March 19, 2020
COVID-19 and Fertility Treatment
Due to the ongoing situation regarding Covid-19, health bodies have introduced measures for IVF clinics worldwide. Our Medical Director, Tim Child explains below what this means for our patients:
The British Fertility Society (BFS), American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) have all stated (see links at end) that, in view of the unknown effects of Covid-19 on embryos and pregnancy, and in the midst of a public health emergency, no new fertility treatment cycles should be started at the moment. The Fertility Partnership has the welfare of our patients, and their pregnancies, foremost in our minds. In view of the clear statements from the world’s the main fertility societies we believe the responsible and safe thing to do is to not start any new treatment cycles. This decision will be reviewed frequently as new data emerge and the pandemic progresses with the aim of getting back to normal.
This unfortunately means that no new ovulation induction, IUI, fresh IVF or Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) cycles can be started until further notice.
If you are currently in a treatment cycle (having started drugs, or are being monitored in a natural FET cycle) you may wish to continue and we will support you. In keeping with the BFS, ASRM and ESHRE advice we strongly suggest that, in a fresh IVF cycle, all embryos are frozen rather than transferred fresh. Once the situation has settled then a Frozen Embryo Transfer cycle, either natural or medicated, would be undertaken. Any extra work required to store the embryos and perform the first FET cycle would not be charged extra so you would not be out of pocket. Reassuringly, a number of recent large scale studies show that the chance of having a baby is the same (or potentially even higher) with a freeze-all compared to fresh embryo transfer approach. There is also a significantly lower risk of developing the IVF complication of OHSS in freeze-all cycles.
For patients who are currently in a Frozen Embryo Transfer cycle, but who have not yet had the embryos thawed, we will discuss options with you. You could proceed on to thaw and embryo transfer, or opt to delay the thaw and restart a FET cycle at no extra cost in the future.
We can assure you that we hope to be able to restart new treatment cycles as soon as possible and will be closely monitoring National and International guidelines and studies. Any updates will be posted on this webpage.
Please contact your clinic if you wish to discuss your personal situation. Please do not come to the clinic if you have developed a fever or new persistent cough, or are in self-isolation. Contact NHS 111 if you are unsure.
Cancelling treatment due to infection and/or isolation
The Fertility Partnership has robust systems in place to minimise the effects of the virus and public health measures on our patients and their treatments. Staff wash their hands frequently, surfaces are regularly sanitised, and foot-fall in the clinics is being minimised to that necessary. Team working structures are in place and staff areas zoned where possible. We are also able to move staff between our multiple IVF clinics as necessary in order to keep operations flowing.
If you have a positive coronavirus test, or are told to self-isolate during treatment (before egg collection for fresh IVF, before embryo transfer for a frozen cycle) then we will cancel this cycle and undertake a future one at no extra cost. We will refund the cost of used drugs. If you have a positive test or are told to self-isolate after the egg collection then we will freeze your embryos as part of your treatment cycle, and then undertake your first frozen replacement cycle at no extra charge.
If you have a positive test for coronavirus, or are told to self-isolate, then we ask you wait 28 days until starting your treatment drugs. This is also the situation for egg or sperm donors. Please discuss your specific situation with your clinic.
Please note this is an evolving situation and we will update you as we have more information.
We are encouraging patients to have telephone or skype consultations as an alternative to face to face when and where possible.
Appointments requiring clinic visits such as scans, consents, procedures etc will be continuing as normal
Please help us to reduce risks by using the alcohol gel provided at reception when entering the clinic and by washing your hands frequently
We are here to support you during this uncertain time. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or would just like to talk with someone about your options.
Dr Tim Child
Group Medical Director, The Fertility Partnership