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Coping with Stress of COVID-19 & Fertility Treatment Delays

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By: Dr. Sony Sierra, MD, FRCSC, REI, Deputy Medical Director and Partner

Infertility is a difficult medical issue and part of the difficulty is the sense of not being in control. It’s a common emotion to feel helpless, despite doing everything right, and now, on top of that baseline emotion, we have to contend with the threat and reality of COVID-19. Worry about trying to conceive now comes with worries about being safe and healthy and keeping loved ones safe and healthy, and now also the worry and anxiety of long-awaited treatment cycles being cancelled and delayed. That’s a lot to deal with, we know, but you are not alone through this. We are right here with you and would like to suggest some other things to do to deal with the stress of COVID 19 and fertility treatment delays:

  • We encourage you to book an appointment with your doctor for a telephone or OTN consult to discuss treatment protocols for future cycles or to review the next steps, including testing that may be appropriate when treatment resumes.
  • You can also reach out to your nurse or one of our counsellors if you need someone to talk to. We offer a range of free, online support groups led by one of our counsellors, including one that deals specifically with the impact of COVID 19 on treatment.
  • All of us have quite a bit of time on our hands now that we are home. Try to take this opportunity to optimize health and wellness as much as possible: taking the time to eat well, get enough sleep and exercise, and taking the right supplements, all of which can make a big difference to fertility and overall health.
  • Our affiliated naturopaths are offering free, 15-minute virtual consults to explain the range of interventions they offer, including a unique 100-day preconception program that helps you get healthier to prepare for conception.
  • If you’re worried about losing your funded cycle, we want you to know that if you had an interruption of treatment during a funded cycle, you will still have that funded cycle waiting for you when you return to treatment. (The only charge is the medication that was used.)
  • If you had a paid cycle that was cancelled as a result of the COVID 19 clinic closure, you will not be charged for that cycle. (You will only be charged for the medication that was used.)
  • TRIO’s medical team meets twice a week before patient consults to plan the next steps and prepare for our reopening, which we will do as soon as it’s safe to do so for our patients and staff.

Additional Tips During Fertility Treatment Delays

In addition, here are some things I’ve been finding helpful while I’ve been social distancing by staying home:

  • There are lots of amazing apps and online programs available to help you keep fit, as well as meditation podcasts and apps to help you relax and sleep.
  • Unless you are in quarantine, get outside … we are lucky we are into spring and our days are getting longer. Even though we are staying home, we can still go out and get fresh air while maintaining a safe distance from our neighbours and others, and we can try to get as much natural Vitamin D as we can.
  • Get to that book you’ve had on your bedside table or downloaded and just never had the time to start…or finish. Reading for me has always been the best relaxation. I’ve got American Dirt by Jeanine Cumminson the go, and next up will be Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
  • Learn a new skill… for me, it’s been cooking! Everyone who knows me knows I am not the best cook, actually quite the opposite!!  But now for the first time in my history, I’m trying!! So many amazing websites, apps and insta-stories for recipes even the most basic of cooks can master. Banana bread seems to be the most popular starter option.
  • Listen to podcasts… so many options out there: intriguing stories, drama, documentaries and inspiration! My favourite is Jay Shetty’s On Purpose and always for a good laugh: Trevor Noah!
  • Lastly, I’ve been loving my Houseparty app! It’s a great way to still be social with friends and family as we stay home. You can have dinner, drinks or play a good game of trivia with friends that are in different homes and cities.  We are humans and it’s so important for us to stay connected. We are lucky there are so many options available to help us get through all of these tough days!

Stay home, stay safe and stay well.