Due to the ongoing situation with Covid-19, health organizations have set up measures for Medically Assisted Reproduction Units worldwide. Embryolab’s Clinical and Scientific Director, Nikos Christoforidis, MD, FRCOG, DFFP, explains below what these measures mean for our women and couples.
What is the significance of the Covid-19 pandemic?
The World Health Organization’s decision to declare as a pandemic the spread of coronavirus SARS-2 and the Covid-19 disease has been based on the very fast and wide spread of the virus, as the disease has now spread in most countries around the world.
What are the special features of SARS-2 virus?
It is a virus that affects the respiratory system, which, in more serious infections, can lead to pneumonia with serious complications. The virus is easily transmitted by droplets suspended during coughing and sneezing, as well as by the – less than two meters- distance between individuals. Transmission of the virus by asymptomatic individuals is currently under investigation. The most vulnerable groups at risk of a Covid-19 infection are the elderly and those with a burdened medical history.
How does Covid-19 infection affect a woman’s attempt to become pregnant?
There is currently no scientific data relating the Covid-19 infection with fertility issues, although the time span is still short.
How does Covid-19 infection affect a pregnant woman and her pregnant fetus?
Pregnant women with Covid-19 infection are not at greater risk of health complications than the general population. The vast majority of women who get SARS-2 during pregnancy will have mild to moderate cold or flu like symptoms. Additionally, data regarding the effect of SARS-2 on the fetus, are reassuring as there is no evidence so far of intrauterine transmission from the pregnant mother to the fetus.
What is the position of international scientific organizations on assisted reproduction treatments?
International scientific organizations, such as the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the British Fertility Society (BFS), have all announced guidelines on SARS-2 virus and COVID 19 infection, based on which it is not recommended for couples to start an IVF treatment until the wide spread of the virus is restricted and the situation gets normalized. For couples who are under treatment at the moment, they may complete their egg collection and proceed to a scheduled cryopreservation of their genetic material so they can organise their embryo transfer at a later time. Similarly, it is recommended that scheduled treatments for cryopreserved embryo transfers are postponed for a later time.
How is my treatment at Embryolab Fertility Clinic influenced by the latest developments?
At Embryolab, and in full compliance with the guidelines of the National Medical Assisted Reproductive Authority (EHEA), we believe that it is to the couples’ benefit to postpone all scheduled treatments for a later time, once the spread of the virus is somehow contained.
In the meantime, for ongoing treatments, it is recommended that couples cryopreserve their genetic material after egg retrieval, while no endometrial preparation for transferring cryopreserved embryos is recommended at the moment.
At this point, let us emphasize that the data is dynamic and we hope all to be able to return to normalcy soon. Until then, however, it is important for all of us to show a high sense of responsibility, both by implementing all preventive measures for the Covid-19 transmission, as well as by supporting everyone whose treatment was cancelled due to this emergency.
Please contact Embryolab to discuss with us your treatment in more details. We are here to support you during this period, for your safety’s sake first, but also for everybody’s safety.
Nikos Christoforidis, MD, FRCOG, DFFP, Obstetrician Surgeon Gynecologist, Fertility Specialist, Embryolab’s Scientific and Clinical Director, Embryolab’s Academy Board Member
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