BENGALURU: The first and second wave of COVID-19 saw people staying home and couples putting their pregnancies on hold over fears of contracting the virus if they step out. However, with talk of a third wave and people realising that COVID-19 is here to stay, doctors are witnessing an increase in couples opting for IVF (In vitro fertilization) treatment.
"IVF treatment is a long-drawn process that requires a lot of dedication, multiple visits to the fertility clinic, involving scans, medications, and injections, all of which people now have time for, with work from home. There is lesser stress as people are not struggling to juggle work from the office and treatment. Initially, fearing COVID-19, they put their conception plans on hold but now they know they can't wait for long to conceive naturally," said Dr Lavanya Kiran, senior consultant, OBG, fertility specialist, robotic surgeon, IVF Unit- Incharge, Narayana Health City.
With age, the quality of the oocytes (egg) and sperm go down, chances of conception reduce, the mother may risk contracting diabetes and hypertension and there is an increased chance of the child being born with Down syndrome. Doctors have also noticed another trend where with lowered stress levels, by staying away from the office and long hours in traffic, many couples who otherwise had unexplained infertility were able to conceive naturally.
It is the backlog of couples who had put their IVF treatment cycles on hold during the initial lockdown and pandemic, which is now being seen as an increase in them seeking fertility treatment, said Dr Chandana Narayana, consultant gynecologist and fertility expert, Motherhood Hospitals.
"We are seeing more IVF cycles now compared to the last few months. There has been a change in the mindset and people's fears have gone down. We also know now from enough information and data that there is no negative effect of COVID-19 vaccination on fertility, be it through IVF or natural means. It is safe and can be done simultaneously," Dr Chandana said.
She said that infertility is on the rise due to lifestyle changes such as delayed marriage, delayed age of pregnancy as people are occupied with career and other commitments, obesity, PCOD, endometriosis, etc.
Dr Mahesh Koregol, fertility consultant, Nova IVF Fertility, observed that the pandemic and lockdown brought about more loneliness, the need to have a personal life and staying out of the rat race, resulting in many couples wanting to have a baby.
"We have seen a 20 percent increase, post the first and second surge in COVID-19 cases, of people seeking IVF treatment. Apart from this, with no time lost to Bengaluru traffic, pollution tiredness, more time for intimacy and better quality of life, many even conceived naturally during the lockdown. Hospitals have also learned how to ensure social distancing, cleanliness, use of masks and sanitizers when people come to the fertility clinic and there is no crowding," Dr Mahesh said.
Nova IVF Fertility Clinic witnessed over 30,000 new couples apart from the already existing ones who have come forth for fertility assessment and IVF treatments. Over 100 couples who tested COVID positive resumed their treatment post recovery and 40 of these have already begun their journey of conception after successful fertility treatment.