Covid and IVF image

COVID - 19 and IVF

It has been proven by research and has now become a common knowledge that fertility in both genders is on the decline due to a multitude of factors which are influenced by our lifestyle such as nutrition, stress, being exposed to organic pollutants, mobile radiation; the list goes on. Some of these can be managed and controlled and others can be trickier. As if our hectic lifestyle wasn’t enough to influence our fertility concerns, the advent of Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc and added to the despair of couples undergoing IVF treatment.

But now there is a hope of light at the end of tunnel with various preparations of the vaccines being made available to the common man. However, as is expected with any new or unfamiliar scientific development, there are concerns about its viability and safety for use on women who are already pregnant and/or undergoing IVF/IUI treatment. Couples are uncertain about its affect on the fetus or baby. The questions are many. Is it safe to go ahead for embryo retrieval or transfer during pandemic? Does the vaccine reduce fertility or cause harm in some way?

We have sourced out the answers to the above questions from the experts.

• Should one delay IVF treatment because of COVID?

Couples seeking IVF are in reproductive age group and generally do not fall under high-risk groups with rare exceptions. Hence, it is not required to delay IVF consultation and treatment only due to current pandemic situation. Safety measures complying with international standards are being followed at most places. Direct contact has also been minimalized through tele-consultations for the initial as well as follow-up consultations. Samples for blood investigations are being collected from one’s home. The residence location of the patient is also taken into consideration while choosing nearest labs and clinics for husband’s semen test and wife’s ultrasound examination. After completion of all investigations, couples visit the clinic for consultation and a treatment plan is chalked out and initiated. Air purity and safe ventilation is ensured by the special sanitation and air cleaning systems installed in the labs and operation theatres. Positive air pressure is maintained by HEPA filtration in most laboratories which guarantees infection control and air quality assurance. In conclusion these measures minimize the risk of transmission of COVID 19 and other infection causing microorganisms to couples, staff, embryos, sperm or egg.

• Does corona infection or vaccination impact your fertility?

Scientists haven’t come across any direct evidence that might suggest an impact of COVID-19 infection or Covid Vaccination on fertility. As a precaution from our end, all patients who opt for IVF or IUI treatment are tested twice, once when the treatment is initiated and second before the procedure. If the result of RT PCR test is positive, we cancel the treatment cycles and postpone it for next two months.

When considering taking Covid vaccine while undergoing treatment for infertility or by already pregnant women, we can refer to the results of a large research study from US which followed nearly 20,000 vaccinated pregnant women and there was no evidence of danger to the mother. Hence vaccination is safe for both groups and pregnancy need not be delayed after receiving Covid vaccination.

Given below are few facts that empower the couples facing the dilemma of taking covid jabs to take correct decision:

1. Several international organizations such as Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (RCOG), the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and World Health Organization (WHO) and even Indian bodies have recommended vaccination of women attempting pregnancy and those who are already pregnant, as the benefits outweigh the risks and severity of being infected from Covid 19 during pregnancy.

2. Covid 19 is not a live vaccine and it has no affect on the IVF cycle. As per the current reports and records of couples available, it is safe to continue with IVF treatment after being vaccinated as after receiving vaccine mRNA SARS-CoV-2, there was no difference in the earlier and later cycles (after vaccination) when it came to embryological variables and ovarian stimulation.

3. There is no impact of mRNA SARS-CoV-2 vaccine on ovarian reserve in subsequent IVF cycle or in the patients’ performance. The vaccine also not affect the baby’s or the patient’s health in any way.

4. One precaution that is required is the vaccine should not be taken during procedures like embryo transfer or egg pick up as the mild fever arising due to vaccination could be confused with mild fever that may occur as a result of the procedure.

• Will corona virus affect pregnancy?

Several studies convey that there is no distinction in the risk of Covid infection between a pregnant and a non-pregnant female. Also, there isn’t sufficient proof to suggest that the Covid infection can pass to the babies from the pregnant mother. In majority of patients, the Coronavirus wasn’t present in the breast milk or amniotic fluid. When considering all these facts, one can conclude that Covid 19 is highly unlikely to affect your pregnancy.

“The current times might be tough but the nature doesn’t halt in its course and so we are encouraged to continue in our journey of IVF and bring forth love and hope in our lives while exercising all precautions and care necessary.”.

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