WINDSOR, ONT. -- Infertility treatments are delayed as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to suspend elective medical procedures across the country, causing uncertainty in patients who have dreamed of becoming parents.

“We were told to stop doing any elective cases, only cancer fertility preservation cases are allowed to continue,” says Dr. Rahi Victory, who followed recommendations by the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS) to suspend services at Victory Reproductive Care in Windsor, Ont.

These suspensions affect patients in the midst of, or about to begin, fertility treatments like in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

Melissa Mailloux and her husband James have been trying to conceive through IVF for the last two years.

“The journey has been long and hard,” says Mailloux. “A lot of doctor visits, interviews, blood work, and money spent.”

The couple had two embryos set to transfer in April, but their long anticipated moment was suddenly postponed due to the pandemic.

“I’m trying to remain patient. Stress is a big reason why IVF doesn’t work,” she says.

Mailloux is one of the many women in the infertility support group Fertility Friends who have their dreams of motherhood on pause.

Stacey Robert-Tobin created Fertility Friends in 2017 to provide a space where women struggling to conceive can connect and support one another. She says the pandemic has caused many members anxiety and a sense of hopelessness.

“This is incredibly devastating to women and families who have already been waiting so long for a child. Waiting for procedures can sometimes take to two three years,” she says.

Although procedures will eventually resume, many women have already spent thousands of dollars on medication during the preparation phase.

“For those that don’t have drug coverage, you’re looking at a substantial investment in medication. On average, it’s probably between $3,000 to $40,00 for an IVF cycle,” says Victory.

He says the demographic affected the most by the delay of treatments is those with weak ovaries, which is more prevalent among older women.

“If you have high ovarian reserve, a delay of a month or two is not going to make a difference. But for patients of what we call diminished ovarian reserve, those patients after three months do see some compromises.”

Victory is working alongside the national committee to propose guidelines to ensure a safe reopening for procedures.