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March 18: The Most Impactful Day Yet for Fertility Patients

By Dr. Tom Hannam MD FRCSC REI

Yesterday morning Ontario announced a state of emergency. Later that day, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) suggested all fertility treatments be stopped, while the Canadian Fertility & Andrology Society has a more nuanced opinion. Today we expect to hear of many more clinic service closures. All of this is important, as all of this is relevant to your choices in growing a family.

Declaring a state of emergency allows the province to, among other things, properly emphasize social distancing in our cities.

Yesterday at our clinic, our staff are now communicating with each other across rooms by zoom and phone, patients are asked to leave quickly (to keep numbers down), and supportive partners are, for the most part, asked not to come at all.

I took a video but am not posting; just empty hallways and more empty hallways.

It is, to be honest, a lonely experience… and we are just at the beginning of what is likely to be a prolonged new normal.

ASRM and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) are the societies that set American guidelines for our field. Yesterday they suggested fertility clinics allow for no more testing, no more IUIs, no more retrievals, and no more embryo transfers.

All fertility treatments are to be put on hold indefinitely. Last night I was on the phone endlessly with very upset fertility doctors, wondering how they can now care for their patients. After the current cycles are finished, according to these guidelines, they can’t.

I understand how upsetting these words are to read.

Canadian guidelines released yesterday are in fact supportive of care, when done well. “Done well” emphasizes embryo cryopreservation, as I have been saying in this blog. [Edit 28March: later this day, March 18, the CFAS updated their position to reflect the changing landscape. Currently the CFAS recommends nearly no fertility procedures with the next update expected on or about April 1]


 

About the Author

Dr. Tom Hannam
The founder of the Hannam Fertility Centre, Dr. Hannam has sat on the board of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society, and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Canada, and the European Society for Human Reproduction and Endocrinology.

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