When the economy is down and unemployment is up, many couples are unable to access fertility care to expand families

Washington, D.C.- To better understand the impact the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession may be having on demand for fertility services in the US, researchers from Harvard Medical School/Boston Children’s Hospital and Extend Fertility in New York City recently studied the 2008 economic crisis’s effect on such services. The findings revealed a direct connection between unemployment and fertility care access.  
Using the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) database to evaluate demand in fertility services between 2007 to 2011, researchers found that while the number of cycles increased throughout that period an average of 2.3% per year, the growth significantly decreased during the 2008 recession from 4.8% in 2007 to 0.2% in 2009. The change in the number of cycles per 1,000 was significantly associated with the change in state unemployment rate.  
Researchers estimate that about 10,000 cycles were forgone in 2008-2010. Under the same assumptions and a projection of 5% additional unemployment in 2020, around 15,000 assisted reproductive therapy cycles are estimated to be forgone this year.  
“It is estimated that most infertile couples in the US do not have access to fertility services, and the current recession and resulting increase in unemployment have only worsened the ability to expand your family,” said Hugh Taylor, MD, President-Elect of ASRM. “We should not only continue traditional IVF care for those who can afford it but also advocate loudly for insurance coverage for all. Unemployment and lack of insurance should never be a barrier to couples accessing the care they need to expand their families.”

For almost a century, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has been the global leader in multidisciplinary reproductive medicine research, ethical practice, and education. ASRM impacts reproductive care and science worldwide by creating funding opportunities for advancing reproduction research and discovery, by providing evidence-based education and public health information, and by advocating for reproductive health care professionals and the patients they serve. With members in more than 100 countries, the Society is headquartered in Washington, DC, with additional operations in Birmingham, AL.

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