Infertility in the Time of the Coronavirus
As the COVID-19 virus rages around us, there’s a seemingly interminable list of concerns to consider.
But does “having a baby” make the list? Is it warranted, with every other health consideration wracking our brains and our communities?
If infertility isn’t the battle you’ve been bravely facing, then waiting makes sense. However, if infertility has already caused delays in your family building plans, then more waiting likely feels like a postponement that is an assault on your heart.
There’s a battle raging between your heart and your mind, or rather, your brain.
What Your Brain Says…
Your brain, rational organ that it is, understands and even agrees that it is a safer and saner decision to delay fertility treatment while there’s so much chaos swirling around public safety, medical resources and what is considered essential and non-essential procedures.
What Your Heart Says…
Your heart or your gut (also known as your instincts, third eye, intuition, or soul) sees it differently. Feels it differently. Your heart is consumed by the desire to move ahead with this deeply rooted and instinctual urge to have a baby.
So What Do We Listen to?
We’re aiming high here—aspiring to align our hearts and heads, to reach decisions that feel deeply comfortable, on both an instinctual and rational level. But how do we do that, especially when the two are saying different things?
Let’s get to the bottom of it by answering questions our team at RMA of Connecticut has been hearing repeatedly since the coronavirus has become such a major health and safety concern.
Is Fertility Treatment Important While We’re in this Pandemic?
Of course it is! Infertility is a reproductive disease, recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).
First and foremost, everyone’s focus needs to be on safety. With the severe spread of this virus, we all must do our part to care for both our own personal safety and the safety of others, particularly for those that are more susceptible during this pandemic.
Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to continue your family building journey, even during this time.
Some services you can utilize while social distancing:
If you’ve been trying to conceive for over a year, or you’re over 35 and been trying for six months, or if you have an underlying condition preventing you from becoming pregnant, make an appointment. Get the ball rolling by finding out what testing needs to be done and can be done right now! There’s absolutely no harm in moving forward with a consultation, especially when you can do it from the privacy and safety of your own home.
RMA of Connecticut has the ability (as do other fertility practices) to communicate with you in a HIPAA compliant way that protects you and any information that you would share.
At RMA of Connecticut, other types of appointments are also available through telemedicine programs, including new patient appointments and follow ups.
Fertile Yoga on Facebook Live
In 2019, research showed that Fertile Yoga can decrease stress and sadness and increase hopefulness (aka optimism!). That research was presented at the ASRM conference. Right now, who doesn’t need a little stress reduction and a little boost in hopefulness?
Ladies Night In and Couples Night In
Our popular in-person support groups have gone virtual, but no less supportive! Lisa Rosenthal also leads a warm and caring support network online through a private Facebook group. (Email me directly to join the group and virtual support sessions. Open to the public.)
Free Virtual Health Coaching
We are offering free health coaching sessions to our current patients with Nurse Practitioner, Monica Moore. (Email Monica directly to set up your call.)
Pop Up Virtual Content
We are constantly adding Q&As, live chats, and other interactive and virtual meetups to our calendar. Make sure you in the know with everything going on by either checking our events calendar or following us on Facebook and Instagram.
Take advantage of all our virtual support groups, livestreams, and more!
What Do I Say to My Family and Friends About Why I’m Continuing Fertility Treatment?
Family and friends may offer a lot of unsolicited advice about what you “should” or “should not” do right now. My suggestion is to write a script for yourself about how you would like to answer.
And then stick to it!
You may need to change or adapt the script depending on who’s offering the advice, but be a Fertility Warrior right now and be your own champion. Why? Because your decision to continue or not to continue fertility treatment is your decision. No one else’s. If you have a partner, of course you’ll need to agree and be on the same page.
One example of a script you can use:
“We’ve decided to continue fertility treatment because we’re comfortable with the measures that our fertility program has taken and because we’ve read the literature about the safety issues. We’d prefer not to talk more about it but will keep you updated.” End of sentence.
Another idea is not to discuss your fertility treatment at all. If you decide on that, please do get support from other places. The last thing anyone needs right now is to feel more isolated and alone.
Lastly, one Fertility Warrior (patient) shared this idea. “Tell them to mind their own business!”
It’s all in the delivery.
When We Get to the New Normal, Then What About Fertility Treatment?
Well, that’s a really good question with a really good answer.
When this health threat is under control (which will happen, sooner rather than later), it seems like a safe assumption that fertility treatment will resume in full force.
One silver lining from all this is that protocols that were put into place because of this highly contagious virus will likely stay in place, even beyond when it’s absolutely necessary. Please understand that safety, hygiene, cleanliness, and sterilization always were and always will be a foundation of any fertility clinic’s best practices.
Coping Methods for Delaying or Continuing Fertility Treatment While Social Distancing
See above for programs that will keep you connected.
Use your time.
If you’ve ever dreamed of more time, it’s possible that you have some extra right now, whether you wanted it or not.
Point is, did you ever have a dream of what you would do with more time? Paint? Dance? Learn a new language? Reorganize your closets, kitchen, drawers, bathroom? Read the books that you have on your kindle? Take an online class? Write a story? Reconnect with certain friends? Garden? Take your furry friends for a safe walk?
Make this extra time your time.
Give yourself a break.
“Being productive” might be a nice idea, but not the right idea. If being productive feels elusive, give yourself permission to binge watch a series or join a fun online group (emphasis on fun!).
Suggestion- take 10 minutes every hour to move around no matter how unproductive you’ve decided to be. Walking around in your house (or outside if that’s possible) is more than enough.
Have a good laugh.
Yup. This is a hard one but a good one. Here are a few more suggestions:
- Zach Timson- from Broadway.
- Hilariously Infertile visits RMA of Connecticut.
- Male Factor- funny, not funny.
- How’s the relationship going with this much togetherness?
Consider that anything you’re doing, if it’s not in excess, is probably healthy-ish. But it’s hard not to be excessive with binge watching or googling, so here are some ideas on how to keep it healthy enough.
- Allocate a certain amount of time to binge watch Netflix, to scroll on Instagram, plan that fake trip to Bora Bora, etc. Then, once that time is up, move onto something else. (P.S. You’re allowed to press snooze on your time limit and go for a few more!)
- Sitting on the couch only feels good for so much time before your body actually feels uncomfortable. Take 10 minutes per hour to move around. Walking in or out of the house, yoga, whatever feels best to you.
- Resist complete isolation! Even if you look awful because you’ve not showered in way too long or taken a hairbrush to your hair and make up is a thing of the past, you can show up! Do a video call and keep the camera off if you absolutely must. It’s ok, you won’t be the only one.
Fertility Patients Share Their Thoughts
“Infertility was a roller coaster, but this is crazy! I’m going to do my best to be healthy so when I can do IVF again, I’ll be the best me I can be.” MB
“I’ve said it before and nothing’s changed—nothing is stopping me from having my baby. Whatever I’m ‘allowed’ to do, I’m doing it.” ES
“Walking into RMA of Connecticut, with carefully scheduled appointments, with no one else in the waiting room, with social distancing and obvious safety measures taken was so reassuring. The sad part was not having my husband with me, but even that is something I appreciate because it’s for everyone’s safety.” FT
“Thank you to the fertility doctors and the nurses, medical assistants, the lab for staying open. Not having to completely stop my treatment has helped keep me sane in an insane world.” GR
What Else Do I Need to Consider About Fertility Treatment Right Now?
One last thing about waiting or not waiting for fertility treatment in the time of the coronavirus, whatever you do or don’t do, please don’t shame yourself.
Your desire to have a baby has not disappeared and please, let that be ok. In fact, admire your determination! The instinct towards wanting a family is a strong one, in fact, it’s a biological one. It comes right after the need for food, water, and shelter. Honor that desire and need and know that even if delayed, there’s a path to your family out there. Even if it’s not the one you expected or wanted, it’s there.
And we’re here to help you find it.
Would you like to set up your telehealth appointment with a counselor, nutritionist, or doctor?
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.