Struggling with subfertility no matter when, always brings pain and suffering, whether it be in a couple or as a single person wishing to get pregnant on their own. Never has this pain been more pronounced than in this pandemic, which has widened the chasm between those who seem to get pregnant at the drop of a hat and whose babies at this time will become the new “coronials”, and those who look on and wait in agony.
Fertility care has come to a resounding standstill during the lockdown, while at no other time in recent history has the notion of family meant so much, especially when you don’t have one.
The long and harrowing wait for fertility treatment
The worst injustice about the whole situation is that people who need fertility treatment have often suffered for many years and have had to endure a long and harrowing process to get to the point of treatment.
For many, this has involved considerable emotional and financial sacrifice. Many have faced years of stigma and discrimination, including that on the NHS, where a very strict set of criteria has to be fulfilled to qualify for funding.
The NHS is an organisation where rules are free to be interpreted differently and local clinical commissioning groups have reign over their own criteria independent of national guidance.
Added to which there’s the stigma imposed by society who more often than not, don’t recognise subfertility as a disease, but as a self-imposed condition secondary to career prioritisation or refusing to settle down too soon.
In the pandemic, where fertility treatment is not possible, patients are left facing a whole new level of discrimination, this time imposed by a new virus, that shows no signs of leaving our population any time soon. A virus that is actively preventing patients from being able to access the very care that offers them their only chance of having a family.
It’s one of the cruellest double whammies almost impossible to endure, in particular given the uncertainties of when treatment can resume and when we can gain the confidence to predict the virus’s pattern of behaviour in pregnancy.
So here is the problem in summary. To date, it’s only been possible to gain evidence and date prospectively about this virus, that so far has not been around for long enough for us to understand the true and entire effects on pregnancy.