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COVID-19

Europe and Canada: Planning for fertility care during uncertain times 

By
Alex Zarka, Senior Manager of Global Operations
Europe and Canada: Planning for fertility care during uncertain times 
May 4, 2020
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Our Coronavirus Resource Center is available for anyone who has questions about how efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 are impacting the pursuit of parenthood. It is constantly being updated with answers to your questions, links to resources, and the latest guidance from global experts.

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The global pandemic has made many individuals and couples question how the coronavirus (COVID-19) will affect their plans of undergoing fertility care. Planning for fertility care is already a complicated process — from choosing a clinic, exploring treatment options, assessing finances, and more. And with the outbreak of COVID-19, many fertility clinics throughout Europe and Canada halted or postponed treatments, making an already difficult process even more complicated. Throughout this challenging time, fertility clinics around the world have continued to support their patients, and, now, some clinics within Europe and Canada are beginning to resume treatments. Whether clinics in your area have halted treatment, are planning to reopen, or have already resumed care, there are resources available to you and actions you can take today.


Communicate with your clinic

If you’re just getting started on your pursuit of parenthood, now is a great time to start talking to clinics to identify which may be the right partner for your journey. And some of these centers now offer initial consultations over the internet. Take this time to ask questions about what services the clinic offers and how they’ll communicate with you over the coming weeks and months. While some clinics, for example, might be offering video consultations, others are likely still reachable over the phone.

For many who were already receiving fertility treatments, clinics have often been communicating with their patients and have been providing them with specific instructions as to what they can be doing for their treatment cycles at the moment. 


Prepare for when fertility clinics reopen

There are some countries within Europe that are beginning to relax their quarantine measures. Fertility centers in these countries are preparing to resume some treatments and centers may also be welcoming new patients. 

  • Denmark — Beginning April 16, many clinics in Denmark have reopened and are encouraging new and existing patients to call to schedule appointments. 
  • Switzerland — Based on the direction of the Swiss Federal Council, The Swiss Society for Reproductive Medicine (SGRM) re-initiated treatments on April 27. 
  • Netherlands — In the Netherlands, some public centers have set up online waiting lists for patients interested in receiving care when they reopen, and they are using this tool to assess and prepare for the demand. On April 28th, some clinics have re-initiated certain services such as IUI.
  • United Kingdom — On May 1, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) released an update stating that they aim to allow patients to resume safe treatment beginning mid-late May.
  • Ireland — Starting May 4, clinics in Ireland began re-initiating treatment.

If you are located in an area where clinics are currently reopening or plan to reopen within the coming weeks and months, now is a good time to contact a clinic to develop a plan. If you are planning on visiting a clinic, you can expect some additional safety measures when you arrive, such as temperature screenings, modified waiting rooms to accommodate physical distancing, personal protective equipment, and/or a limited number of accompanying visitors. For more updates on the latest COVID-19 information in your area, you can also visit Carrot’s blog on Coronavirus and fertility treatments: What you need to know


Build and utilize your support network

Going through fertility treatment or a gestational carrier experience can feel isolating and stressful. That’s why it’s critical to have support throughout the journey. And that’s especially true during times of uncertainty. For those going through fertility treatment, a partner, sibling, or parent may be a good start, but it’s also wise to build up your support network outside of your immediate family — after all, since fertility care can put stress on relationships, you’ll likely find it helpful to talk to others who have experienced the same thing. And for those who

are navigating the process solo, having a strong network can give you another resource aside from your clinic or agency for support. Often, your fertility clinic is a great starting point for building a network. 

Outside of your clinic, the British Fertility Counseling Association (BICA) and the Canadian Fertility & Andrology Society (CFAS) both provide great resources and tips on how people can take care of their mental and physical health during the coronavirus pandemic. Freya, a patient-focused infertility association in the Netherlands, is offering online workshops to help patients manage their emotions throughout the fertility process. You can also find publically available groups through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social networks. Friends and family can also be a great resource — if someone has shared their family-forming experience with you previously, see if they can recommend any resources for connecting with others who understand your experience.


Check in on your financial health

While employers are starting to offer fertility and family building benefits, the costs associated with pursuing parenthood can still add up quite quickly. Some European financial institutions, such as HSBC UK are actively working to help their customers, providing helpful webinars as well as financial guidance and support. Additionally, the European Central Bank is calling for the central banks of each EU member state to provide specialized support for their customers during COVID-19, such as this online information hub for consumers, SMEs, and regulated firms from the Central Bank of Ireland


Focus on healthy habits

Since diet and exercise habits can impact the success rates of fertility treatments, many people try to get into healthier habits before getting started with fertility care. Healthy habits can include  boosting your daily intake of nutrient-dense superfoods and talking to your physician about supplements that may be added to your daily routine to promote good health (and potentially benefit fertility, as well). 

A number of organizations are providing strategies for self-care and staying healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, through the Fertility Network UK, you can find many helpful tips, including this fertility patient self-care video that discusses the importance of implementing healthy lifestyle practices such as physical exercise, eating healthy, and keeping a journal to manage stress. You may also find these tips from the Netherlands fertility organization Freya and the Canadian Fertility & Andrology Society helpful, as well. 

We’re here to help

While it’s completely normal to feel frustrated with delays in treatment and unclear timelines, we hope these steps can help you focus on the journey ahead. We’ll continue updating our Coronavirus and Fertility Resource Center to help keep you informed of any changes. And, as always, our Carrot Care Team is here to help — if you have any questions, reach out anytime.


Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Carrot Fertility makes no representations or warranties and expressly disclaims any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app.

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