Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! I don’t know about you, but the COVID-19 pandemic has already impacted my life, both in small ways and in big ways. A decent amount of people I know are not able to go to work. My city has restricted people to not allow them to eat in restaurants, exercise in gyms, or go to the movie theaters. It’s being taken very seriously in many parts of the world. President Trump has mentioned he may possibly restrict domestic travel to locations where the outbreak is the worst. Seattle has some of the highest number of cases of COVID-19 and unfortunately this is where my fertility clinic is located. Now comes the question of whether I should continue with treatment as planned, and the answer is more complicated than you might think.
Catch-up on Previous FET Prep Posts
Countdown Until FET: 38 days (as of 3-17-2020)
Possible COVID-19 Domestic Travel Restrictions
I recently read on CNN that President Trump is considering restricting domestic travel to certain parts of the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He has not made a decision as of yet, but with the news rapidly changing by the day it could very well happen at any time. If he does this it will impact people in many ways, and for those of us who have no choice but to travel for infertility treatment it creates many issues. The fact that he already restricted travelers from China and Europe shows that he might follow through with the domestic travel restrictions as well. I have been following the CDC guidelines and comparing it to the WHO guidelines regarding travel during this time. I wish President Trump and the government would make a decision faster on whether to restrict domestic travel. I need to know and I need to know ASAP, as do many other people undergoing fertility treatment.
Postpone Fertility Treatment?
I emailed my doctor’s office this morning asking my doctor, “Do you recommend I postpone my FET due to the COVID-19 pandemic?” I have yet to hear a response. Several days ago the clinic sent out a letter that essentially said they were keeping their clinic clean and they are still doing procedures at that time. I’ve been checking my email regularly to see if there are any updates from them.
At this time it could really go either way, I could just as easily not travel as I could continue with my plans to travel. At first I thought that it was all blown out of proportion, but now I see the gravity of the situation is really coming to a head. Instead of relying solely on the news networks or social media (please don’t do that!) to determine whether I should continue with my treatments, I am focusing staying up-to-date with the more reputable sources of information:
American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) Novel Corona virus (SARS-COV-2) and COVID-19 Updates
I will also take into careful consideration what my fertility clinic says. One of the big concerns I have is that I will get the green light to go ahead with treatment and inject myself with $1,000 worth of medication, only to be told that President Trump is restricting domestic travel to where my fertility clinic is. It’s a real dilemma, and it would really suck. But there are definitely worse things that could happen, and I know other people are dealing with way harder situations.
I am waiting for the pharmacy to respond back to my email about my order of my medication for the FET. The patient representative I’m working with had an automatic email reply to my order that said she was out of the office. I hope the lady isn’t out of the office due to COVID-19 restrictions and therefore not able to respond to my order. I plan on ordering my medication whether I postpone my treatment or not, as long as my medication doesn’t expire shortly after ordering. From what I recall, most fertility medicine has a long shelf-life. I’m supposed to be starting my FET medication in seven days and I have yet to receive them. I have not made my final decision as to whether to continue with my FET or to postpone it. Soon enough that might be decided for me, either by the government or by my clinic.
The Skyrocketing Cost of Leuprolide
Another stressor I’ve been dealing with this week is I’ve been making many phone calls trying to track down a specialty pharmacy with decently priced Leuprolide, also known as Lupron. This time last year I was quoted for the same exact amount of Leuprolide at $148.59, but this year the cost is $549.90. If you do the math, the price has nearly quadrupled. I spoke with multiple specialty pharmacies that specialize in fertility medication and this was the best price I could get. If I had endless amounts of time to scour the internet and make phone calls I might be able to find a cheaper price, but time is not on my side. As I mentioned earlier, I only have seven days before I’m supposed to be injecting this medicine. Mind you, I live in Alaska so I also have to factor in the extra time it takes for my medicine to get to me from out of state.
After talking with my insurance company, my clinic, and multiple specialty pharmacies I decided to go ahead and place my order with the original pharmacy that gave me the quote. Some of the pharmacies refused to give me a price quote without the prescription, so I had to call my fertility doctor multiple times and ask them to send out my prescription to different places just to get a quote. I heard from everyone I spoke with about it that the cost of Leuprolide has increased dramatically this year, all across the country.
The fact that Leuprolide seems to have artificially increased in price so dramatically really angers me. I told my husband the other day, “After all of this s***, I am going to DC next year.” In the past I have thought about lobbying for reproductive rights through RESOLVE in Washington DC to include fertility treatment rights. I feel very strongly that it is not okay for companies and clinics to jack up prices so high that women dealing with infertility who are low-income have zero options. I consider myself very lucky that I was able to win a grant for my first round of IVF, and my mom helped me with part of the second round, but there are so many people out there who have no help. Everything I’ve been through really motivates me to speak up in Washington DC and to talk to my congressman about why this is important. Women’s rights should include access to fertility treatment if they choose to pursue it. Fertility clinics, fertility pharmacies, and insurance companies should not be unregulated to where it feels like the Wild West and prices for treatment can be increased dramatically with no explanation other than, “prices change from year to year.” Yes, but no one is explaining to me why that is happening other than simply ending the conversation with that statement. Let’s be transparent, all across the board. Any time I get really mad about this infertility treatment process I find myself saying, “I’m going to DC” and some day I plan on doing just that. I have some connections with people who have lobbied in DC through RESOLVE so I have some insider information on how it works. I think it’s definitely in my future if given the opportunity.
Mini Victories for the Week
Not losing my mind with all the Coronavirus issues coming up.
Took the time to call around to price shop for fertility medications on a short timeline.
Got my month’s worth of groceries that is being recommended due to Coronavirus. I was able to get fruits and veggies too, both perishable and non-perishable.
Work in Progress
Waiting to hear back from my fertility clinic whether they will still remain open. Continue to check email for word of any cancellation of treatment.
Reduce stress! Schedule an alarm in my phone to meditate daily, listen to more happy music, watch comedies.
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Want to find out how fertile you are?
The Modern Fertility test is an affordable test that shows your hormone levels and gives you an overall picture of where you stand with your fertility. I recommend taking this test at least every 9-12 months to keep track of your hormone levels. What hormones will be tested? Depending on the type of birth control you are on they can test up to eight different hormone levels which may include:
AMH (Anti-mullerian hormone)
FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone)
LH (Luteinizing hormone)
TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone)
FT4 (Free thyroxine)