The Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on fertility treatment around the world. In the UK, NHS hospitals stopped offering any non-urgent treatment between March and May last year. Even when fertility treatment did become available again services were vastly reduced to allow for social distancing.
Of course, patient safety is paramount, and particularly in hospitals that are treating a lot of Covid patients. But many couples who had hoped to conceiving a baby were denied the opportunity to give it their best shot.
Over 40s disproportionately affected
As any woman who has had problems conceiving will be only too aware, female fertility begins to drop off from 40 onwards.
So it seems particularly unfair that women over the age of 40 have been worst affected by the drop in fertility treatment over the past year. In fact, researchers from the University of Aberdeen have released the results of a study they conducted into this issue. They are now urging providers to prioritise the over-40s once normal fertility services resume.
The study looked at over 10,000 women who have undergone IVF in the past, and the impact of a delay in treatment. While the delay affected every age group, the older the woman was, the greater the likely impact of the delay.
The biggest impact was on women aged 40+, who were found to experience an 11.8% reduction in live births after a delay of six months. There was a 22.4% reduction if the delay went on for a year.
How can women improve their chances?
Whilst the fact that older women suffer more from the delay does seem unfair, it also stands to reason. If your fertility decreases as you get older, any delay in treatment is going to result in your fertility having reduced further once treatment happens.
Unfortunately, the only real solution is to seek treatment sooner. The researchers have made an impassioned plea to the NHS to prioritise older women when normal service is resumed.
Here at The Mayfair GP, we can offer referrals to private fertility services, who are able to offer treatment at this time.
We understand that considering private fertility treatment can be daunting, particularly in terms of the costs involved. So our doctors are on hand to talk through all the options with you, including lifestyle choices. We can help advise on the best way forward in order to maximise your chances of conceiving a baby. For more information, please contact us.