Most of IVF clinics all around the World had stopped treating patients and all the services were suspended when the lockdowns began.
On March 14, 2020 as a precautionary measure ESHRE advised that “all fertility patients considering or planning treatment, even if they do not meet the diagnostic criteria for COVID-19 infection, should avoid becoming pregnant at this time”.
On March 17, 2020 ASRM published guidance on fertility case during the COVID -19 pandemic calling for suspension of new treatment cycles, cancellation of all embryo transfers as well as elective surgeries.
On March 24,2020 FSA (Fertility Society of Australia) updated the statement recommending all patients who are planning to start fertility treatment consult with treating specialists to discuss the possibilities of postponing their treatment.
US, UK, Australia, Russia… and other countries all around the planet as one sang the same song.
Millions of couples who were in the process of preparing for stimulations, embryo transfer have just been canceled. For those who were at their late 30th this measure was too heartbreaking and devasting. Infertility treatment was considered as non-urgent, which raised hundreds of disagreed patents, doctors, fertility societies. Who in the end decides – to treat or not to treat? Patients, struggling for their last chance; doctors pushed by investors; government, prioritizing more urgent cases, society?
In many cases patients are asking their doctors to go on with the treatment, they take all the responsibility, explaining that like “no one knows when lockdowns are going to be lifted, no one knows if my eggs will be appropriate for the fertilization in a month, or whether I will have eggs at all” If She is 40 now, she may still have a chance to conceive in the natural cycle IVF, or with mild stimulation and get one perfect embryo for the transfer. But her chances are melting daily, every cycle may appear the last one, every egg may become the happiest. Even having conflicting feelings some patients would prefer to go on till the goal is reached.
Norbert Gleicher, the Head of the Center for Human Reproduction: “There are distinct patient groups where a delay of 3 months can make a lot of difference”, – saying about the irresponsibility to close IVF centers during the COVID -19 pandemic. He suggests the infertility patients as well as the cancer patients should proceed with the treatment without any delay.
The main concern is definitely – what is going to be with pregnancy and babies, will the pandemic affect the baby development, will the vertical way of transmission from mother to child take place, will mothers be able to breastfeed?
Most of these questions will be gradually replied with the time being when babies will come to this World. According to the WHO data – pregnant women are not at a higher risk of getting coronavirus, therefore minding all the precautions minimizing contacts, social distance, self-defense with masks, sanitizers, washing hands etc. – they have absolutely the same chances to give a birth to a healthy child on the due date.
What else facts seem to have evidence?
- The sperm quality may get poor, temporary reducing the fertility for several months
- Premature delivery is more likely in women who become ill with COVID19
- The vertical transmission of the virus has been reported, however severe cases of COVID-19 in infants has not been announced.
- Breast milk is not containing the virus, therefore breastfeeding should be continued, however, if the mother is infected, she should use a help of someone healthy, feeding baby by strained milk.
Some good news had arrived recently, clinics have now reopened, definitely, the situation is different at each State, however, patients gradually start planning their IVF treatments.
If your State has not reopened IVF clinics yet, there are some tips which can help you to cope with the COVID-19 meanwhile:
- Fight against your obesity – It is an absolute fact that BMI more than 30 reduces your potential chance for successful treatment, causes miscarriages and pregnancy complications. Daily exercises, at least 30 minutes of stairs stepping, squats, skipping rope – all these you can do even at home. Eat 5-6 times with a small portion, fewer carbs, more protein, and fiber. Exclude sugar and bread.
- Fertility supplements – Vitamin C, E, D, Folic acid (B9), natural antioxidants, omega-3,6 acids, and zinc are very much important for your fertility system.
- Reproductive specialists imperatively suggest quitting smoking and any alcohol consumption.
- Take care of your emotional and psychological health; talk about your fertility issues with your partner, share your concerns and worries, do yoga together. Being close to each other physically and emotionally is important for both of you.
- Stay in contact with your doctor or fertility nurse, all of them are available now by video- meetings, do not hesitate to ask for a connection if you really in need.
They say after this pandemic the World will never stay the same as before, we believe the wish of making families will even grow, cause our families are our everything, despite all the restrictive measures.