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COVID-19 and fertility treatments: What you need to know

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We are living in an unprecedented time and it’s safe to say the emergence of COVID-19 has resulted in many unforeseen changes. Some of those changes are bringing forth more questions than answers, especially for women who are trying to become pregnant, in the fertility treatment process or thinking about beginning fertility treatments.

This pandemic is difficult for many, and we understand this time can be even more stressful for women who are in the midst of their infertility journeys. It’s important to be gentle with yourself and reach out to your provider for recommendations on your specific case as we are still here to offer guidance and support.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Canadian Fertility Society and the European Society for Reproduction and Embryology have all recommended that at this time, we do not perform treatments that may result in a pregnancy. This includes embryo transfers, intrauterine inseminations (IUI) and starting IVF cycles. The primary reason for this is that we just don’t have enough information concerning how COVID-19 affects pregnancy yet. 

Pregnancy suppresses the immune system and as a result, all viral infections tend to have worsened outcomes in pregnant women. Because of the limited data and experience with other viral infections of pregnancy, we can avoid placing women at an increased risk by temporarily pausing all fertility treatments.

At this point, there are no specific recommendations for women who are pregnant, either spontaneously or after fertility treatment. We do encourage all pregnant women to continue to follow CDC guidelines, including being more vigilant by practicing proper hand-hygiene and avoiding places that increase the risk of exposure. You should contact your OB/GYN if you develop a cough, sore throat, fever or any other flu-like symptoms.  

Many women may be wondering when they can start their fertility treatments again. Unfortunately, we don’t have a concrete answer at this time. In some parts of the world, there is a phase of increased occurrence of COVID-19 and then decreasing occurrence, or the curve we are hearing about. This cycle is about eight to 12 weeks long. In a country as large as the United States, these cycles can start at different times, therefore making it more difficult to predict exactly when it may be safe to resume fertility treatments. Our hope is that as our community continues to diligently practice social distancing and the CDC recommendations listed above, we will begin to see the curve flatten.

We know you will continue to have questions, so we are monitoring the latest developments and waiting for guidance from multiple sources to ensure we resume caring for our Family Fertility Center patients when it is safe to do so. We look forward to continuing to partner with you on your fertility journey and are committed to sharing the latest updates on our COVID-19 website, texaschildrenscoronavirus.org.