For Lisa and Travis Bonner, the process of conceiving was stressful enough, but bringing a pandemic into the process overwhelmed the couple who were ready to undergo their fertility treatment.
The 27-year-olds from West Jordan, Utah, were beginning their journey into parenthood after trying to conceive for two years and being diagnosed with unexplained infertility. However, after visiting their local clinic in February, the couple was told their fertility treatment should halt until the COVID-19 outbreak mitigated.
“We were told they (the clinic) weren’t doing anything for fertility during COVID, and if we couldn’t get pregnant, they wanted it to stay that way,” said Lisa Bonner.
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This is why clinics turned to at-home fertility tests. Products such as Proov help women measure progesterone, the hormone linked to the potential of pregnancy after ovulation. Other kits, such as YO Sperm and Fellow, help men with semen analysis.
“We saw an increase in sales, and people wanted to continue with fertility,” said Amy Beckley, CEO of Proov. The company experienced a 234% increase between January and October compared to the same period last year.
The Bonner family was among the couples who used at-home fertility tests, indicating it was a relief to see some type of progress.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) issued guidance in March urging healthcare providers to suspend the initiation of all new treatment cycles, including ovulation induction, intrauterine inseminations, in vitro fertilization (IVF) and egg freezing, as well as to consider the cancellation of all embryo transfers. This created a backlog in treatments, leaving many couples uncertain on when they might be able to get pregnant.
The new guidance was met with opposition from fertility specialists across the country. The Fertility Providers Alliance criticized the ASRM’s recommendations, claiming it violated the principles of justice, autonomy, and nonmaleficence. The petition by the Alliance garnered over 20,000 signatures.
For the Bonner family, bloodwork and hysterosalpingograms were canceled in March, when they were beginning their fertility tests, a month after their initial visit.
Cancellations have distressed women who feel they are racing the clock and do not want to risk a decrease in fertility while they wait for treatment.
As cases of the virus continue to surge in the United States, some clinics across the nation remain closed, while others have opened depending on their local restrictions or pivoted to virtual appointments.
Video: Public Health Officials Urge People to Get Tested as Virus Cases Spike (CBS SF Bay Area)
Fertility doctor Aimee Eyvazzadeh runs a clinic in San Ramon, California, where she had to cancel appointments and medications