COVID and IVF: How the treatment process will progress over the next few months

COVID-19 has had a harrowing impact on all of our lives in some shape or form. Some have lost jobs, others are mourning the death of a loved one, some have had weddings cancelled and others have been furloughed.

Thousands of women have had their IVF treatments postponed due to the current health pandemic. There's no doubt that this is extremely unnerving and upsetting time for those women so we spoke to Aoife Corley, Midwife Manager, ReproMed about how to cope with postponed treatments and how the treatment process will progress over the next few months.

Aoife tells us what to expect re-COVID push backs and how to remain hopeful and take care of your mental health over the coming weeks and months.

"Five-six thousand people undergo fertility treatment in Ireland each year and the emotional and psychological toll is enormous. However, Covid-19 has caused delays and cancellations for everything from graduations and weddings to medical procedures and for couples seeing IVF transfers get postponed when time is of the essence has had a devastating blow during an already stressful time -  especially for patients in their forties or those  struggling to conceive as a result of recurrent pregnancy or implantation failure.

"After a number of weeks of closure, all Irish fertility clinics were back up and running in early May, but if your treatment was postponed, if your transfer was planned and delayed or if you were about to start your fertility journey before the outbreak of COVID-19, there are things that you can continue to do to stay motivated, positive and healthy until you get to the next stage."

Aoife shared 5 vital tips that will help women affected by the closures of fertility clinics. 

  1. Continue taking your folic acid supplement

  2. Keep active.  Exercise in the outdoors as much as possible, this is also good for your mental wellbeing

  3. Try and eat well and maintain a healthy diet.  This is harder with so many of us at home and the temptation of the fridge but do your best!

  4. Get a good night’s sleep. Good sleep hygiene is so important so turn off the phones and screens before bedtime, keep your bedroom cool and avoid caffeine and alcohol as much as possible.

  5. Keep connected and talk to friends and family. Undergoing fertility treatment can feel very isolating so if you’re comfortable, chat to those you trust about how you are feeling.   Talking about what you are going through can make it seem so much less daunting.

Aoife has urged patients to remain hopeful and positive as Ireland eases out of lockdown, "Clinics are doing their very best to get couples to a happy and successful pregnancy and will do everything they can to make sure it’s as safe a process for all."

In relation to how clinics in Ireland will have to operate under Government Guidelines, the overall process will be different. According to Aoife, there will be strict social distancing practices which will mean fewer people in a clinic at any one time, making sure of appointment punctuality. Starting with small numbers, ReproMed will be prioritising those patients who had started their journey and who may have a lower fertility prognosis. PPE equipment will be worn when with patients, husbands and partners will be asked to wait outside in order to reduce numbers on site, online payments will be advised and the continued use of online consultations will be undertaken in order to process as many couples as possible.

Above all else, the health and safety of all patients and staff involved at every stage is of the utmost importance and this will continue to be the case over the coming months.

Aoife Corley is the Nurse and Midwife Manager at ReproMe.

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