How does COVID-19 affect fertility and fertility treatments?

We’ve been getting a lot of questions from our Ovally community on how COVID-19 might affect fertility, as well as access to fertility treatments in the US and in Europe. But before we dive into this content, we’d like to send our heartfelt well-wishes to you, dear readers, and hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe. For the purposes of this post, we’ll stay focused on fertility; if you’re looking for more detailed information on COVID-19, here’s the latest from the CDC. We’ll keep updating this post as more information becomes available.

COVID-19’s effects on fertility:

Guidance for women hoping to get pregnant:

  • The CDC and WHO have not issued any medical warnings to avoid or delay getting pregnant if you have no COVID-19 symptoms (so ‘Netflix & chill’ away;). However, potentially more limited access to medical resources over the coming months, as well as additional psychological and financial stressors may be personal considerations for some
  • If you show symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19, the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology recommends avoiding getting pregnant
  • So far, we do not have any information on whether contracting COVID-19 could affect your ability to conceive later on

Guidance for pregnant women:

  • According to the WHO, there’s no evidence that pregnant women are at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19 than the general population
  • However, pregnant women can be badly affected by some respiratory infections according to the CDC (e.g., SARS or MERS) and should therefore take precautionary measures and get in touch with their healthcare provider if they experience COVID-19 symptoms
  • We’re still waiting on more data on whether COVID-19 can get passed on to the baby through amniotic fluid or breastmilk; nine pregnant women in Wuhan who were sick with COVID-19 the virus did not transmit it to their babies, but there’s been one recent case of potential transmission in the news in the US
  • Some hospitals, particularly in NYC, have begun allowing only mothers-to-be in the birthing room; to prepare yourself for what your delivery might look like if your due date is coming up soon, find out what your local hospital’s procedure is

Guidance to women with babies:

  • If you’re breastfeeding and have COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms, the WHO advises to wear a mask, wash your hands before and after touching the baby, and disinfect surfaces you’ve touched

 

COVID 19’s effects on fertility treatments:

Guidance for US fertility clinics from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine:

  • Don’t start any new fertility treatments
  • Complete ongoing fertility treatments
  • If a patient has COVID-19 and is in the midst of an IVF cycle, have them consider freezing their eggs or embryos to resume treatment later on
  • Offer virtual consults where possible

In Europe, fertility clinics have received similar guidance. Ovally‘s partner clinics continue to offer initial video consults with their reproductive endocrinologists, and some are offering reduced fees for patients interested in pre-paying for their treatment. We’re also continuing our welcome consults for potential patients who have the time and space right now to think through fertility treatments, even if we don’t know yet when exactly fertility clinics in the US and in Europe will be able to resume normal operations.

 

Sending much love to all affected by the pandemic in so many ways.

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