TIRUCHY: Priya and Santosh (names changed) had been visiting the gynecologist for a year. After trying out other infertility treatments, the doctor had told them that IVF was their only option, in February this year. Before they could meet the doctor for their next appointment in March, the lockdown was imposed, and the couple had push their plans to have a baby for the next year. While the unplanned pregnancies are on the rise, assisted reproductive treatments have been put on hold for now.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an assisted reproductive treatment, where the woman's egg and man's sperm are fertilized in a dish. It is complex, expensive and a time-consuming procedure which requires several visits to the hospital. While the hospitals have been conducting deliveries, several gynecologists in Tiruchy have not started IVF treatment. "One of the reasons is that the IVF is a very expensive treatment and cannot be stopped halfway through treatment. We don't know how the virus is affecting mothers and babies. So it is better to postpone the treatment for now," said Dr Deepa Mukhundhan, Secretary, Tiruchy Obstetric and Gynaecologist Society.
Most of the doctors are wary that if a lady is infected with the coronavirus in between the IVF treatment, they would have to stop the treatment.
Even other fertility procedures like IUI (Intrauterine insemination) are not being done currently.
"The All India society of assisted reproduction has said that a Covid test has to be conducted before performing IUI treatments. This will increase the cost of the treatment, and convincing everyone to come to the hospital multiple times is a big task. We are counselling patients and asking them to wait for a few months," said Dr S Chitra, MD BDO, Consultant, Lalitha Nursing Home.Other than IVF and IUI, doctors have started giving regular oral fertility medications.
"We are giving regular treatments, not going for advanced. We don't have data to know how it will affect pregnant women and their babies. It's a risk. IF the women have diabetes or hypertension, it will affect them more. We are asking our patients to wait for a few more months," said Dr Charmila Ayyavoo, Director of Aditi Hospital, Tiruchy.
Some doctors say that they might consider starting IVF treatments in the next month or so. For patients who have a few eggs left, or whose chances of conceiving may reduce if the procedure is delayed, doctors are planning to start the treatments.
"If the patients are young and can postpone the treatment, we are encouraging them to do so. For older patients who cannot afford to wait, we will do the treatments. For people who require quick treatment, in such emergencies, we will be starting now," added Dr Deepa.
Regular ante-natal checkups and deliveries are being handled.