COVID-19 and Fertility: Questions and Answers

03/17/2020

By: Amy Divaraniya, PhD 

We know during this global pandemic that trusted, and timely information is essential to making decisions about your health and fertility. For those of you planning your fertility journey, going through fertility treatments, or are currently pregnant, there must be many questions that are popping up. We’ve addressed some of the most common questions we’ve received from all of you. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact our team directly at: amy@oova.life or submit your question via the form below. Our team is here to support you in any way we can. 

What exactly is COVID-19? 

COVID-19 is a new coronavirus responsible for the recent outbreak of respiratory disease. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses commonly infecting people and animals. These range from viruses that cause the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). This novel coronavirus was first detected in China and has now been detected in more than 100 locations internationally. The disease it causes has been named "coronavirus disease 2019" and abbreviated "COVID-19".

Who is most impacted by COVID-19? 

All ages and demographics are at risk. According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), individuals at highest risk for severe disease include people aged over 60 years and those with underlying conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer.

Will getting COVID-19 impact my fertility? 

Very little is known about the impact of COVID-19 on reproduction and pregnancy. Currently, there is no data to suggest that COVID-19 impacts fertility.

I am about to begin an IVF cycle. Will it get cancelled? 

This is specific for every clinic, however, there is a strong chance that your cycle will be delayed. As of March 17, 2020, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommends that no 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 should be initiated. We recommend you discuss your timeline and plan with your clinic.

I am mid-cycle in IVF, what should I do? 

For those currently in an IVF cycle, the plan is to continue moving forward unless you are confirmed to have the disease or if you are at very high risk. You should address this with your clinic and they will advise you in what is best for you and your family. 

Are Clomid or Femara treatments affected by the new recommendations? 

From the recent American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommendations, patients currently being treated with Clomid or Femara will continue. However, the recommendation is to postpone any new treatment cycles of either medication at this time. 

 

Are pregnant women more likely to get sick from COVID-19? 

According to the CDC, there are no published reports that pregnant women are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 than other groups. In a report released by the WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19, pregnant women do not appear to be at higher risk of severe disease. 

 Should women be induced early to avoid overcrowded hospitals? 

There is not enough information to support early induction as it may have a negative impact on the baby and result in you being in the hospital longer than intended. Doctors are getting new information every day and we highly encourage you to make a birth plan with your healthcare provider.

I am planning on getting pregnant in the next year, should I delay my efforts? 

From the information currently available, achieving pregnancy and staying pregnant does not seem to be impacted by the coronavirus.

Is coronavirus linked to the ZIKA virus? 

They are very different viruses with completely different pathologies. ZIKA virus has clear implications for pregnancy and fetal development while coronaviruses do not.

Does COVID-19 transmit to the baby in utero? 

We still do not know if a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can pass the virus to her baby during pregnancy or delivery. Findings from a recent study involving a small group of pregnant women suggests that there is currently no evidence of vertical transmission in women who develop COVID-19 pneumonia in late pregnancy.

What happens if an infant gets coronavirus? 

Infants can become infected with the new coronavirus, but the severity of illness is less compared to adults. In an article published in JAMA, nine infected infants with coronavirus were tracked and did not become severely ill. 

What does "flatten the curve" mean?

"Social distancing and proper hand washing are our best weapons to fight the coronavirus pandemic currently. These measures can help "flatten the curve". In this term, "curve" refers to the projected number of infected people with COVID-19 over time. "Flatten the curve" means slower infection rates. This will reduce peak number of cases and related demands on hospitals and infrastructure. Hence, by strict social distancing and proper hand washing, you will protect yourself, your loved ones, and also give a chance to healthcare professionals and hospitals to fight COVID-19." - Dr. Deeraj Lingutla (Medical Director at Rochester Regional Health and Medical Advisor to OOVA)

What can I do to avoid getting COVID-19?

DO:

- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

- Cover your cough or sneezes with a  tissue or sneeze into your elbow. Make sure you dispose the soiled tissue properly in a garbage and clean your hands afterwards.

- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

- If possible, maintain at least 3 feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

- Social distancing - put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

AVOID:

- Close contact with people who are showing symptoms of illness.

- Touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, especially with unwashed hands.

- Crowded places and travel.

- Visiting your doctor or healthcare facility if you have mild symptoms. Call your doctor instead for appropriate action.

By: Lauren Haring, RN and Founder of Embrace Fertility

Is there anything I can do now while I'm stuck at home?

Yes!  With so much out of our control in the current state of our country (and beyond), focus on the things you can control.  Now is the time to concentrate on boosting your fertility from within to give your body the best foundation for success.  Whether trying on your own or waiting impatiently for fertility treatment to resume, it is important to find areas you can actively make decisions for yourself.  You can directly impact your fertility wellness through avenues of overall health and wellness including diet, sleep, movement, working on relationships and spending time on self-care. This too will pass, we'll get through it together. 

Am I the only one who feels this stressed and out of control?

No! This is an unprecedented situation we all find ourselves in - no adult in the US has lived through a pandemic of this magnitude and it's scary, among a thousand other emotions.  With fertility treatments mostly halted, a massive layer of deep emotions has been added on top.  It is completely normal to feel anger, sadness, grief, frustration, and so much more during this time.  If you find yourself being pulled down, please talk to someone.  It is vital to connect with your partner, a family member, friend, or fertility mental health professional you trust to support you.  Everyone is on high alert with stress weighing on them, give yourself a break and know this won't last forever.  

 

If you have any additional questions or need someone to speak with, please do not hesitate to contact our team or submit your question below. We are here to support you however we may through this uncertain and difficult time.