Families forced to put IVF treatments on hold during coronavirus outbreak

HOUSTON – Many families have been forced to postpone IVF treatments and their dreams of having a baby due to the coronavirus pandemic. Fertility treatments are considered non-essential procedures and so they have been stopped, per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

After a year of fertility treatments and the hope of egg implantation soon, Kristy and Brandon Callaway’s plans are now on hold.

“I have a nursery in my house that is already set up,” said Kristy Callaway. “There is no baby to put in it.”

IVF procedures

“We have two frozen embryos,” Kristy explained. “I received all the meds, I have all the injections it takes. It takes about a month to prepare your body for an embryo transfer. To be so excited — like we are starting these injections we are finally moving forward — and then no we are not. This all of a sudden just stopped.”

Just one day before she was set to start the next phase of the fertility process, she got the call from her doctor.

"She said that because of coronavirus all cycles, all procedures were on hold,” explains Kristy. “At the time it was on hold for a month. Now that the social distancing measures have been extended for a month, that is going to be extended for another month. We are just not sure how long now.”

It’s just the latest setback for Kristy and other families who are already struggling with growing their family.

“We face so many difficulties and that’s not unique to us. I think every family who goes to these faces difficulties and roadblocks,” she said.

IVF struggle and growing stress

Psychologists say fertility concerns are among some of the most common worries during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I have a lot of people today that are really upset with how their cycles being canceled in all of this and how is this going to play out,” said Dr. Kristen Chambliss. “All of the anxiety is just so widespread.”

For now, Kristy and Brandon will wait.

“I keep thinking about these two frozen embryos,” Kristy said. “I pray for them every day. I’m scared. I’m scared about how long it’s going to take for us to be able to move forward. I’m angry at the situation. I think about how close we were. This was finally going to be happening and then it’s not and we don’t know when it is. It’s beyond frustrating and it’s sad.”

Besides the emotional toll, IVF treatments can be very expensive. Some families pay $15,000 for each round of treatments. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine said it will review the guidelines every few weeks and make decisions about when they might start back up IVF treatments. Many other elective types of procedures are also on hold during this time.