Demand for fertility services persists despite COVID-19 shutdowns
In 2019, the global fertility services industry was estimated to be worth $14.8 billion with demand driven by the significant growth in the median age of first-time mothers, according to a Research & Markets report.
Gina Bartasi, founder and CEO of NYC-based fertility center Kindbody, has pointed to macroeconomic trends responsible for the industry’s consistent growth, such as the increase in single mothers by choice and the fact that “heterosexual couples are waiting to have children and waiting to get married, and more and more same-sex couples are having children, which is relatively new.”
Regardless of the increasing demand, disasters can disrupt fertility services: On March 17, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine directed U.S.-based fertility clinics to avoid initiating new treatments, push back nonemergency surgeries and shift care to telemedicine.
Now reopened, it’s undeniable that COVID-19’s national impact could alter the space as different types of crises have in the past. In looking back, we can find a better understanding of what the future holds.
After the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, a University of Louisville study found that there was “a prompt and significant increase in births and birthrates in the post-9/11 period” in New York City. Relatedly, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005 and created the nation’s costliest natural disaster, it was also one of five times since 1987 that frozen embryos were evacuated and protected during a natural disaster.
According to a study done by University of Wisconsin, “following Katrina, displacement contributed to a 30% decline in birth cohort size. Black fertility fell, and remained 4% below expected values through 2010. By contrast, white fertility increased by 5%.” The communities were so ravaged that the area’s Black population has remained substantially smaller.