From disrupted schedules to financial instability, COVID-19 has reshaped our world in the past few months. With such blatant disturbance comes fear and an incredible amount of stress for everyone affected. Such stress is normal in times like these—we all look to our schedules and routine for stability and reassurance.
But for couples currently undergoing infertility treatments, these times can be especially rough. Not only are they dealing with the financial, personal, and general stress of the pandemic, but also financial and physiological stress from the infertility treatment process. Because fertility is sensitive to age, some older couples might also have temporal stressors added to the top of the pile.
It’s scary, yes—but if you are in this situation, it’s important to remember that you aren’t alone. Fertility doctors are here for you and want to help you build the family you’ve dreamed of. This pandemic might set you back on your timeline by a few months, but your dreams are still there, and fertility doctors want to help you reach them.
When you’re stuck at home, going to traditional appointments and finding in-person care options can be next to impossible. So, with doctors discouraging in-person care, how can you make sure you still get the support you need?
The safest option is telemedicine, or medical care provided digitally from a distance through a computer or over the phone. Telemedicine is a fantastic resource for at-home medical care and is rapidly becoming a daily practice in the United States. This method of care has a zero percent chance of transmission and is faster and easier than driving to your doctor’s office. (And in many cases, cheaper too!) Telemedicine is typically used for simple follow ups, planning, medication adjustments, and management of chronic conditions.
Ask your clinic if they offer telemedicine services. If they do, see if you can talk to your doctor to create a 6-month game plan for your treatment. Just because in-person appointments are being discouraged doesn’t mean that you can’t plan for future treatments with your doctor.
If your treatment requires you to come in for an appointment, make sure that you follow the CDC guidelines for proper handwashing, maintain social distance, and call ahead to let your doctor know if you have recently traveled or are showing COVID-19 symptoms.
To learn more about the risk factors, symptoms, and latest updates of the coronavirus, you can visit the CDC COVID-19 website here. To see what SCRC specifically is doing to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community, you can find that information in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update article.
Making the most of it
A big part of dealing with infertility is taking care of yourself mentally and physically. While it is important to stay informed on the spread of the virus, hearing nonstop information about this pandemic can make it impossible to relax. To keep yourself healthy and sane, it is important that you don’t overwhelm yourself.
Restlessness, anxiety, agitation, and depression are completely normal human responses to our situation. Most people don’t normally live isolated lives, so it’s completely natural to crave physical interaction or to feel anxious. Try not to shame yourself for feeling these things and remember that isolation and social distancing is what’s keeping ourselves and our community safe.
Even if it takes a while, this isolation is temporary, and it will eventually end. While you wait, you can use this time to plan your fertility journey and focus on staying healthy.
Maintain your health
If you or your partner are currently undergoing fertility treatments, or plan to soon, maintaining your health will ensure that you are ready to start or resume your treatment once it is safe to continue.
First, find a stress management method that works for you, whether that’s exercise, crafting, reading, or picking up a new hobby. Stress can take a huge toll on your body, both physically and mentally, and can make you more susceptible to sickness. Even though times are rough, it’s still possible to find your own space to relax.
Here’s some suggestions of stress management techniques to get you started:
- Start a hobby project
- Deep clean your house
- Meditate first thing in the morning
- Start a bullet journal
- Practice yoga three times a week
- Play a video game with an immersive storyline
- Perfect your favorite family recipe
- Decorate your nursery
Now is also the perfect time to take care of your physical health, too. Are you taking time to provide your body with what it needs? This might not only help you achieve one of your goals, but it will also help make sure you are physically ready for fertility treatments or pregnancy.
If you don’t already have your ducks in a row, you can use this time to educate yourself about insurance, financing options, other procedures, and anything else you might be missing for your future fertility. If you can, take advantage of telehealth options offered by your clinic to create a 6-month treatment plan with your doctor. The more prepared you are at the end of isolation, the closer you are to having the family you dream of, even if all you can take is little steps right now. Don’t lose sight of your vision, and don’t lose hope.
If you have any questions or concerns about your treatment or the treatment process, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor!