39-year-old Elizabeth was in advanced talks with a fertility clinic in Cyprus where she was planning to fly in April for her first IVF cycle. Her dream to start a family came to a daunting halt with the huge unknown COVID-19 pandemic. With lockdown and restriction imposed on travel, Elizabeth knew that this is going to be a heartbreaking and lonely wait. Like Elizabeth, many couples are now uncertain about when they can travel for fertility treatment. Even when the travel restrictions are lifted, what they should consider in terms of safety and health, is another concern they are worried about.
According to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, patients who are planning or considering fertility treatment should avoid becoming pregnant, even if they don’t meet the coronavirus infection diagnostic criteria. Patients whose treatment was already started were advised to delay. However, the European Centre of Disease Control advised in March that coronavirus infection has a negative impact on the fetus during pregnancy. There is yet no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted during pregnancy from mother to baby.
However, this is not enough for the fertility treatment patients to get rid of their distress and confusion. It is very important to know crucial things regarding COVID-19 and fertility treatment abroad. Here, we have listed some of the most important things that you must learn about fertility treatment amid the pandemic of Novel Coronavirus.
The fertility clinic would probably pause your treatment if you test positive for coronavirus before egg collection. According to the current guidelines issued by the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, people must wait for 28 days after recovering from coronavirus before they resume the treatment. If you test COVID positive after the egg has been collected, you will get recovery time before any transfer as embryos will be frozen.
It is advisable not to pursue fertility tourism at this moment as there are strict travel restrictions in most parts of the world. Still, it can be the best time during quarantine to prepare for IVF so that treatment can be started quickly when things resume to normal. If the treatment of assisted reproduction already started among some patients, they are recommended to opt for embryo freezing or elective oocyte for later freeze-all embryo transfer.
Generally, there is not much of a difference in how the impact of coronavirus infection will be on a pregnant woman and other adults. The majority of pregnant women will experience mild or moderate symptoms like cold and flu.
There is still no evidence that suggests any risk of miscarriage, though the virus is very new and experts are randomly studying about it. However, it is possible that the virus can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her baby. Though the experts suggest, it may not cause a problem with the baby’s development during pregnancy or health after birth.
This is a highly fluid situation. Even if the patients do not meet the COVID-19 infection diagnostic criteria, all fertility patients are advised to defer pregnancy. Things are expected to be back to normal when the services will resume. It is expected that patients whose treatments were disrupted or delayed will get priority first.
It is a very trying and difficult time for patients awaiting fertility treatments. They can seek telemedicine advice or online consultation from the doctors to discuss what measures should be taken. They should also communicate with the fertility clinic to learn about the updates regarding changes to the service.
People who are planning to get fertility treatment are worried about how the situation will influence egg donors’ availability. You must consult with the fertility clinic how they are going to ensure that the donor is not coronavirus infected. The clinics must test for the presence of respiratory symptoms and check if they have traveled high-risk areas. If the donor has traveled from a location at risk, it is important to impose a two-week suspension. In case the donor is experiencing respiratory symptoms, it is necessary to necessitate another two-week suspension from the end of symptoms. Most importantly, egg recipients must have complete access to the medical history (past and present) of the donor.
Presently, there is no evidence that delaying treatment by one or two months will affect your ability to have a child. Even this is applicable for patients who have concerns about low egg supply and advanced age. However, the recommendations are continuously updated and reviewed and patients should communicate with the clinic regularly.
COVID-19 pandemic is probably the biggest challenge anyone has faced in their lifetime. The situation is definitely very challenging for people seeking fertility treatment abroad, but it is also certain that things will be back to normal again. So, you should use this time to prepare for your treatment cycle and if possible seek insurance authorization for your treatment. You can also focus on your general health and engage in healthy habits like right nutrition, weight loss, no smoking, etc. to improve fertility treatment success possibilities. You can also seek a telehealth option to schedule a consultation by an expert on how to prepare for the treatment cycle. Prepare now, remain positive and you will be ready to start treatment as soon as things are safe.
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