Vancouver fertility clinic sees influx of egg freezing due to COVID-19 pandemic

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — It seems the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many couples and single women to rethink how and when they plan to have children.

Dr. Niamh Tallon from the Olive Fertility Centre in Vancouver says they’ve recorded some major spikes when it comes to those wanting to freeze their eggs.

For eight weeks, the clinic closed its doors to patients seeking active treatments because of COVID-19. However, despite that, Tallon says the clinic has seen egg freezing services rise by 30 per cent over the same time interval — January to July — compared to last year.

“While that doesn’t sound that dramatic, you have to recognize that our clinic was closed for eight weeks in that time and we still surpassed that number,” she says.

Tallon adds the increase can also be linked to how the dating scene has changed.

“Single women recognize it’s hard to date and meet people in this time.”

She says what’s also unique during this time has been the types of couples calling on the clinic’s services.

As cross-border couples are kept apart due to border restrictions, she explains some are concerned about how long it will be until they get to see each other again.

“If you’re of advanced maternal age, so you’re older, we know that being older can increase your time to pregnancy and actually limits the outcome from fertility treatments. So I think our educated patient populations aware of that and proactively seeking care and looking at egg freezing as a way to safeguard against this scenario,” she says.

There have even been examples of people who are separated from their partners because they are immunocompromised or are caregivers to a vulnerable population.

“As a consequence, we’re seeing, again, that these people are aware that not trying now for pregnancy is a concern and they’re looking again to freeze eggs or embryos to use at a later point in time.”

All of these scenarios aside, Tallon says she also believes there may be a significant shift in our thinking because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I can only but wonder if perspective of what’s important are a little bit different. We’re spending a lot of time with our loved ones at home. And I think it may contribute to a bit of a priority shift or a different outlook on what’s important. So that may actually be contributing to why people are prioritizing fertility now in their lives.”

IVF treatment cycles increasing 

In vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures from January to August have also continued to be in demand.

“For patients doing IVF: we have done a total of 858 IVF procedures from Jan – August and last year we did 894 in the same time period,” she added in a statement. “Since the COVID pandemic and we have been functioning with our new processes in place, we have done 455 cycles compared to 345 last year. So, again, doing more treatment cycles since re-opening.”

While the idea of pregnancy may have seemed risky at the begging of the health crisis, especially with worries about accessing medical services, Tallon says it’s not much of a concern now.

“Prior to the pandemic, patients are looking at offsetting pregnancy. Now, they’re looking to continue with their attempts of pregnancy. For most people, because they’re seeing that, you know, this could be with us for some time, we may be living like this for some time. So they’re not really willing to hold off and avoid pregnancy and delivery for the unforeseeable future,” she says.

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