While closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have affected people around the world, a lack of access to some specialized services can have a significant impact on some who are already struggling.
Jon Waldman of Fertility Matters told 680 CJOB the closure of most fertility clinics across Canada — as doctors are being redirected elsewhere in the medical system — has added more stress to an already emotionally-fraught experience for many couples.
Adding to the frustration is that Wednesday marked the annual Infertility Awareness Week, a time when these issues are brought to the forefront.
“It is soul-crushing, there’s no other way to put it,” Waldman said. “To be thinking you’re going toward a solution and all of a sudden you have to have a hard stop.
“Any procedures that were being planned that haven’t already gone into effect have been delayed. In some cases (internationally)… I’ve heard stories that there are couples whose procedures, including starting their pre-procedure medical, has been stopped mid-point.”
Waldman says he knows that frustration all too well. After years of visiting specialists and trying to get pregnant, he and his wife eventually had a daughter in 2015 via in-vitro fertilization (IVF) — but their struggle with infertility isn’t over.
“We’re still mid-journey, I guess is the best way to put it. We tried IVF again last year, but unfortunately, we miscarried, so we’re not sure what the next step is. All we know is that it’s not over yet.”
On top of the emotional struggles, Waldman said infertility can also be a financial one — and the sudden halt to the process for some couples due to COVID-19 could be costly.
“It can get to be very expensive,” he said. “For the first round of IVF, where you have to both extract the egg and have it re-inserted once fertilization takes place, you’re looking at a cost of between $10-15,000… depending on how much of your medicines and other drugs are covered or not covered under a health insurance plan.
“Overall, it’s definitely a financial burden that you are taking on.”
Thankfully, said Waldman, increased awareness about the issue has led to more resources becoming available for couples facing it — from online Zoom consultations to Facebook groups to online seminars.
“It’s important to know that you’re not alone,” he said.
“This is a unique case right now, given what we’re in the midst of. It’s unprecedented, really… this kind of experience of basically shutting down a lot of aspects of life and a lot of aspects of healthcare.”
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