Fertility Treatment during COVID -FAQ’s
Many people considering fertility treatment during COVID-19 have a lot of questions about safety and the ever-changing situation.
Due to the uncertainty surrounding the effects of COVID-19, we have put together the following most frequently asked questions, with the help of Dr. Savelyeva:
1. Are pregnant women particularly at risk from Corona?
Being pregnant does not pose an added risk to getting Covid. The individual health condition and medical history of the pregnant woman are more relevant in order to assess her real risks. Factors such as obesity and underlying health conditions need to be taken into account for each pregnant patient before qualifying them as “at-risk”. Read more
2. Should I start a fertility treatment during COVID?
There is no contraindication to fertility treatment during the pandemic. Obviously, the mental health and ability to cope with the ’stress’ of treatment, in order to have positive results, are the most important factor. If traveling, planning, and going through hormonal stimulation affect a patient’s mood and tranquility to pull through the treatment, we recommend postponing until the situation is more stable. On the other hand, age is a relevant factor and if time is an issue, we are equipped to helping our patients have a smooth treatment even during COVID.
3. What are the special measures taken at PFC to minimize the risk of infection during Fertility treatment?
As a healthcare facility, we already operate under the highest hygiene standards. We have nevertheless implemented strict health and safety regulations since March 2020. We have established even more frequent cleaning and sanitizing of the working space after each consultation; have the necessary protection equipment for our staff; request patients to wear a mask and use hand sanitizers available throughout the center. Patients and doctors are encouraged to be on time for consultations as to avoid crowds in the waiting room. We check the temperature of every person at reception and request that they sign an affidavit confirming they have no symptoms. Patients are encouraged to take a covid test before starting treatment; this is in the best interest of a healthy pregnancy. Read more
4. Is IVF treatment safe during the COVID pandemic?
The pandemic has put a halt on many sectors of the world economy, and as such, it is normal to question if an ‘elective’ treatment such as IVF should be on your priority list. There is no contraindication to having fertility treatment at the moment. At PFC we follow the highest hygiene standards and prevention, and encourage patients not to postpone treatment during the pandemic but continue while taking the necessary precautions. Our Egg donor programs continue to operate without any interruptions, with Egg donors just as willing to donate. Our Embryo donation is equally operating during COVID without any issues, with the increased preventive measures during the donors’ qualification process.
5. What happens if I test positive for COVID during hormonal stimulation, prior to egg retrieval?
Planning a healthy pregnancy means eliminating or decreasing all risk factors as much as possible. This applies to both: natural conception and assisted reproduction or IVF. In light of this, we recommend that all our patients test for covid before starting treatment and ensure they are healthy. Not only do we advise testing prior to treatment but we also recommend that once treatment starts, the couple maintains social distance according to the official recommendation of their place of residence. They must take additional precautions to avoid exposure and risk the cancellation of the treatment. Given the short time span between testing prior to treatment and egg collection (10 to 20 days), it’s not likely for patients to get infected and develop symptoms. However, if that happened, and the patient didn’t test before treatment and developed heavy symptoms during stimulation, we will cancel the treatment and stop the egg collection, as this is a procedure performed under anesthesia and, like with any other infection, it’s contraindicated.
6. What if my partner becomes infected before semen collection? Can you use this sperm?
At PFC, all our programs include cryopreservation of a sperm sample. Since the pandemic started we have seen a dramatic increase in cryopreservation of sperm and social freezing in general. Our approach to treating fertility is rather conservative and on the preventive side so we have taken this time to counsel patients and bring awareness about the importance of preserving one’s fertility while they are healthy. Every new couple is advised that they travel to Prague as soon as possible to leave a sample while they are healthy and plan treatment with that peace of mind. By doing this, we decrease the risk considerably. If the patient tests positive shortly after having left the sample for cryopreservation we will not use this sample and plan treatment when we can be sure that the sample is healthy. If the patient tests positive shortly before providing a fresh sample for fertilization (and there is no cryo-preserved sample), we suggest to vitrify the oocytes and fertilize with healthy sperm at a later stage.
7. What happens if the woman is infected before or during the embryo transfer?
PFC recommends that anyone planning a pregnancy ensures they are healthy before doing so. If you are going as far as having fertility treatment, we recommend it even more. PFC’s philosophy is to maximize the success of every single cycle. We consult with each patient very carefully in order to prepare them for a successful treatment, and if we identify the smallest factor of risk, it is our commitment to take care of it before clearing a patient for treatment. This translates into our high success. Therefore, testing positive before or during embryo transfer means interrupting treatment. We prefer to vitrify the embryos for future transfer rather than going ahead under these circumstances. Once again, testing before the embryo transfer cycle as well as keeping the highest social distancing and preventive measures during treatment should offset this risk to a great extent. If the planned transfer was a Frozen Embryo transfer, from own IVF, egg donor IVF, or embryo donation, we will simply postpone the transfer for a future menstrual cycle.
8. Being over 40 years of age, should I wait for the corona situation to improve or should I not wait any longer and start the treatment as soon as possible?
At 40 years of age, time is an issue, and waiting is not an option. At PFC we are fully operational at the moment, we continue to counsel patients beyond this age to continue with their family plans and start treatment as soon as possible, be that IVF with their own cells or Egg donor IVF. Though we have seen increased travel restrictions around the globe, we continue to offer full support and treatment confirmation for patients to travel to Prague sooner than later. We continue to receive patients from overseas, from Europe, and all of this under the necessary care and assistance from our side. We will help with border controls, booking accommodation, accessing local services and transportation, etc. No matter how young and healthy our +40-year-old patients tell us they feel and look, it is our responsibility to bring awareness about the importance of the biological age of their reproductive cells when it comes to conception, a healthy pregnancy, and a healthy baby; and how the earlier they start treatment the higher their success chances will be, even during a pandemic.
9. What happens if travel is restricted or impossible due to Corona?
We keep our website and social media posts at PFC with the most up to date information. Our team of coordinators is fully up to speed regarding the easiest and safest way to travel from and to different countries. We hear each of our patient’s travel experiences and will share this information with soon-to-travel patients from the same location so we will offer full support. Travel is restricted at the moment however, moving to and from healthcare facilities continues to be an exception in the Czech Republic so it is always possible to come to PFC, Prague, for treatment. You only need to contact us and we will be happy to help. For the Egg donor program, we are equipped to receiving the male partner anytime to leave a sample and proceed with fertilization and embryo preservation (one day trip); a future Frozen Embryo Transfer will be planned when the travel restrictions have decreased (one day trip). For a patient’s own IVF, we will waive the first personal consultation and ensure the patient has the necessary online consultations with our physician to understand every step of treatment. She will also receive the necessary medication by post (or prescriptions to buy it at home), clear instructions every step of the process, and a dedicated contact person to be in touch with, in English, German, Italian, or French. Travel to Prague can be reduced to 5 or 8 days.
Prague Fertility Centre provides this advice and guidance, in cooperation with Dr. Savelyeva, for your information purposes only. This information is not intended to meet your specific individual healthcare requirements. This information is not a clinical diagnostic service either. If you are concerned about your health or healthcare requirements we strongly recommend that you speak to your physician.