June 16, 2020
COVID-19 and Fertility Treatment
Due to the ongoing situation regarding Covid-19, the HFEA have introduced measures for UK clinics. Our Group Medical Director, Professor Tim Child, explains below what this means for our patients:
How will my treatment be different?
Everyone at The Fertility Partnership has the welfare of our patients, and their pregnancies, foremost in our minds. To make treatment as safe as possible, we have introduced a number of changes. These are detailed here. For most people the treatment cycle will be the same as before the pandemic, with us focussing on your safety alongside success rates. If you have a significant underlying medical condition then we may discuss altering your treatment to maximise safety for you at this time.
How are patients being prioritised when the clinic opens?
We aim to treat all patients as and when they wish, regardless of whether they are NHS or self funded. If you are a current or recent patient you will receive a message via the patient portal about continuing your treatment journey with us. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via the portal, email or telephone.
If I catch Covid-19 before or during my treatment, would I have to cancel?
If you test positive for coronavirus prior to your egg collection, we would need to pause your treatment until you are well again. Current HFEA guidance is that people wait 28 days after recovering from Covid-19 before starting treatment. This is for the safety of you, your embryos, and those around you.
If you test positive after egg collection, any embryos will be frozen, giving time for you to recover before any transfer. Please be assured that frozen embryo transfer now achieves similar, if not higher, success rates than fresh.
If I catch Covid-19, am I putting my baby at risk?
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) have published up-to-date guidance on the risks of Covid-19 to pregnant women and their baby (see HERE).
In summary they state that:
- Generally, pregnant women do not appear to be more likely to be seriously unwell than other healthy adults if they develop coronavirus
- The large majority of pregnant women will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms
- As this is a very new virus, we are just beginning to learn about it. There is no evidence to suggest an increased risk of miscarriage
- Hospital Early Pregnancy Assessment Units (EPAU) may have different policies at this time when looking after patients
- Transmission of the virus from a woman to her baby during pregnancy or birth appears possible. However, this does not seem to cause a problem with the baby’s health after birth
- It does not seem that the virus causes problems with a baby’s development during pregnancy
- Government guidance on hygiene and social distancing should be followed to reduce the risk of catching coronavirus during pregnancy (and before!)
Will I still be eligible for NHS funding if my treatment was delayed due to COVID-19?
We have been working with our NHS partners, and many of them have chosen to extend the funding period by six months for those impacted by the closure of clinics. If you are unsure about your situation, please speak with a member of our team who will be able to advise you.
Are my stored embryos, eggs or sperm being looked after, and how safe is the clinic?
The Fertility Partnership has robust systems in place to minimise the effects of the virus and public health measures on our patients and their stored eggs, sperm and embryos. Staff (and patients) have their temperature checked on entering the building, wash their hands frequently, surfaces are regularly sanitised, and foot-fall in the clinics is being minimised to necessity. Team working structures are in place and staff areas are zoned where possible. All TFP clinics have embryology staff regularly checking the laboratory and freeze tanks, which are all linked to 24 hour monitoring. All clinics have members of the medical, nursing, patient services, counselling, embryology and administration teams working from home, and in the clinic as necessary. They are always available for patient calls and Skype consultations.
Has the ten-year storage limit to egg freezing been extended for me?
To ensure patients who have stored sperm, eggs or embryos that are reaching the 10-year storage limit are not be penalised by the suspension of fertility treatment, the Government has extended the period by two years.
If you have any sperm, eggs or embryos that are affected by this extension, we will be in touch to let you know. Every year we always seek permission to continue freezing and so please do respond to our communications.
Can I still have a medical, counselling or nurse consent consultation?
All clinics are continuing to undertake medical, counselling and nurse consent consultations for new and current patients. These can be undertaken by Skype or telephone. We are here to support you during this difficult time. If you have concerns and want to speak to us, please make contact with your clinic via the Patient Portal or email. If you are a new patient wishing to arrange for a medical consultation, then please contact your Fertility Partnership clinic of choice by email and we will respond ASAP.
Should I wear a face mask when visiting the clinic?
In line with Government advice you must wear a face mask when entering the clinic. Our staff will also be wearing PPE as per national guidelines dependent on the procedures that they are undertaking.
Please do not come to the clinic if you have developed a fever or new persistent cough, or are in self-isolation. Contact NHS 111 if you are unsure HERE
HFEA information for patients HERE
UK Government advice HERE
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists pregnancy advice HERE
We are here to support you during this uncertain time. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or would just like to talk with someone about your options.
Professor Tim Child
Group Medical Director, The Fertility Partnership
Last Updated: 16th May 2020