COVID Shutdowns Create Fertility Clinic Rush

Since the COVID-19 lockdowns in early 2020, demand for fertility services has skyrocketed. Fertility clinics and IVF providers report a recent rush on services, the result of a “perfect storm” of pandemic-defrayed dating and parenting plans, more at-home time to consider and pursue parenthood, and an accelerating trend toward egg freezing to preserve future reproductive options.

In early March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) called for an indefinite pause on fertility treatments, with the exception of fertility preservation for women with cancer. Authorities designated fertility services “non-essential,” forcing many clinics to close their doors for several months and those undergoing or waiting to begin assisted reproduction procedures forced to cancel or delay their plans.

COVID Lockdowns Meant Time to Consider Future Parenthood

The pause was short-lived. Fertility clinics and donor agencies, incorporating best safety practices and technological efficiencies developed in response to the lockdowns, as we reported earlier, rebounded quickly. On reopening, in addition to catching up on delayed procedures, they faced a wave of new customers, created in part by the unique circumstances of the lockdown.

Although the already falling U.S. annual birth rate dropped more than 8 percent during the pandemic, the demand for fertility services only grew. In Texas, where the birthrate dropped 2.5 percent from 2019 to 2020, the Texas Fertility Center, which operates six clinics across the state, has seen a nearly 30 percent increase in services.

Patients offer several reasons for deciding to pursue fertility services now, Dr. Kara Goldman, an infertility specialist and medical director of fertility preservation at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, told NPR station WBEZChicago.

For many people, COVID lockdowns and the ongoing need for social distancing putting a hold on dating. Women concerned about finding the right partner before their “biological clocks” impacted their fertility had to adjust their timelines.

As millions of people shifted to working from home, many reproductive-age workers and professionals suddenly had time and energy to think about the possibility of future parenthood and do something about it.

As clinics reopened, women who pre-lockdown were too busy with work and careers to think about family-building  found they now had the flexible schedules to accommodate time-consuming medication regimens and clinical procedures.

Pandemic Accelerates Egg-Freezing, Sperm-Freezing Trends

A large portion of the growth in demand fertility services is driven by the fertility preservation trend, or egg and sperm freezing, as we wrote earlier. For a growing number of young people, planning for parenthood means planning to defer parenthood, by harvesting eggs or sperm and freezing or cryopreserving them for use in conception sometime in the future. The age when people marry and have their first child in the United States has been steadily rising for years. Today, the average age for woman’s first child is 32 in San Francisco, 31 in New York, as The New Yorker reports,

New York City’s NYU Langone Fertility Center saw a 41 percent jump in egg freezing cycles in 3rd quarter 2020 compared to a year earlier, The New Yorker reports. Sperm testing and freezing company Legacy reported a ten-fold growth in sales from 2019 to 2020. Experts estimate that total demand, including single and same sex intended parents and individuals facing invasive therapies for cancer and other conditions, could reach 1.1 million cycles a year.

Feeding the trend is the growing number of employers who offer coverage for fertility preservation services as an employee benefit, particularly popular in the tech sector. Several states now require insurers to offer coverage for assisted reproduction, including fertility preservation, making the services increasingly available and accessible to more people, as we reported last year.

Post-Lockdown Rush for Fertility Services is Global

The post-pandemic demand for fertility services is not limited to the United States. Fertility clinics in Delhi report the number of walk-in patients has more than doubled since December 2019, The Hindu Times reports. Nova IVF saw more than 10,000 patients at its 27 IVF centers in 19 cities in the period since the closures, Aswati Nair, a fertility consultant for the company, told Hindu Times. “As both partners are at home, they have been getting enough time together to take decisions that took a backseat due to their pre-COVID busy life,” he said.

Likewise, some U.K. fertility clinics reported a 50-percent jump in new patient inquiries about egg freezing services this summer compared to a year ago, according to the Daily Mail.

In Australia, Medicare data showed a 35 percent jump in the number of IVF cycles from May 2020 to May 2021, “with every state and territory experiencing a growth of at least 21.5 per cent,” according to a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

COVID-19 Lockdowns Accelerated Assisted Reproduction Trend

Although the confinement and unique circumstances of the COVID-19 lockdowns undoubtedly boosted the number of people seeking fertility services, in fact they only accelerated a trend: For many young people today, using technology to “hack” reproduction and parenthood only makes sense. “Reproductive entrepreneurs” have commercialized assisted reproduction, as The New Yorker reports, with national companies, such as egg-freezing franchiser Kindbody, creating a retail experience for potential customers. Some envision a future norm of “managed reproduction,” when eggs and sperm are harvested and safely stored away, to be thawed and used for conception at some future, more convenient time… and sex is just for fun. In other words, they envision a whole new customer base for fertility services, beyond the traditional population of infertile couples, singles, LGBTQ intended parents and cancer patients.

The growth of these innovative startups may very well be an important part of making the miracle of assisted reproduction more acceptable, accessible and affordable for everyone. As demand grows, the capacity will be needed. Due to a confluence of factors, assisted reproductive technology is one of today’s hottest markets, and entrepreneurs are rushing to meet the demand, and to profit from it.

But reproductive medicine experts are sounding notes of caution.

Complex Technology, Variable Success Rates = Buyer Beware

A 2015 Spanish study found that women aged 36 and older who freeze 10 eggs have less than a 30 percent chance of eventually giving birth. The process for successfully harvesting and freezing eggs for future conception is still relatively new and is highly technical and precise.

Most of the eggs that have been frozen to date using this complex new technology have not yet been thawed and used, so data on success rates is sparse, as The New Yorker article points out.

Experts express concerns that newcomers to the field, in an urgency to ramp up capacity, may lack the technical expertise to ensure positive outcomes. “When women come back for their eggs, it’s going to be a nightmare,” San Francisco reproductive endocrinologist told The New Yorker. “It’s going to be really bad for our whole field. It could make people say, ‘Well, egg-freezing doesn’t work,’ because there’s massive variability” in outcomes between clinics.

As with any new medical technology, it is essential that providers be forthcoming and transparent to ensure that patients are fully informed about both the risks of the procedures and about the ultimate chances of successful conception and birth.

The fertility boom is heating up and not expected to slow down anytime soon, as more people understand and seek to take advantage of the expanded possibilities for future family-building. It’s up to consumers to do their own due diligence and to demand honest answers from providers. And it’s up to those of us in the fertility professions to adhere to best practices and to demand accountability from our peers.

As attorneys practicing exclusively in fertility law, we at IFLG work continuously to inform potential parents and the public about the possibilities of assisted reproductive technology and about the importance of experienced legal counsel to ensure families are legally protected and secure.

As part of that commitment to education, IFLG attorney Molly O’Brien and I are honored to be participating in the Men Having Babies East Coast Surrogacy Conference & Gay Parenting Expo on September 18 and 19 at The Westin New York Times Square in New York City. (Read more about the conference here.) Stop by and see us there, visit us in our New York office at Bryant Park, 501 5th Avenue, Suite 1900 (aka (5th and 42nd), or contact our experienced, multi-lingual team of fertility lawyers and paralegals at https://www.iflg.net/contact/.



Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University which he received in 2013, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”


Kim has over 30 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

Los Angeles

5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 645

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone:  +1 323 331 9343

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

New York

501 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900

New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.

Phoebe Sadler

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Alexander Espinoza
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Cara Stecker
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Katie Deaquino
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Elsa Jimenez
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.