Pandemic puts fertility treatments on hold for women nationwide

Women across the U.S. have had to postpone their fertility treatments indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, NPR reports.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine issued a new guidance March 17 recommending fertility clinics suspend new treatment cycles and strongly consider canceling all embryo transfers. The guidelines aim to reduce the risk from the unknown effects of the new coronavirus on pregnancy and fertility and also aim to encourage social distancing and ease the demand on the healthcare system, according to NPR.

But many women feel frustrated with this guidance.

"I've never felt so old in my life," said Amy Schmidt Zook, a former emergency room physician who is now a stay-at-home mom, told NPR. "At 43, I'm really falling off the cliff of fertility, and it's just like, oh my gosh, this really could be the end of it."

Beverly Reed, MD, a fertility specialist in Irving, Texas, is also pushing back against the guidance, saying that her patients are confused as to why women who need fertility treatments are being asked to stop trying to get pregnant, despite there not being an overarching guidance asking all American women to not get pregnant right now due to COVID-19 concerns. She began a petition against the guidance, and 15,000 people have signed so far.

Dr. Reed also said that the guidance could unfairly discriminate against homosexual couples and single people, who face more barriers to pregnancy.

But other physicians agree with the guidance.

David Adamson, MD, a former president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and clinical professor at Stanford (Calif.) University School of Medicine told NPR: "Make no mistake: There are definitely women and men who are being harmed by not being able to do IVF. But we have to look at the greater good of society, and there are still too many unanswered questions to say it's OK to go ahead right now."

The guidance is not set in stone. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine task force plans to meet every two weeks to discuss updates to the guidance, and the next meeting is April 14, NPR reports.


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