By: Dr. Ed Coats
As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the globe and remains a serious threat to all our lives many will be wondering what lies ahead for my fertility treatment. One thing that is certain is that uncertain times lie ahead for both patients and clinics. It is hard to give concrete advice in such a rapidly changing landscape, but at the time of writing this article this is where we are. We will update this article as new developments occur.
COVID-19 is the seventh coronavirus to transfer from animals to humans and specifically this type of virus attacks the lungs and airways. It can be fatal to the older generation and those with co-existing medical illnesses. However, it is not exclusive to this group and the novel nature of this new virus is disconcerting. As the scientists and experts search for a suitable vaccine and the epidemiologists work on tactics to suppress the virus the rest of the world watch and wait.
Just this week Fertility Organisations around the globe have united in their advice that all fertility treatments should cease until further notice. The British Fertility Society (BFS), Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA), European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) all recommend that no new fertility treatments should start until the Coronavirus Pandemic has passed.
There has been much uncertainty and debate in recent weeks as to how best to proceed with fertility treatments. There are currently no data to suggest that Covid-19 affects the fetus to cause early pregnancy loss or miscarriage. There are also not thought to be any detrimental long term effects of the virus on the fetus. However, as the pandemic escalates and the NHS is overwhelmed it becomes increasingly difficult to run a safe fertility service for patients and staff alike and it is expected that all treatments will cease within weeks.
The reality of the latest news is that all fertility clinics should cease any new fertility treatments and IVF cycles in accordance with professional advice. Some clinics have stopped already and some are completing the fertility treatments already underway. Still a few clinics are looking at patients on a case by case basis but the expectation is that all treatments will stop within days and certainly weeks. It has been clearly stated that it is preferable to avoid a fresh embryo transfer and that freezing of embryos is advisable as the safest way forward.
The devastating reality of this delay to fertility treatment is that some patients may lose their final opportunity to conceive as time ticks on. It is predicted with the coronavirus peak expected in mid-May to early June that the vast majority of patients should be able to resume fertility treatments in the late Autumn though there is no guarantee.
There is no doubt that all patients young or old will feel incredible anxiety and frustration with this impossible situation. As the pandemic progresses it is important for patients to understand that clinics are not closed completely to their fertility patients. All clinics are looking at innovative ways to maintain contact with their fertility patients and in recent weeks virtual video and telephone consultations with future patients have begun. The next few months of anxiety and pain waiting to start fertility treatments must be used usefully.
Why not spend the next few months usefully and research the fertility clinic options in your area and make some decisions about your direction of treatment.
Also looking further at both fertility supplements and how to ‘optimise your sperm‘ can be both be constructive to ensure when clinics do open again after Covid-19 pandemic is over, you and your body are is the best condition possible.
By: Dr. Ed Coats