Your fertility treatment and COVID-19

We understand that our patients may be feeling anxious and worried at this time – and confused about the implications of the coronavirus on their fertility treatment. Please read on to understand how Newlife IVF is managing your care during the pandemic period.

What effect does coronavirus have on my fertility treatment?

Newlife IVF remains open and our fertility specialists, nurses and counsellors are all still available with most consults now taking place virtually (via telehealth or videoconferencing). However, while our initial advice was to proceed with treatment as planned, the Government has now released specific recommendations regarding fertility treatment, which means we cannot proceed with any new egg collections, embryo transfers or intrauterine insemination for the time being. Only patients who began their cycle before Friday 3 April may complete their cycle. This is to free up resources within our healthcare system, so our health services can cope with the increased burden of care related to the coronavirus.

Please note: Newlife IVF must follow directives from the Department of Health, as well as the policies of Epworth Eastern Hospital, and these are subject to change. Currently, any patient who has had close contact to a person known to have COVID-19 must self-quarantine for 14 days. This means that they can’t attend the clinic for any fertility treatment. The current definition of a close contact is:

  • Overseas travel from any country in the previous 14 days;
  • Spending more than 15 minutes face-to-face, in any setting, with a person who is a confirmed case, in the 24 hours before they showed symptoms or once they showed symptoms;
  • Sharing a closed space for more than 2 hours with a person who is a confirmed case, in the 24 hours before they showed symptoms or once they showed symptoms.

Further, any patient actually diagnosed with coronavirus will be managed by the Department of Health, and they will be unable to attend the clinic while infectious. Please refer to this self-assessment tool from the Department of Health to assess your risk (correct as of 16 March 2020).

What can I do while I wait for treatments to restart?

The situation is changing quickly. While we are not sure when these fertility treatments can restart, we recommend that you:

  1. Stay prepared: Treatment is likely to recommence with minimal notice, so ensure that you have completed your police checks and counselling, and that you have discussed and completed your treatment plan with your specialist. It’s also worth checking with your fertility specialist if you can undertake other (non-procedural) fertility treatments during this time.
  2. Stay in touch: Call us on Day One of your cycle.  We will be able to provide the latest information on whether your treatment can commence, and if not, keep you updated regarding the latest time-frames. It also gives us the chance to check in with you and see how you are going.
  3. Stay healthy: Exercise 3–4 times per week for 30–40 minutes (this is a good place to start) and eat well – we recommend sticking to high protein, low sugar, low carbohydrate meals.
  4. Stay positive: Follow us on Instagram and Facebook as we share messages of support and useful tips for how to take care of your mind and body during this period.

If I am having difficulty conceiving, should I delay seeking help?

If you are having difficulty conceiving, we still advise you to seek help from one of our specialists in line with our usual recommendations:

  • If you are under 35, we advise seeking help after 12 months of trying for a baby without success.
  • If you are over 35, we recommend seeking help after just 6 months of trying.

We can arrange a virtual consult or see you in our rooms with suitable precautions in place. If the treatment you require is currently unavailable due to the Government mandate, we can ensure all your pre-work has been completed, so that treatment can start promptly once services recommence.

If you are still unsure about reaching out at this time, join our weekly video chat series. Every Tuesday night at 6.30pm, our fertility specialists discuss a range of fertility topics via Zoom. For more information and to RSVP, go to our events page. Those who register and attend are eligible for a bulk-billed initial consultation.

What should I do during this period if I’m undergoing fertility treatment (if my cycle began before 3 April)?

Keep healthy by eating well and exercising – see our blog for useful tips.  You can reduce your risk of exposure by following these steps (DHHS advice, correct as of 16 March 2020).

What happens if I am quarantined during or before my fertility treatment (if my cycle began before 3 April)?

During your period of quarantine, you will be unable to attend Newlife IVF clinics for appointments, ultrasounds, blood tests or fertility procedures (such as embryo transfer).

If you suspect you need to self-quarantine or have been told to undergo quarantine, please contact our nursing team as soon as practicable by calling (03) 8080 8933.

While our first priority is to reduce the spread of coronavirus through our community, we will do what we can to facilitate your care and continue with your treatment, if it’s appropriate and safe to do so. For example, some appointments can be managed by teleconference, or home delivery of medications may be appropriate. Your fertility nurse will advise what is possible in your particular situation.

What effect does COVID-19 have on pregnant women?

It is difficult to be completely certain because COVID-19 is a new virus.  Our current observations are:

  • Pregnant women don’t seem more likely to get this infection
  • If a pregnant woman is infected, the symptoms seem to be no more severe than non-pregnant women
  • The vast majority of pregnant women are expected to experience only mild to moderate cold or flu like symptoms
  • There is no evidence of an increased risk to the pregnancy, such as miscarriage, prematurity, fetal abnormalities or any other complications.

Can I pass coronavirus on to my baby?

There is no evidence at present that coronavirus can cross the placenta and cause an infection during the pregnancy.

If I am diagnosed with coronavirus during my pregnancy, what effect will it have on my baby?

It appears that a maternal infection does not pose any additional risk to your baby.

I’m still worried – what can I do?

It is understandable to feel anxious at this time on top of the normal worries associated with fertility treatment and pregnancy.  Don’t feel like you have to cope alone. We are always here to help, and the coronavirus pandemic is no exception.

Please do not hesitate to call (03) 8080 8933 to speak to one of our team members or email [email protected].  We will then direct you to our fertility specialists, nursing or counselling team, as appropriate, for support and information.

This is certainly an extraordinary time but we will all get through it together. If you have any further questions, do get in touch!

Stay safe and take care, from Tiki and the rest of the Newlife IVF team.

#inthistogether

Disclaimer: all information in this post is correct as of 7 April 2020 and will be regularly updated as new information and advice from health authorities comes to hand.