FERTILITY TREATMENT AND PREGNANCY DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
updated March 30, 2020
FERTILITY TREATMENT AND PREGNANCY DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
COVID-19 Update: Starting April 17, Carolina Conceptions will be temporarily halting routine care of patients in the office. Each physician will be continuing to answer questions by email. Please find your physicians’ emails on our website under each of our bio pages. Our doctors will continue to do teleconsultations now and after April 17. Our nurses will continue to do superovulation, IVF, and FET classes via teleconferencing during this time as well. Consultations and nurse class appointments can be made by calling our office at 919-782-5911 and speaking with our receptionist M-F 7:30 AM -12:00 PM. Please remember that patients should not use social media as a way to contact us or ask questions due to health care privacy laws. We will continue to provide updates on our website, Facebook, and Instagram. Please stay safe, everyone.
We have decided to suspend new cycles of ovarian stimulation for timed intercourse, intrauterine insemination (IUI), and donor insemination. Patients in the midst of a treatment cycle can continue, and if successful, will be able to continue receiving care through our office until they are ready to meet with their OB GYN. Otherwise, we suggest patients reach out to their physician at Carolina Conceptions or schedule a phone consultation to discuss plans for the future. We also suggest patients check back periodically on our website or social media platforms for updates.
ASRM has developed an expert task force regarding COVID-19, and on March 17, 2020 they issued a statement recommending “suspension of new, non-urgent treatments. Specifically, the recommendations include:
- Suspension of 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.
- Strongly consider cancellation of all embryo transfers, whether fresh or frozen.
- Continue to care for patients who are currently ‘in-cycle’ or who require urgent stimulation and cryopreservation.
- Suspend elective surgeries and non-urgent diagnostic procedures.
- Minimize in-person interactions and increase utilization of telehealth…
Data on its impact on pregnancy and reproduction remains limited. However, the task forced used best available data, and the expertise and experience of the members to develop the recommendations. Until more is known about the virus, and while we remain in the midst of a public health emergency, it is best to avoid initiation of new treatment cycles for infertility patients.”
We wish to inform patients of these recommendations as soon as possible, which is why we are disseminating this information on social media and on our website. We will be reaching out to patients who are in treatment or plan to begin treatment soon, so that we can discuss the situation and come up with a plan. We realize that some patients will not be able to stop treatment and will want to continue despite the latest recommendations. We will allow patients to proceed if they are in the midst of a treatment cycle. Please check back on our website for the latest developments as there may be an interval when we will not be able to offer services due to the risk of the virus.
PREGNANCY AND COVID-19
According to the CDC, we do not currently know if pregnant women have a greater chance than the general public of getting sick from COVID-19 nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result. We also do not know at this time if COVID-19 would cause problems during pregnancy or affect the health of the baby after birth.
We still do not know if a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can pass the virus that causes COVID-19 to her fetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery. No infants born to mothers with COVID-19 have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. In these cases, which are a small number, the virus was not found in samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk.
According to the CDC, we do not know if there is any risk to infants of a pregnant woman who has COVID-19. There have been a small number of complications with pregnancy or delivery (e.g. preterm birth) in babies born to mothers who tested positive for COVID-19 during pregnancy. However, it is not clear that these outcomes were related to maternal infection or other causes.
For the safety of our staff and patients, we ask that you notify us immediately if you have any cold or flu symptoms, have a fever, have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, or have recently traveled to China, Japan, South Korea, Iran, or Europe. In an effort to help us do our part to limit the spread of disease, we ask that you not enter our waiting room if you meet these criteria to avoid potential exposure to our staff and other patients. Also, friends and family members are not permitted in the waiting room unless they are directly needed for the appointment (for example, male patients providing sperm for IUI or IVF). All patients will be asked to check in, then wait in their car and we will call when you are ready to be seen for their appointment.
If you have symptoms such as mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, please call your primary healthcare provider, especially if you have any of these symptoms and have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 or if you have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.
For new patient and follow-up consultations we ask that we have a phone consult rather than meeting in person. Partners and spouses of patients will not be allowed to attend an in-person appointment, but are welcome to call in via speakerphone.
We know that infertility treatment can be a very stressful time and the concerns of COVID-19 in treatment and pregnancy only add to the situation. Carolina Conceptions is closely monitoring real-time developments and continually looking to experts such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) for guidance.