The fertility world has gone a little bit nuts too! 

If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that a pandemic has the power to affect absolutely every part of our lives. The fertility world is no exception, and the COVID-19 epidemic, plus social and travel restrictions, have caused all kinds of mayhem to those trying for a baby. We’re all just a little bit frazzled now, and desperate for these restrictions to end. 

Thankfully the end of the pandemic is in sight, even if we have a little way to go yet. Let’s look back at some of the strange things we learned about the fertility world in the past 12 months. 

We never imagined we’d be using the phrase “Baby Backlog”

The pandemic travel restrictions affected fertility treatment around the world, delaying and cancelling many procedures. Even those who did manage to have a baby during the pandemic could run into problems though.

The footage of rows of uncollected babies in cribs, who were victims of the Ukraine’s “Baby Backlog” made headlines around the world. The genetic parents of these children were unable to collect them and take them home – and it took months for some parents to be united with their newborns.

We found out about unethical “baby factories” in the Ukraine

It sounds like something from an episode of the Handmaid’s Tale, but sadly the “Baby Factory” is real. Off the back of the Baby Backlog, we found out about Baby Factories.

A Ukraine-based company advertised a guaranteed baby for a £40k fee. When a UK couple turned up to collect their child, they saw the squalid conditions that surrogates had to endure, such as lack of showers, and cramped wards with no air conditioning.

The couple spoke about their regret at how the surrogate that carried their twin boys was treated, and warned other families that they may be participating in the abusive treatment of women if they use this particular company. 

Interested in surrogacy in the UK? We have all the details for a legal and ethical surrogacy arrangement.

We discovered that it’s possible – and even legal, to harvest sperm from a deceased person

We’re fairly used to the miraculous power of IVF these days. Every now and then though, a story appears in the media that demonstrates just how incredible medical technology has become. However, as many science fiction stories warn; just because you can do something, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. The tragic case of winter Olympian Alex “Chumpy” Pullin becoming a father after his death is one such example. 

Some people are completely behind Alex’s partner obtaining permission to quickly harvest his sperm after his accidental death last year. The couple were undergoing IVF and he clearly wanted to become a father. Others feel that it’s unfair on the child, or unethical for other reasons. Whatever your moral take on this story, it was completely legal and it worked – and now we know that it’s possible to harvest sperm, even hours after death. 

Yet another COVID-19 symptom – reduced fertility in men

There’s a substantial and gloomy list of COVID-19 symptoms and health effects, and it just keeps getting longer. Now researchers can reveal that the pandemic could affect sperm quality in men

Researchers in Iran conducted tests on men with confirmed COVID-19. They found that post-illness, men suffered substantial changes to their sperm.

“Sperm concentration was reduced by 516%, mobility by 209% and sperm cell shape was altered by 400%.”

Thankfully these effects improved over time, but with the sheer number of men who’ve caught Covid around the world, this could be another blow to male fertility worldwide.

Even pro-vaxxers started to worry about vaccines

It’s natural to worry about the effect of medication on fertility and health. However, with the world in the grip of a fast-mutating virus, it was vital to get as many people as possible vaccinated.

Although the various COVID-19 vaccines have been through the proper channels to get clearance for use on the public, the speed of their development spooked a lot of people. Anyone with fertility concerns was vulnerable to rumours and misinformation that the vaccine could harm male and female fertility processes. Even once-stalwart pro-vaccinators began to wonder exactly how safe it was, and whether it could cause infertility.

Thankfully that has proved to not be the case, with many medical professionals stepping forward to de-bunk this idea. Although no vaccine or medicine is 100% safe for 100% of people, 100% of the time, the vaccines have already proven to have saved thousands of lives worldwide, with no measurable effect on fertility. Phew!

Pandemic restrictions cause a huge shortage of donor eggs

Egg donation makes dreams come true, even for couples who can’t use their own eggs. The pandemic has (predictably) got in the way of egg donation too. 

Younger women who are able to donate healthy eggs for IVF treatment, have been put off attending clinics during the pandemic. Clinics were also forced to shut for months too.This means that eggs are in very short supply, and waiting lists are long. Women over 40 and gay couples are the most affected by the egg donor shortage, but this also affects people with damaged ovaries, and who have undergone chemotherapy. 

Thinking of donating your eggs or using donor eggs?