Coronaviruses are a very large family of viruses that affect both humans and animals. The type of coronavirus we are experiencing as a pandemic today is called COVID-19 and it only infects people. The main infections of the coronavirus are respiratory, ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory diseases. COVID-19 is an infectious disease that was unknown before the outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
According to the World Health Organization “The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness and dry cough. Some patients may experience pain, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and appear gradually. Some people become infected, but do not develop any symptoms and are not sick. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without any special treatment. People who have fever, cough, and breathing difficulties should always seek medical care.
Following the events we are experiencing caused by the COVID-19 spread, our IVF clinics FIV Marbella, Ovoclinic Madrid, Ovoclinic Barcelona and our gamete bank Ovobank, are following the measures taken by the health authorities to protect the health and welfare of our employees, patients and donors.
WHAT ABOUT MY REATMENT?
The correct storage of gametes and pre-embryos in our facilities is fully guaranteed, counting with a minimum maintenance service for the supply of liquid nitrogen in our banks that maintains the optimal conditions of storage of these cells, as well as the shipment of gametes to those collaborating centers that request it.
Why has my treatment cycle been cancelled?
The health alert issued by the Ministry of Health against the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic should not put patients or professionals at risk by making them leave the house for non-urgent medical acts. Although for many couples getting pregnant is a priority, at this time, health must prevail, so we must be cautious, minimizing the risks of infection and starting a treatment would imply leaving the house more than is merely essential. First of all, your safety is important.
I was mid-cycle and I have been told that I can finish it, but not transfer the pre-embryos, why?
A pregnant person is always a higher risk patient for almost any disease, among other reasons due to the impossibility, on many occasions, of being able to administer the necessary medication due to the risk to the foetus. In this situation, and knowing that SARS-CoV-2 is proving to be so contagious, the probability of being infected by the virus is quite high, even in quarantine. Performing the transfer of the embryos resulting from the started cycle will result in pregnancy if everything goes well and this situation would generate a patient at risk, and that is precisely what we want to avoid.
But, if I finally have cryopreserved pre-embryos, do they have the same guarantees as a fresh pre-embryo?
There are hundreds of published scientific articles that endorse the ability of vitrified pre-embryos in terms of survival and match their implantation potential compared to fresh ones. In fact, currently most IVF cycles carry out delayed transfers to ensure that the conditions of the endometrium (layer where the pre-embryo will nest inside the uterus) is the most optimal, taking into account that during stimulation, the endometrium is towed by the ovary which is the what we are treating.
And can I decide when I want to transfer the pre-embryos or use the eggs?
Once the state of alarm is lifted, both patients and the clinics themselves will contact each other by joint decision, to assess starting treatment when it is most appropriate and above all optimal.
Is there a limit to decide when to transfer these pre-embryos or use the eggs?
From the moment the state of alarm is lifted, you can decide when to use them, taking into account that pre-embryos or cryopreserved eggs can remain in this state for years.
If I was to be infected with coronavirus before I decide to transfer the pre-embryos, use the oocytes or re-start treatment, will my chances of achieving pregnancy be decreased, or will I be more infertile?
With the available data, and referring to other SARSs (previous coronaviruses that we have suffered), no decrease in fertility has been described either at the oocyte or sperm level. Likewise, it does not seem that the ability to become pregnant after infection is affected, although you must follow the precautions given by your doctor once you are over the illness.
And what if I get pregnant naturally?
The final situation is the same as if it would be should a patient transfer after an IVF cycle, although in this case it has occurred in an uncontrolled manner. The recommendation of ASEBIR to not carry out transfers at this given time comes from the uncertainty of a still unknown virus and for which we do not have scientific data, since we cannot corroborate that the result in a pregnant woman during an infection may be harmless for the patient or for her foetus.
In the event of a natural pregnancy, it is advisable that you stay in touch with your doctor or obstetrician so that he can give you the most appropriate recommendations for your case.
Updated information from the Association for the Study of Reproductive Biology