Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada
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Objective: To elucidate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on access to fertility services. Methods: A retrospective quality improvement study was conducted at a university-affiliated fertility practice in southwestern Ontario. Annual procedural volumes for intrauterine and donor inseminations (IUI/DI), in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injections (IVF/ICSI), and frozen embryo transfers (FET) during the COVID-19–affected year were compared with mean annual volumes from the 2 preceding years. In addition, volumes for the same procedures were compared between the first quarter of 2021 and mean first quarter volumes from 2018 to 2019. Piecewise linear regressions were conducted to evaluate whether any changes in monthly procedural volume were attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. Results: In 2020, our fertility practice attained the mean annual volumes of 89.7% for IUI/DI, 69.0% for IVF/ICSI, and 60.6% for FET. In contrast, in 2021, we performed mean first quarter volumes of 130.1% for IUI/DI, 164.3% for IVF/ICSI, and 126.8% for FET. The slopes of the pre- and post–COVID-19 segments of the piecewise linear regressions were significantly different for IUI/DI (P < 0.001) and IVF/ICSI (P = 0.001), but not for FET (P = 0.133). Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in decreased annual volumes of medically assisted reproductive procedures at a university-affiliated fertility practice in southwestern Ontario. Impact on monthly procedural volume was confirmed for IUI/DI and IVF/ICSI by linear regression. Local adaptations helped compensate and exceed expected volumes in 2021. As a result, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a short-lived limitation in access to fertility care.