A second wave of Covid-19 was inevitable, but yet the announcement of, first the tier system, and then another full-scale lockdown in the UK, as well as wide-scale restrictions globally, was heart-breaking for everyone affected. Though necessary and not unexpected, it has been a most unwelcome turn of events particularly for those who are trying to conceive with fertility treatment, or are suffering loss and very much need to have loved ones around for support.
Despite the administration of several vaccines being rolled out in many countries, it’s still a waiting game and, as we embark on 2021, there are mixed emotions within the fertility community.
I founded The Ribbon Box in 2019, following our own problematic route to parenthood. Due to my husband’s genetic condition, Klinefelter Syndrome (affecting approximately 1 in 660 men), he underwent a difficult sperm retrieval operation in the States which was sadly unsuccessful and so, there in New York, we embarked on IVF with donor sperm. After a failed fresh transfer from our first round of IVF, we were blessed with the birth of our eldest daughter from a frozen transfer. Another round of IVF resulted in the birth of our twins 18 months later, and we are extremely grateful for medical science and the skill of our fertility team.
The Ribbon Box is a fertility platform which reaches thousands of people around the world who are at different stages of their fertility journeys and are looking for community support, virtual events and expert content and resources. I feel and see the anguish and pain people are going through on a daily basis, so desperately wanting to hold their baby in their arms. I personally can’t imagine the added stress of going through fertility treatment during this uncertain era.
Throughout 2020, we discussed and voiced the similarities between the emotions experienced during a fertility struggle and those felt by so many during Covid 19 lockdown. Feelings and thoughts like: ‘Life is on hold’; ‘Uncertainty with no end date in sight’; ’Isolation’; ’Loss of time’; ‘Lack of purpose’.
We recently ran a survey of 108 people, where we asked how Covid has impacted people's fertility journeys mentally, physically and financially. A staggering 100% said they had been mentally affected and 37% said they feel that paused or delayed treatment could have a long-term physical impact on their treatment outcome. Here are some of their responses:
“Stressed, Stuck and Missing Out”
A resounding response showed that 63% of people are now putting themselves under financial stress to go privately, to speed up treatment.
When you’re considering IVF options, it’s normal to feel as though your life is on hold and it is hard to move forward or plan your future. That feeling for many people has only been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Many respondents expressed this, stating they felt ‘stuck’ or that ‘life is at a standstill, whilst time and age move on’.
“Hopeless, Fed-up and Deflated” at the thought of further lockdowns
The global pandemic has only reinforced painful, draining and negative emotions. ‘Seeing pregnancy announcements on social media is bitter-sweet,' said one person. 'You are happy for them but it’s impossible not to feel jealous and heartbroken that it hasn’t yet happened to you’.
“No Support and Isolation”
During the first lockdown of 2020, when fertility clinics had to close their doors, many faced disrupted and delayed fertility treatment. There was uncertainty as to when treatments would resume, how waiting lists and funding (in the UK) would be affected or how patients would be prioritised once fertility clinics reopened. Over 60% said that clinics couldn’t answer the question about when treatment would be resumed.
“Hopeful and Determined”
Although the majority of our responses were expressions of concern and anxiety regarding the ongoing likelihood of tight restrictions closing down clinics again, as well as the financial stress of job insecurity and pressure to go privately because of wait times, a number of people were still ‘hopeful’ and ‘determined’ about trying to conceive at the start of a new year.
We want to encourage that positivity and hope, which is why we are taking things a step further this year, with our brand new initiative, #RestartTheJourney. We're offering eight couples or eight solo parents the chance to receive one free round of IVF or donor sperm. We've teamed up with seven fertility clinics across the UK, Europe and America - who are each giving one of our readers one free round of IVF treatment - and one international sperm bank, who will offer one reader the chance to receive donor sperm for fertility treatment.
We want to encourage that positivity and hope, which is why we are taking things a step further this year, with our brand new initiative, #RestartTheJourney. We're offering eight couples or eight solo parents the chance to receive one free round of IVF or donor sperm. We've teamed up with seven fertility clinics across the UK, Europe and America - who are each giving one of our readers one free round of IVF treatment - and one international sperm bank, who will offer one reader the chance to receive donor sperm for fertility treatment. We'll also be hosting expert interviews throughout the 8-week campaign on our Instagram. For more details and to apply before the deadline of 10th March 2021 click here.