Life on Pause: An Analysis of UK Fertility Patients’ Coping Mechanisms After the Cancellation of Fertility Treatment Due to COVID-19
In March 2020, fertility clinics across the UK began cancelling all assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment, with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) stopping all ART treatment from going ahead beyond the 15th April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This article examines the coping mechanisms adopted by fertility patients during this time, focussing on the emotional support received from online fertility forums and fertility clinics during the indeterminate wait for treatment to resume. The study draws upon an online survey which assessed the mental health and wellbeing of 124 female fertility patients whose ART treatment was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The findings indicate a potential for improved communication between fertility clinics and patients in order to reduce psychological stress and isolation during the postponement of ART treatment, alongside better utilisation of online platforms as mechanisms for support. This article adds to the growing body of knowledge concerned with the implications of denying reproductive rights to the infertility community during a global pandemic. It also contributes to sociological discussions on the support mechanisms available to those navigating infertility and the wider social management of uncertainty.