Fertility treatments halted, delayed during COVID-19

Posted at 1:12 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 20:52:57-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Andrea McMurray has been trying for years to start a family, which was why in January of last year- she and her husband turned to in vitro fertilization (IVF) after getting pregnant became a challenge.

McMurray was able to fertilize five eggs through the process. The first two transfers didn't work. Then she was placed on a medication to help out with the next.

After that second try, doctors performed a biopsy and determined she would need an additional 24 hours of medication before trying another transfer.

"It was like, yay, we probably have this answer of why my body is not holding on to these babies," said McMurray. Hopeful and optimistic, she had a third transfer, until she got a call saying her fertility clinic would be closing its doors because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I was just crushed at that point," said McMurray, "the medication really affects you- physically and emotionally." Overcome with those emotions, McMurray said she broke down over learning she would need to wait even longer to try and start her family.

McMurray works in healthcare herself, so she knows all too well all of the impacts with COVID-19. "I try to look at as a positive because what if we did go through with the transfer and what if someone in that room was sick and wasn't showing symptoms?"

With the stay at home order, most fertility clinics aren't conducting treatments. Instead, they're only seeing patients under a time-sensitive circumstance. For example, patients that may need to get something done ahead of chemotherapy treatments.

"Our practice has drastically changed," Dr. Shona Murray with University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine.

Murray says she's following guidelines from the Governor and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Under the rules, she's seeing patients over Telehealth services for those who are looking for information on fertility treatments.

"I'm seeing as many new patients right now as I would typically, the big difference is we're not doing treatments right now," Murray said.

The delayed impact of starting a family for patients can be heartbreaking, "it's really devastating because often before people get in our door they've been trying for years," said Murray.