Dealing With The IVF Lockdown
Anyone experiencing fertility issues will know the stress involved – doing it at the right time, looking for your cervical mucus, peeing on a stick to see if you are ovulating, the ongoing healthy living – no alcohol, no coffee, the right exercise, acupuncture, meditation, reflexology – anything that will help – and then the monthly disappointment.
You and your partner decide to look into IVF, and that feels right for you both. You start attending open days at clinics, you find the one that is right for you. Then there is a feeling of excitement, its finally going to happen, you get to start next month. Then a pandemic occurs and your IVF has been postponed for the forseeable future. In a million scenarios that you envisaged, this was not one of them.
The HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, took the advice of scientific and medical experts and had no alternative but to ask fertility clinics to stop treatments, only allowing patients to complete any cycle they have started.
Having spoken to a number of my patients who have had their IVF procedures postponed, there is a range of emotions – sadness, acceptance, frustration and sometimes all of the above. The good news however is that this is not permanent. While we don’t know exactly when things will get moving again, we have to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The HFEA issued the following statement last week – The Authority agreed that at this point in time, four criteria are particularly critical in any such decision:
- that Government restrictions on social contact and travel are lifted or eased
that restarting fertility treatment would not have a negative impact on the NHS
that there was no evidence that Covid-19 impacted on the health of pregnant women or their babies
that fertility clinics are able to provide a safe service
What You Can Do To Help Yourself
The Fertility Network has posted Coping Strategies with a Specialist Fertility Counsellor which is a useful tool to have on hand. You may have your own counsellor you have been working with and continuing your sessions will always be beneficial.
I have told all of my patients to please to contact me if they need anything – advice, a shoulder, on-line consultations. If you are seeing another acupuncturist please contact them and see what they are offering to help you. We are a pretty benevolent community!
There are also numerous networks on Facebook and Instagram and you can get in touch with them. They are your lifeline and support right now. They know exactly what you are feeling and its so helpful to hear from others who are going through the same as you.
Keep in touch with your fertility clinic. They will be in the best possible position to let you know current guidelines and offer you reassurance.
Kamal Ojha, Medical Director at Concept Fertility Clinic echoes my thoughts. Dr Ojha commented as follows: “On the brighter side my thoughts on looking at the current daily broadcast from Public Health England, the NHS hospitals are now coping with Covid cases and have spare capacity. This trend will continue to improve in the next few weeks with the current measures for lockdown. With the next review by the Government at the end of the first week of May we will hear if and when we are ready to resume fertility services. I suspect that we may start treatment in a phasic manner and probably plan to resume sooner rather than later. Concept Fertility Clinic is open for online consultations and advice at present for those who want to plan treatment. The advice would be to start preparing both physically and mentally, keeping in mind your treatment will be starting at some point in the next 1-2 months.”
Bearing in mind Dr. Ojha’s comments above, it is very important to continue with the preparation you were undertaking prior to the lockdown – supplements, nutrition, exercise. Meditation is another useful tool that can be used – please see my fertility app Baby In Mind which can be purchased on the App Store. As soon as I am back up and running, I will be contacting everyone to assist you in the preparation of your next step on your journey.
I sincerely hope this has helped you. See you on the other side!
Melanie Hackwell, , BSc (Hons) Lic.Ac.
Tui Na, MBAcC, AFN
Melanie has clinics at Feel Good Balham, home clinic in Balham, Fix East London, Neal’s Yard Covent Garden and works in collaboration with Concept Fertility, Wandsworth.