagnose and treat patients.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (“ASRM”) has provided guidance on the issues surrounding the safety of initiating fertility treatments and continues to analyze the impact of COVID-19 on patients’ responses to fertility treatments and early pregnancy. While there are no definitive answers yet, in order to address these concerns, ASRM is encouraging medical providers and their patients to participate in studies in order to gain this much needed information.
If you have concerns about how your health may be impacted by undergoing fertility treatments right now, the best thing to do is to talk to your doctor. This is especially important if you have underlying medical conditions that might put you at an increased risk of complications if you become infected with coronavirus. Express your fears and concerns. You and your doctor can develop a plan to minimize your risk. In fact, ASRM is advising doctors to engage in discussions with their patients to address both the risks and benefits of pursuing fertility treatments during the pandemic. Each person’s situation is unique and should be specifically considered in formulating a treatment plan, especially under our current circumstances.
Overall, there is hope. Experts are working hard to get the information needed to effectively understand and address the impact of COVID-19 on fertility outcomes. Do not despair. We have provided links to a few resources to help you get started.