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COVID-19 Advice for Patients

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
Q&A

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At Repromed the health and safety of our patients and staff is of critical importance us.

We also recognise that the current situation in regards to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is very stressful to all, especially our patients in active treatment.

To help alleviate some stress, below is what we believe to be the best medical advice at this time in relation to fertility treatment and the Coronavirus in Australia.

Please note that due to the rapidly evolving situation our advice following may need to change in the near future.

Q: Is it safe to conceive during this time in light of the Coronavirus?

The Fertility Society of Australia recommends “There is little information on the impact of COVID-19 on pregnancy. The number of pregnant women who have contracted COVID-19 and have subsequently delivered is small and the reassuring results so far, including no evidence of mother-to-baby transmission during pregnancy, must be interpreted with caution.”

The Fertility Society of Australia’s full statement can be found here.

Q: Is it safe to be pregnant during a Coronavirus pandemic?

Here we believe the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists statement on this topic is the best authoritive resource. An outline of their statement is contained below in italics.

The full statement can be found here.

At this time, pregnant women do not appear to be more severely unwell if they develop COVID-19 infection than the general population. It is expected the large majority of pregnant women will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms.

For women who are trying to conceive, or who are in early pregnancy, there is no evidence to suggest an increased risk of miscarriage with COVID-19. Furthermore, there is also no evidence that the virus can pass to your developing baby while you are pregnant (this is called vertical transmission). There is also no evidence that the virus will cause abnormalities in your baby.

Q: Can I still start fertility treatment during the Coronavirus outbreak?

At the present time the majority of Coronavirus cases have occurred in people who have recently travelled overseas, or who have had close contact with such an individual. While this may change with time as local transmission rates increase, we would ask that if you have been overseas to a high risk countries (see updates at smartraveller.gov.au) that you do not book on for treatment until you have returned home and are still well 14 days after returning.

Repromed will not allow patients to book on for a stimulated IVF cycle until this 14 day period has elapsed.

Q: Can my Fertility Doctor appointment be converted to a phone consult?

Yes, All appointments with doctors will be moved to phone consults were deemed appropriate. If you have an up and coming appointment with one of our doctors, a member of the Repromed Team will contact you (by phone and/or SMS) to advise you of this change. Your appointment day and time will not alter, it will simply now be held over the phone.

Q: Can my counselling appointment be converted to a phone consult?

All appointments with our Counselling Team will be moved to phone consults or Skype (or similar) were deemed appropriate. If you have an up and coming appointment with one of our counsellors, a member of the Repromed Team will contact you (by phone and/or SMS) to discuss your specific circumstances prior to your scheduled appointment.

Q: What if I am booking on for an IVF cycle and I am unwell with flu like symptoms and/or a fever?

Please let our nursing team know ASAP. We will plan to delay your IVF treatment by one month. While we understand this delay may cause stress, it is an unavoidable restriction necessary to minimise the chance of other patients and staff contracting Coronavirus. Cancelling early in the cycle is better than having to cancel your cycle later after many injections.

Q: What happens if I have already commenced a stimulated IVF cycle and become unwell with flu like symptoms and/or a fever?

Firstly please take your temperature, self-isolate at home and contact Repromed. If your symptoms are only mild “cold” like symptoms (runny nose and sore throat) and you have no fever (temperature 37.4 degrees C or higher) we may still proceed with treatment. However, this decision will be made on a case-by-case basis and we ask that you do not attend Repromed before discussing your symptoms with us.

Please note that medications such as Panadol and other anti-inflammatories (Nurofen etc.) may hide a temperature for 4 hours. As such, we ask that you take your temperature at least 4 hours after taking these types of medications.

Q: What happens if I am booking on for a frozen embryo transfer, intrauterine insemination or ovulation induction and I become unwell with flu like symptoms and/or a fever?

Please notify our nursing team at Book On. If your symptoms are mild and you have no fever we suggest that you self-isolate at home for 48 hours and we will then contact you to reassess your condition.

If the symptoms remain, or you have developed a fever, we will cancel the cycle and delay treatment by a month. If your symptoms have resolved we can still proceed with treatment.

Q: Is it safe for me to be taking immune suppressing medications (prednisolone and the like)?

Many of our patients are on low dose prednisolone therapy if they have evidence of an overactive immune system that cause implantation failure/ miscarriage, or as part of their adenomyosis treatment. While these treatments have been used extensively over many years with low risk, this risk does change during the time of a viral pandemic. There is some evidence that immune suppressing drugs like prednisolone may make it more difficult for you to fight off the Coronavirus if you were to become infected. Therefore, if you are on prednisolone we would ask that you contact Repromed and we may modify your dose, or decide to cease it all together, depending on your personal medical history and risk profile.

Q: What drugs are safe to take if I get a fever due to Coronavirus?

Paracetamol (Panadol) is entirely safe in pregnancy and does not harm the body’s ability to fight the Coronavirus. As such it is the first line treatment if you were to develop a fever in the next few months, irrespective of whether you have had a formal medical diagnosis of Coronavirus. Of course, it is also important to maintain adequate hydration (fluids) during times of fever.

Please do not use ibuprofen (Neurofen) or related NSAIDs to manage fever as there have been some medical reports out of Europe suggesting these types of drugs may limit your ability to fight the Coronavirus.

Q: Can the Coronavirus effect my sperm or egg quality?

It has been long recognised that a high fever, common with severe Coronavirus infections, can negatively impact on sperm quality. As such it is important that men who get a fever take paracetamol to minimise any increase in their body temperature.

Furthermore, we would suggest you consider delaying your treatment cycle by at least a month to allow sperm quality to improve.

If previous semen analysis have shown low sperm quality, it may be prudent to do a repeat semen analysis outside of IVF treatment to ensure that your sperm quality has recovered sufficiently before booking on for IVF or IUI.

At the present moment there is no evidence that the Coronavirus adversely effects egg quality. However, if you were to develop symptomatic infection during a treatment cycle we would cancel your treatment.

Q: Is the use of overseas donor sperm and eggs still considered safe?

For eggs and sperm frozen before the global Coronavirus pandemic there is obviously no risk. Repromed’s external providers of donor sperm (CCB) and eggs (ManorIVF) are currently reviewing their policies in light of the recent Coronavirus pandemic. At present they have reassured us that they are screening donors for symptomatic infection and will not be storing gametes (eggs and sperm) from donors with likely or known Coronavirus infection. Locally, Repromed has suspended our clinic recruited sperm donor program. In the short term egg donors will not be allowed to book on until we have clarity on the possible need for a shutdown.