Dealing with fertility treatment and Covid-19
Considering fertility treatment or being in the midst of treatment can be stressful at the best of times. With the restrictions and daily changes brought about by Covid-19, the stress and anxiety is even greater.
The experts at Fertility SA have compiled a list of strategies to help you cope with the double uncertainty of Covid-19 and fertility treatment.
1. Don’t consume too much media
Staying informed is great, but being glued to the TV or social media and getting caught up in too much bad news isn’t good for anyone’s mental health. Select a small number of credible and trusted outlets and try setting some limits, especially in relation to Covid-19 news. Seek out some good stories as well to balance out the hardship.
2. Stick to a routine
Schedules are great – they keep us grounded and give structure to our daily lives. With many of us working from home and having our lives restricted, our routines have drastically changed. But while the Thursday night gym session or Friday nigh book club might have to wait a little longer, there are ways to create new routines. Simple things like waking at the same time every day, getting ready like you’re going to work, having dinner at the same time. If you used to catch up once a month for dinner with friends, keep doing it, even if it’s over Zoom!
3. Phone a friend
The hardest part of the Covid-19 pandemic has been staying away from our family and friends. Going through fertility treatment also can be a lonely and isolating experience, so stay connected to trusted family and friends however you can. Talking to someone who cares is a great way to reduce anxiety, depression and loneliness. Give them a call, send a text, grab a coffee over video chat, or even go for a walk. Everyone will communicate their feelings about their fertility journey differently, but try not to become further isolated and share your experiences with someone.
4. Just breathe
Breathing and relaxation techniques are long proven methods for combatting anxiety. They are quick, free and work right in the moment. There are hundreds of free apps available to download to help with breathing, calming and meditating. Try making time at least once a day for this relaxation, as the more you practice, the better you will get at being able to calm your body and mind.
5. It’s ok to say no
This can be a hard one but it is perfectly fine to say no. To say no to extra work shifts, to a Zoom wine catch up, to the pressure of starting a new hobby in iso-life, to donating money for your friend’s charity, to offers of help you don’t want or need. It could be anything, but the main point is that only you know what you need right now and now is a time to be looking after yourself first. Choose what will make you feel good, versus doing things that may add to your emotional burden, and don’t overextend.
6. Look after your body
If you’ve been trying to have a baby, the chances are you’re already limiting caffeine and alcohol and trying to eat well and exercise. And while we’re bombarded with images of fit types working out from home, there’s even more images of home baking and pasta! Yes, Covid-comfort food is a real thing and it’s a battle for most of us. Try to maintain a balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables. Also take the time to do some exercise you enjoy, maybe a work out or some yoga or just a half hour walk every day.
7. Get a good night’s sleep
Stress and sleep are not good friends and getting a good night’s sleep is super important for a healthy body and calm mind. Try and keep caffeine to a minimum in the afternoon and evening, keep a good routine before you go to bed, try the breathing techniques outlined earlier and make sure your phone and devices are not in your bedroom. Make sure your bedroom is a comfy temperature, nice and dark and a soothing place to be.
8. Have balanced thoughts
This is not about being positive – no-one is positive all of the time. This is about having a balanced perspective and understanding your thoughts. Feeling sad or negative is normal, but having ongoing negative thoughts is not. You may also be dealing with changes to your fertility treatment or uncertainty about the treatment as a result of Covid-19, so it’s normal to feel worried and powerless. Learn to catch yourself when your thoughts are stuck in the negative. Try to be realistic and balanced in your appraisal of the situation and of course reach out for help if you need.
9. Do something that makes you happy
In stressful times like this, it can feel natural to be angry at the world, yourself, and/or your body. Sometimes we stop doing everything when we’re stressed, even the things we enjoy and which make us happy. It’s important to do things that bring joy or feel good. If it helps make a list to remind you. It might be cooking a meal, doing some gardening, watching a show you love, going for a jog, painting your nails – it doesn’t matter what it is – just make sure you are taking care of you and finding some light in life.
10. Know When to Ask for Help
We know that many of you may be experiencing increased levels of distress during this time. It is certainly normal to feel concerned and out of control with the combination of your fertility journey and the Covid-19 situation. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to someone you don’t know, or you may need to reach out for professional help. If you’re more isolated than you need to be, feeling down for longer periods of time, having intrusive thoughts or having difficulty with your partner or colleagues, it’s best to get help. You can speak to your GP or the Fertility SA doctor about finding the right support for you.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: 8 April 2020
We would like to acknowledge the very difficult times we are all enduring. We understand the personal impact this situation has for patients undergoing a fertility journey. For many of you time is of the essence and we appreciate the additional pressure this situation can have on your mental wellbeing and capacity to cope.
Our team is here to provide you with the support to continue along the fertility path. We encourage you to focus on those elements of your wellbeing that you can control, practise social distancing, maintain your exercise regime, practise good hygiene and most importantly take care of your emotional wellbeing by remaining socially connected to family and friends.
Be reassured we are here to support you and remain open and are continuing to provide the following treatments:
- Consultations with our specialists
- FET / FOT cycles
Our clinic continues to be open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays and we will be operating over the Easter break.
On Good Friday and Easter Monday our clinic at King William Street will be open from 7am to 9am for blood tests. For phone enquiries, please call (08) 8100 2900 between 9am and 2pm.
Stay safe and enjoy the long weekend.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: 31 March 2020
The health and safety of our patients and staff is always the top priority for Fertility SA.
We understand the current situation in regards to COVID-19 is very stressful to our patients who are either in active treatment or looking to start treatment.
We have provided some information below based on what services we are currently able to offer and the current best practice medical advice.
The situation is changing rapidly, so we will continue to provide regular updates to our patients on the website and through our Facebook and Instagram channels. Our nursing team has also been contacting patients directly, but of course if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call us on 8100 2900.
Q: Is it safe to conceive during this time in light of the Coronavirus?
We believe the best source of information comes from the Fertility Society of Australia. While they acknowledge there is little information about the impact of COVID-19 on pregnancy so far and what is available should be interpreted with caution, they also say the number of pregnant women who have contracted COVID-19 and have subsequently delivered is small and the reassuring results so far, include no evidence of mother-to-baby transmission during pregnancy.
More information from the Fertility Society of Australia can be found here.
Q: Is it safe to be pregnant during a Coronavirus pandemic?
We believe the best source of information comes from the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. They say that at this time pregnant women do not appear to be more severely unwell if they develop COVID-19 than the general population. It is expected the large majority of pregnant women will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms.
For women who are trying to conceive, or who are in early pregnancy, there is no evidence to suggest an increased risk of miscarriage with COVID-19. There is also no evidence that the virus will cause abnormalities in your baby.
More information from the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists can be found here.
Q: What happens if I am in the middle of treatment?
For all those patients currently undergoing treatment you will be unaffected by the restrictions to access a private hospital. Our nursing team will be in regular contact and continue to manage your cycle. For those patients in the Donor program your treatment is also able to continue, our donor team will keep in contact and are ready to answer all questions.
Q: What happens to patients who were planning to start IVF soon?
Unfortunately while the elective surgery restrictions are in place, we are unable to start new rounds of IVF for patients. The focus is to follow current guidelines regarding minimising exposure to the coronavirus and maintaining your mental health during this challenging time.
As soon as this situation changes we will offer IVF treatment again.
Q: Will you still offer frozen embryo transfers?
For any of our patients with frozen embryos, we are able to continue this treatment.
Q: I have a GP referral, can I still make an appointment as a new patient?
Yes, we are still accepting new patients. Your first consultation will be over a video call with one of our fertility specialists, where they will talk to you about your circumstances and medical history. They will explain to you as part of the consultation the next steps and be clear if there are any treatments which may be delayed as a result of the COVID-19 regulations.
Q: Will my next appointment be a phone or video consult?
Yes, All appointments with doctors will be moved to phone or video consults, as needed. If you have a scheduled appointment with a Fertility SA doctor, we will be in touch to let you know of the change. Your appointment day and time is unlikely to change.
Q: What drugs are safe to take if I get a fever due to COVID-19?
Paracetamol (Panadol) is entirely safe in pregnancy and does not harm the body’s ability to fight COVID-19. You should avoid ibuprofen as there are reports out of Europe that this can limit your ability to fight COVID-19.
Q: Can the Coronavirus effect my sperm or egg quality?
We know that a high fever, common with COVID-19 infections, can have a negative impact on sperm quality. As such it is important that men who get a fever take paracetamol to minimise any increase in their body temperature. Again, please let us know if you are feeling unwell in any way before any appointments or treatments and we will advise on the best way forward for your treatment plan.
Q: Is the use of donor sperm and eggs still considered safe?
Our donor program is ongoing and those patients undergoing treatment are able to continue, our donor team will maintain communication and are available to answer all questions.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: 19 March 2020
We take the health and wellbeing of our patients and staff seriously and have been closely monitoring official advice regarding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and adopting best practice guidelines at our clinic and laboratory. St Andrews Hospital where many of our procedures are carried out has also implemented the recommended guidelines.
In addition to advice from the Australian Department of Health (https://www.health.gov.au/) and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RANZCOG https://ranzcog.edu.au/), we would like to share further information about how we are operating and the precautionary measures we have in place.
We are continuing to operate and provide fertility services
While we are practicing social distancing and have changed some of our interactions, which are all clearly communicated in our offices, we are continuing to offer fertility services and treatments for all our patients.
All patients currently receiving treatment can be reassured that all scheduled appointments and procedures are going ahead as scheduled.
We are accepting new patients as usual, and the current advice from RANZCOG is that anyone wanting to get pregnant need not delay these plans as a result of the Coronavirus.
All of our medical specialists are continuing to consult, and we have extremely robust continuity plans in place for our laboratory. We have also been in daily contact with St Andrews Hospital who are continuing to provide a full range of services.
Additional hygiene practices and questions
At our King William Street consulting rooms we have made some changes that are clearly sign-posted. We will ask you to use hand sanitiser on arrival and we have increased the frequency and level of cleaning.
We will also ask you some screening questions when you visit our consulting rooms to help ensure we manage any possible exposure to Coronavirus (COVID-19) effectively. We appreciate your patience and understanding during this time.
Let us know
We ask you to call us in advance of an appointment if you or someone attending an appointment with you has:
- Any symptoms such as fever, headache, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath
- Have travelled internationally in the past 14 days
- Have had close contact with someone diagnosed with or suspected of having Coronavirus within the last 14 days
We will continue to update our Facebook and Instagram account and website regularly.
If you have any concerns or questions at all, please do not hesitate to call the team on 8100 2900