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COVID-19

Coronavirus and fertility treatments: What you need to know

By
Asima Ahmad, MD, MPH, Carrot Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer
Coronavirus and fertility treatments: What you need to know
March 13, 2020
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Our Coronavirus Resource Center is available for anyone who has questions about how efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 are impacting the pursuit of parenthood. It is constantly being updated with answers to your questions, links to resources, and the latest guidance from global experts.

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Last updated: May 11, 2020

A message from our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Asima Ahmad

As the number of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19) infections grows worldwide, people are understandably concerned. Many are wondering how to protect themselves, but they’re also wondering how this may impact other parts of their lives. That may include questions about how the ongoing pandemic may impact their family-forming plans, whether they’re in the planning stages or actively pursuing parenthood. While there are many things still unknown about COVID-19 and its effects, here’s what we currently know.


COVID-19 and fertility

Although there is currently no data that indicates that COVID-19 has a direct impact on reproduction and pregnancy, it is currently being studied, and this may be subject to change. There has been some early data suggesting that vertical transmission of COVID-19 from mother to baby is possible; research is ongoing.

Below is a list of some of the regional and national fertility resources offering guidance on COVID-19 and fertility care. We’ve also included a list of links for country- and region-specific COVID-19 guidance at the bottom of this post.

We’ll be sharing updates from some of these organizations here as it becomes available. For those receiving fertility care, always discuss your final treatment schedule with your fertility doctor.

United States

The ASRM issued new guidance to U.S. fertility professionals currently providing fertility care in the U.S. as of May 11, 2020. It includes a tiered system designed to offer guidance as different locations deal with fluctuating COVID-19 infection levels.

The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) has launched PRIORITY: Pregnancy Coronavirus Outcomes Registry to better understand COVID-19's impact on pregnant people and newborns. The program is run online, so it is open to anyone in the U.S. If you or someone you know are pregnant and under investigation for or confirmed to have COVID-19, consider registering.

Effective March 27, 2020, the New York Department of Health has issued new guidance restricting hospital visitation in obstetric and pediatric settings. However, New York officials have issued a new order allowing people giving birth to bring a support person with them.

Canada

The Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS) offered recommendations on April 29, 2020, for clinics to consider proceeding with services based on several factors including:  

  • Provincial and municipal advisories 
  • Resource availability and limitations, including health care resources and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for patients and staff
  • Assessment of COVID-19 transmission risk to staff and patients

See additional information here.

Europe

‍The ESHRE issued updated guidance on April 23, 2020: “As the COVID-19 pandemic is stabilising, the return to normal daily life will also see the need to restart the provision of ART treatments. Infertility is a disease and once the risk of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 infection is decreasing, all ART treatments can be restarted for any clinical indication, in line with local regulations. However, vigilance and measured steps must be taken for safe practice and to

minimise the risks related to SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19-positive patients or staff

during treatment.” See the full guidance here.


Looking for more information?

We also recommend following guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and, for those in the U.S.A., the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as well as checking those sites regularly for updates regarding the spread of the disease, travel guidelines, and updated health/reproductive outcomes data. See the full list of links for country- and region-specific COVID-19 guidance at the bottom of this post for your location’s specific updates.


Questions to ask your clinic

Since various countries and regions are at different points in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be difficult to know when and how your fertility clinic may resume normal operations. Here are a few questions you can ask your clinic to make sure you’re staying safe and informed on what to expect with your care.

  1. When attending any clinic appointment, what precautions will the clinic be taking and what should I expect in order to reduce risk of transmission to myself, other patients, and staff?
  2. Will there be additional informed consent forms I and/or my partner need to sign when attempting fertility interventions at this time?
  3. Will there be a prioritization process or protocol that will be addressing some patient conditions or procedures when determining when I (or we) will be able to return to (or initiate access to) care at this clinic?

For Carrot members with any other questions about returning to care, schedule a virtual chat with our team to learn more.

Keep yourself (and others) healthy

Given the evolving situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important to take measures to keep yourself and others around you healthy. Here are some preventative actions you can take to reduce transmission. 

Avoid exposure. This may mean avoiding nonessential travel to or from high risk areas (WHO travel advisory) and contact with those who are ill. Your location of residence may impact travel recommendations, therefore, country-specific advice related to travel and localized high-risk areas of the coronavirus should be consulted. 

Reduce your risk. Wash hands frequently with warm soap and water for at least 20-30 seconds. If you are unable to wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Clean and disinfect surfaces using household cleaning spray and/or wipes. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Sneeze or cough into your bended elbow or cover your mouth with a tissue. 


What to do if you become ill

Stay at home. If possible, stay at home if you develop symptoms. Keep in mind that the symptoms of infection are not uniform and can present as a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness to severe illness requiring hospitalization. This will help protect people around you from becoming ill and thwart the spread of this disease. 

Call your doctor. If you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or are exhibiting flu-like symptoms,  follow your regional and national guidance on what to do and the best way to access care. It’s advised that individuals who are immunosuppressed refrain from entering high risk areas, such as doctor’s offices, emergency rooms, or urgent care, to reduce contracting or spreading disease. If you think you may be pregnant, contact your medical professional for advice based on your individual needs. 

Concerning fertility treatment. When making decisions regarding your timeline for treatment, always discuss and finalize your decision-making with your fertility doctor.

If you are seeking treatment at this time, please reach out to your doctor to find out how this may impact your treatment plan. Carrot members can also reach out to the Carrot Care team with any questions about your fertility or adoption journey.


You can also find the latest COVID-19 information from the following resources:

Global 

Country and region-specific


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Dr. Asima Ahmad is Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at Carrot Fertility. Dr. Ahmad is a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist, obstetrician, and gynecologist. Dr. Ahmad’s work has been published extensively in academic literature on a wide range of topics related to fertility and women’s health

Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Carrot Fertility makes no representations or warranties and expressly disclaims any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app.

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