ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Some local hospitals have seen an increase in the number of people seeking fertility care over the course of the pandemic.
“There’s definitely been an increase in volumes of patients coming through seeking fertility care and IVF. It’s not affected negatively by the pandemic and actually is much higher now than before the pandemic,” said Snigdha Alur-Gupta, an Assistant Professor of OBGYN at the University of Rochester and an infertility specialist.
So what’s the reason for the increase? Alur-Gupta said there could be many, but a big possibility is because of recent mandates that have come through the state making access to fertility care easier.
“Infertility, it is a problem that pretty prevalent in our population. It’s not a choice, so I think one of the tough things that we are infertility specialist were facing was that insurance would deny or not cover procedures which were necessary or medically necessary for patients,” Alur-Gupta said.
Health experts say these mandates have resulted in larger companies being able to provide fertility coverage for patients. Before, many insurances would deny or not cover procedures that were medically necessary for patients trying to have children.
“It didn’t seem fair because it was almost like the patient was being denied something that they don’t necessarily have control over and so I think having coverage for it is definitely the right step to take because a lot of these patients, this is their opportunity to be hopefully be parents one day and that’s a major life-changing decision that shouldn’t be left up to whether or not they can afford it.” Alur-Gupta said.
Alur-Gupta also said the increase in people seeking fertility care could be in part due to lifestyle changes during the pandemic and families may realize their timeline for wanting kids has changed.
“Perhaps with the pandemic itself, people started recognizing more, especially with the shorter shutdown, that they wanted to maybe seek pregnancy sooner than they would have otherwise thought to and it’s made easier by increased access to coverage,” Alur-Gupta said.
Alur-Gupta said cancer patients have also been impacted by this additional coverage. Since chemotherapy can impact fertility, cancer patients often times choose to do IVF, or In vitro fertilization, before chemo to preserve their eggs. Many of these patients had to pay out of pocket for costs, but now coverage for those patients has also increased across our state.
Nationwide, people have started to have children at a later age.
“I think some of the national trends we’ve seen is women are getting pregnant at older ages or delaying child bearing to older ages as well and that could be driven by multiple factors including following different careers, professional and personal choices as well,” Alur-Gupta said.
If you are someone who is interested in learning more about options for fertility, Alur-Gupta says there are many resources.
“Every patient should feel empowered to learn about fertility and what their options are so if they ever feel like they have questions and want to get more information, they should always feel like they have the access and availability to do that,” Alur-Gupta said.