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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: December 1, 2020

A message from our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Asima Ahmad

The COVID-19 pandemic has made navigating fertility treatments even more complex. Whether you’re in the planning stages or actively receiving care, you likely have questions about how this may affect your family-forming journey. Since early 2020, Carrot continues to monitor the impacts of the pandemic on fertility care and family forming. We are actively tracking regional, national, and clinical recommendations to monitor the impact to Carrot members. We have included some information below…

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 individuals receiving fertility care, always discuss your final treatment schedule with your fertility doctor(s). 

United States

The ASRM issued new guidance to U.S. fertility professionals currently providing fertility care in the U.S. as of March 17, 2020, stating:

  1. Suspend initiation of new treatment cycles, including ovulation induction, intrauterine inseminations (IUIs), in vitro fertilization (IVF) including retrievals and frozen embryo transfers, as well as non-urgent gamete cryopreservation.
  2. Strongly consider cancellation of all embryo transfers whether fresh or frozen.
  3. Continue to care for patients who are currently “in-cycle” or who require urgent stimulation and cryopreservation.
  4. Suspend elective surgeries and non-urgent diagnostic procedures.
  5. Minimize in-person interactions and increase utilization of telehealth.

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.


Canadian Society recommendations

The Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS) offered recommendations on May 13, 2020, aligned with April 29, 2020 recommendations, 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

In addition, the CFAS proposed that clinics implement an integrated clinical and ethical framework to encourage all clinics to use the same transparent guiding principle of safety to patient and staff.

See additional information here.


European Society recommendations

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) and checking sites regularly for updates regarding the spread of the disease, travel guidelines, and updated health/reproductive outcomes data. See the 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. Do I need to wear a mask or take any extra precautions to prevent myself from getting sick when I return to the clinic?
  2. What precautions will the clinic be taking to reduce risk of transmission to patients and staff when the clinic reopens?
  3. Many patients have their treatments on hold. What protocol, if any, does the clinic have in place to determine when a patient can start their treatment? For example, will patients who have diminished ovarian reserve go first?

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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