On March 17th, ASRM gave directions to U.S. fertility clinics advising them to stop all fertility treatments due to COVID-19. The following day on March 18th, I received an email from my clinic that told all patients the clinic would suspend services for an undetermined length of time. Although I was initially disappointed to hear this, I learned soon after how necessary it was.
Catch-up on Previous FET Prep Posts
Countdown Until FET: ? days (Waiting for clinic to reopen after COVID-19 closure)
This will be my last weekly FET PREP post until my clinic approves me to continue with treatment. I will pick up where I left off with my FET PREP posts once my treatment resumes. I’ll be posting on other topics in the mean time.
Clinic Says “No FET” due to COVID-19 Pandemic
Here’s a quick breakdown of how quickly my plans had changed due to COVID-19:
March 10 – Started BCP to down-regulate for scheduled FET.
March 17- ASRM advised clinics to suspend all fertility treatments.
March 18- I received a message from my clinic notifying me of ASRM recommendations, FET cancelled.
March 19- Medications I had ordered previously for FET arrived at my home.
March 24- First day of FET medication would have been this day, had it not been cancelled.
April 24- Original date of FET, now cancelled due to COVID-19 Pandemic.
Honestly the week leading up to the message from my clinic on March 18th was the most agonizing for me. I was stuck in limbo, not knowing whether to fly to my Seattle clinic. If I did fly I would risk getting COVID-19, which is running rampant down there right now. If I chose to postpone my treatment it would push out the timeline for any future egg retrievals even further, and when you have a low AMH level like I do it can cause you to feel like you may miss your chance at being a mother altogether. I went back and forth thinking at times, “I should go now before it gets worse” and also “Seattle has some of the highest numbers of COVID-19, why would you go now?” If I did decide to start injecting myself with the medication, book my flight, and make all the final plans to go, it was possible that President Trump would suspend all domestic travel. He had mentioned on the news several times he was considering it.
Thankfully the decision was taken out of my hands, the ASRM decided to recommend no one do fertility treatments right now. Oddly enough I was relieved and grateful to hear that news. The timing of everything worked out fairly well for me, because I wasn’t in the middle of my cycle. I had only started my BCP and that was it. As it turns out my medicine had just arrived in the mail the day after my clinic suspended all treatments. On the bright side, my medicine has a long shelf-life and should be perfectly fine to use within about a year or so. I was able to avoid being pregnant during one of the worst pandemics of our lifetime, and that would not have been possible if not for the science of reproductive technology, where my little embryo waits safely in it’s cryopreserved state.
Now that the April FET procedure is off the table, there now comes the question of “When will I be able to do my FET?” As of today, no one knows the answer to when women can resume their infertility treatments. It may be a matter of weeks or months before we will be able to continue. But this is a minor inconvenience compared to the fact that so many people are suffering and dying from COVID-19. My heart goes out to all of those affected by the virus and to all of their families.
Digital Roundtable on COVID-19
I recently participated in the “COVID-19 Digital Roundtable Presented by Modern Fertility & Alma” on March 20th. Dr. Jane van Dis (OB-GYN) and Dr. Lucy Hutner (Reproductive Psychiatrist) gave an update on the COVID-19 situation as it relates to family planning including Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART). They answered questions live via Zoom video conferencing. They talked about the emotional impact of having to cancel fertility treatments, especially with regard to how some women feel their “time is running out” due to their diagnosis.
This was my first time using Zoom so I thought it was pretty cool to try something new. It was a good experience. I had some questions written down ahead of time. Many of the other questions that were asked were also on my mind, so I felt a lot of my questions were answered. The one question I asked them was:
“I was taking a prenatal vitamin as well as other vitamins for my upcoming FET. Should I continue to take all of my vitamins as originally planned? Or should I drop down to only taking a prenatal vitamin until my fertility clinic reopens?”
They answered my question saying that it would be fine to continue taking my vitamins. I suppose my concern is there might be a long stretch of time to where I would need to pay extra amounts of money for vitamins. But on the flip side of concerns about cost is the fact that my body will have more time to prepare and absorb the vitamins needed for my future FET.
Main takeaways from the Digital Roundtable:
For pregnant women, doctor’s office visits will become more limited and shift towards telehealth during this pandemic.
Postponing pregnancy is probably recommended during this time, but it is ultimately up to the individual.
Pregnant women have a more suppressed immune system, leaving them susceptible to having complications if they were to contract COVID-19.
Consider that SARS and MERS are similar to COVID-19, and SARS and MERS showed an increased risk of miscarriage rates. There is currently not enough information on COVID-19 relating to increased miscarriage risk.
Now is the time to reach out to friends and family that can support you (using social distancing of course).
Avoid watching the news too much, because it can be overwhelming.
Dr. Lucy Hutner suggested having a “highly flexible mindset” relating to family planning timeframes.
Although I had no control over my clinic closing, after listing to the digital roundtable discussion I feel like it was explained in such a way that it made more sense as to WHY the clinics stopped services. They clearly explained the reasoning behind ASRM’s explanation to close fertility clinics. I highly recommend you listen to the discussion, because it might provide you with some clarity on some of the common questions many of us are asking right now.
To my readers who were about to start their treatment and now it has been delayed due to COVID-19:
I understand your frustration, I felt the same way. You will save yourself so much pain if you accept the circumstances as they are. Just know that this is only temporary. It could be just a matter of weeks before we may be able to resume treatment, we just don’t know. It could also be months. But instead of wasting this time dwelling on the situation, I hope you will find peace in other ways. Here are some healthy coping skills you can do right now; clean your house, get outside (allowing for 6 feet for social distancing), take your dog for a walk, listen to happy music, watch some comedies, take a hot bath, and catch up on sleep. Do whatever you normally do to take care of yourself. We are all in this together.
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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)