On March 17, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine issued a sweeping guideline, calling for US-based fertility centers to suspend all patient treatment cycles and non-urgent gamete cryopreservation in the face of the novel coronavirus outbreak. This is an unprecedented guidance- even the Zika virus did not earn a universal recommendation for cessation of all fertility treatment. This declaration has left many couples adrift, scared about the spreading virus, but also afraid the disruption in their care may result in a delay of treatment. In cases where age is a factor, this can be especially stressful. ESHRE, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology released a similar warning on March 13th.
There has been some public discord, as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has not released similar warnings about unassisted reproduction at this time- in contrast to the Zika outbreak, when everyone was receiving similar advice regardless of method of conception. It should be noted that on March 12, ASRM stated that coronaviruses are unrelated to the ZIKA virus.
“It is not the intent of any agency to single out those with infertility. While it is a true statement that we don’t know enough about the effects of COVID-19 on early pregnancy, we also don’t have enough alarming data at this time about first trimester pregnancy as we did with Zika. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology published a statement on March 23: “No one providing your care believes that any fertility treatment is elective. Infertility is a disease, and treatment of infertility is medically necessary. There is a distinction between a treatment that cannot be postponed even for a few days (such as surgery for a ruptured appendix), and treatment that is time sensitive and extremely important (such as IVF) but not a medical emergency. Unfortunately, there is not a universal definition and we have seen many misleading terms used, even by state public health agencies.
We know that other important non-emergency treatments are also being postponed during this pandemic. Fertility treatment is not being singled out. Orthopedic surgery, eye surgery, kidney stone procedures, dental procedures, and many other treatments are also being postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
If you have questions about infertility treatment options, please contact us for a free phone consultation.