Gabrielle Rodney, fertility nurse and andrologist, at work on the Olympus IX51 microscope at the IVF Fertility Centre on Rookery Nook, Maraval.

Since the start of the pandemic just over a year ago, fertility inquires and treatment in this country have increased.

“We are seeing three times the amount of people,” Medical Director of Trinidad and Tobago IVF and Fertility Centre Dr Catherine Minto-Bain said.

At her office at Rookery Nook Maraval, the Fertility Medicine Specialist said the upsurge here was quite unusual when compared to what was happening around the rest of the world.

“Normally people can get an appointment within a week, at the moment we are booked through to May. We’re seeing about four times the number of people,” Dr Minto-Bain said.

Headlines such as, “France sees sharp decline in ‘lockdown babies” and “Baby bust: US birth rate falls during pandemic,” were reported on major news sites earlier this year.

Dr Minto-Bain said with more people home, the world anticipated a baby boom.

Statistics from the Regional Health Authority’s monthly births show the rate remains the same as from previous years even with the pandemic.

“We had expected that people are home, working from home more, we expected an uptick…We’ve always known fertility was a huge problem in this country, probably one in every six couples,” the specialist said.

She told Guardian Media that there were many reasons families here at home were seeking fertility help during the pandemic, as they had time to reflect on their lives.

“Particularly if I’m working from home and I got more time or some people are being laid off or furloughed, people have had more time to think about it… you reassess your life, you reassess your partner,” she said.

But while there was an increase in those seeking fertility help, Dr Minto-Bain said there are factors in the pandemic that aspiring parents should consider before starting a family.

“Absolutely, people worry about having a child when there is job security worries, economy worries,” she said.

Dr Minto-Bain said in other countries where they were baby booms, a lack of proper family planning was the reason. She does not believe it is what happened here, but said education was needed.

“Maybe it’s because young women do not have the information to know about Family Planning…maybe there is a stigma attached around going for birth control,” she added.

Dr Minto-Bain also cleared up another concern that may be on the minds of women thinking about conceiving, that’s whether the COVID-19 vaccine caused infertility.

She said that was a myth started by one person and has no scientific basis behind it.

“It’s illogical to even think that it could be possible. Fertility concerns should not be in your mind if you are offered a vaccine,” the specialist explained.

She encouraged women to get vaccinated as she said there was no fallout and while the COVID-19 vaccines were new, the doctor explained that it uses the same method as others.

“We know the vehicles that we are using…all of this have been studied before…. It’s really not a worry people should have at all,” she said.

For the people thinking of conceiving during the pandemic, Dr Minto-Bain said they should consider if this is the right time.

“Think about what life might be like,” she said.

She said generally, pregnant women do well with COVID-19, but it is a bit more of a risk for them at this time.

The Trinidad & Tobago IVF & Fertility Centre can be reached at 622-8869.