COVID-19 delays in treatment may prompt risk taking

60% of women worry that time is running out

Optimum, a public polling organisation, has recently conducted a study of UK women undergoing fertility treatment. They found that three in five women feel they have missed out as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The delay in fertility treatment is causing around half of these women to consider riskier treatment options. This is in spite of knowing about the potential problems of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. The condition can lead to kidney failure, blood clots and miscarriage.

Beware of multiple cycles at a reduced rate

This has urged campaigners to highlight the risks to fertility patients considering fertility services overseas. Patients are advised to be wary of any IVF clinics who offer multiple cycles of IVF treatment for a reduced price. This is because there could be a financial incentive for the clinics to over-medicate in the first cycle. This avoids spending money on later cycles.

Kate Davies, Fertility Nurse Consultant said, “The role of the health professional is crucial in keeping fertility patients safe. It’s one of the most emotionally charged areas of our health. It’s no surprise that after a year of delays some women are starting to feel that the clock is ticking. With patients in a vulnerable position, we are worried that the financial incentive clinics will face could ultimately influence clinicians’ medical decisions.”

Backlog of anxious patients

Kate continued, “This impacts patient safety, especially as they face a backlog of anxious patients combined with the pressure of commercial interest.”

The Optimum researchers surveyed 533 women who are considering, currently going through, or who previously went through fertility treatment. In addition to the attitudes to risk taking, the survey revealed that:

  • 20% of women who had fertility treatment say they made themselves ill with what they forced their body to endure
  • 70% said they suffered potential symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) such as flashbacks, nightmares and insomnia.

Natalie Silverman, an ambassador for SAFE campaign

SAFE is a coalition of organisations and health professionals who have concerns about fertility treatment in the UK, are also very concerned.

Don’t compromise your mental and physical health

Natalie Silverman said, “Going through fertility treatment can be one of the most stressful times in life. I know from personal experience that at times you can feel like you would do anything to get pregnant, even if deep down you know you may be compromising your mental and physical health. That’s why checks and balances in the sector are so important. Patients should be able to rely on fertility clinics acting in their best interests, even if that means questioning and seeking guidance on a more aggressive course of treatment.”

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