Staying Optimistic During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Official organizations like the ASRM are recognizing that managing fertility treatments during the current pandemic is a largely unknown, existential problem that is changing daily for patients, health care providers and society. While it’s no easy task to balance the interests of all those involved in fertility care, recent updates from the ASRM show that the industry as a whole is approaching their guidance during this difficult time with compassion, empathy and a focus on morally sound advice.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recently released a second update (April 13, 2020 through April 27, 2020) to its Patient Management and Clinical Recommendations During The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, which supports the original recommendations that all new treatments must be suspended unless they are urgent. With COVID-19 infections expected to peak in the U.S. in the next two to four weeks, there are greater needs still in front of fertility treatments determined by physicians to be non-urgent in some areas of the country.
There is good news though. We’re seeing signs of real hope that fertility treatments may begin increasing in a matter of weeks.
As per the ASRM, “While it is not yet prudent to resume non-emergency infertility procedures, the Task Force recognizes it is also time to begin to consider strategies and best practices for resuming time-sensitive fertility treatments in the face of COVID-19.” This could open the door for more urgent and emergency cases to be considered, which, in some cases, may include older or diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) patients.
The ASRM has also reaffirmed that infertility is a disease and it is important to return to treatments as soon as possible, because of the significant burden on infertility patients, IVF clinics and other fertility health care providers: “Increasingly, U.S. states and localities are appropriately recognizing infertility care as essential services. These states are leaving the specifics around patient prioritization, resource management, and protocols for safe care to the medical community.”
There is also now a clear timeline for making a return to routine fertility treatments a reality. The ASRM Task Force has outlined initial criteria for making decisions regarding restarting treatments, with the goal of publishing their recommendations by April 27. Among the key considerations are the health and safety of the patients, physicians, and staff, the time-sensitivity of patient diagnoses and the progression of the pandemic in different areas of the country.
No one is expecting a return to “business as usual” any time soon, but the ASRM’s recent updates, as well as SART’s published guidelines on current protocols for providing any care during this pandemic, is a heartening sign of progress. In cases where patients require urgent fertility treatments, the ASRM and SART guidance documents will support individuals with the very best patient resources, as well as thorough, evidence-based direction for physicians that speaks to the complex needs and decisions of those undergoing fertility treatment.