Don’t let COVID-19 delay your fertility treatment!

Couples facing fertility challenges during this time of COVID-19 have many extra concerns – including the risk of delaying treatment, fears of contracting COVID-19 during treatment, the effects of COVID-19 on a pregnancy, and misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and fertility.

To help you make the right decisions and get the treatment you need without delay, our team at Cape Fertility gladly share this information and advice, guided by SASREG – the Southern African Society of Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy, which serves to protect the interests of patients undergoing fertility treatment.

COVID’s Effect On Fertility

Understandably, one of the main concerns among couples struggling to conceive is the effect of COVID-19 on their already-compromised fertility. However, SASREG allays these fears, saying there are no scientific reports that suggest COVID-19 could affect fertility.

There has also been a great deal of misinformation circulating online about negative impacts of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Firstly, it is important to understand that it is impossible to get COVID from the vaccine, because it is an mRNA vaccine, and it does not contain live SARS COV2 virus. The vaccine will also not impact existing medical conditions. However, underlying medical conditions entail a higher risk of having severe complications from COVID-19. Getting the vaccine will lower your overall risk of illness.

Despite a great deal of incorrect information in the media, there is also no evidence that the vaccine affects fertility.

According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the available data indicate that COVID-19 vaccines do not cause infertility in women or men, citing a randomized blinded Pfizer-BioNTech trial in which a similar number of women conceived after receiving the vaccine as those who received a placebo. It also confirms that because COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are not composed of live virus, they are not thought to cause an increased risk of infertility, first or second trimester loss, stillbirth, or congenital anomalies.

SASREG says that there’s also no evidence that vaccination before or during fertility treatment will impact the outcome of treatment in any way. And, as the vaccine does not contain an actual virus, there is also no reason to delay pregnancy attempts after vaccination.

The British Medical Journal also reported that it was safe for people undergoing fertility treatment to be vaccinated during treatment. They urged patients, however, to consider the time in which they chose to get vaccinated because of the possible side effects in the first few days of getting vaccinated.

Contracting COVID-19 during pregnancy

The ARSM says that based on currently available information, pregnant women who become infected with COVID-19 do not appear to be at increased risk of miscarriage or other complications of pregnancy.

However, in order to minimize risks to themselves and their pregnancy, women who are contemplating pregnancy or who are pregnant are advised to get the COVID-19 vaccination.

This because recent studies have suggested that pregnancy is a risk factor for severe COVID-19 disease. It means that the risks of developing severe illness from COVID are higher for pregnant woman, and that in severe cases, pregnant women with COVID are more likely to need ICU care and/or a ventilator than women with COVID who are not pregnant. Furthermore, many women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy have additional risk factors such as obesity, hypertension or diabetes which may further increase the chance of severe disease from COVID-19 infection.

The best protection against developing severe illness from COVID is to get vaccinated. Both the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and Society for Maternal and Fetal Medicine (SMFM) have released statements supporting use of the COVID-19 vaccine in pregnant and breastfeeding women.

The British Fertility Society also stated: “There is no reason to believe that any of the COVID-19 vaccines would be harmful in pregnancy. None of the vaccines contain live virus and so there is no risk that the pregnant woman or her baby could get COVID-19 from the vaccine. No safety concerns have been found in research studies that have followed up more than 130,000 pregnant women after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination in the USA and Scotland.”

Delaying Treatment

At Cape Fertility, we agree with the position taken by SASREG, urging people struggling with infertility to continue seeking treatment even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Treatment was suspended during the hard lockdown, but clinics are now open. Particularly ‘high risk’ patients – whose chances of falling pregnant would be further reduced by delaying treatment – are encouraged to seek assistance without delay.

Whether the reason has been the fear of contracting COVID-19 or uncertainty about whether to first get the vaccine or not, delaying fertility treatment due to COVID-19 can further reduce the chances of a successful treatment outcome, with some studies showing a reduction in live birth rates in patients who have postponed treatment.

At Cape Fertility, we urge you to seek safe treatment instead of delaying treatment.

Where To Get Safe Treatment

Many couples who are struggling to conceive are not seeking treatment because of fear of contracting the virus. It is important to protect yourself by choosing the right clinic where you can be assured of safe treatment.

SASREG provides best practice advice to local fertility clinics to ensure the facilities are safe and have taken precautions to ensure the health and safety of patients and staff.
Cape Fertility is very proud to be a SASREG-accredited fertility clinic. Our team not only strictly adheres to these guidelines for the safety of our patients and staff, we are also proud to have contributed to their creation.

One of our fertility specialists, Dr Sulaiman Heylen, is currently the President of SASREG. Along with Dr Nomathamsaqa Matebese, also a fertility specialist at Cape Fertility, Dr Heylen was part of the team that created the COVID-19 best practice guidelines for fertility clinics in South Africa.

The emphasis of the COVID-19 guidelines is on ensuring all our staff and patients remain safe. This means limiting the number of visits to the fertility clinic and making sure that when patients do visit a fertility clinic, they will be as safe as possible.

Rest assured that we adhere to all safety and health guidelines at Cape Fertility. These guidelines include all standard precautions and preventative measures as required by the National Department of Health, as well as intensified cleaning and disinfection of common spaces. A mask and alcohol-based decontamination is required when visiting our premises and social distancing is maximised during all consultations and procedures. All staff members and patients must have their skin temperature measured every time they visit the clinic.

So, if you have already begun your fertility journey, you can now continue, knowing that you can do so safely at a SASREG-accredited clinic such as Cape Fertility. If you have not yet started your fertility journey, you can begin the process safely despite COVID-19.

The first step is always a consultation with a fertility specialist. Your initial consultation with one of our Cape Fertility specialists can be arranged via telephone, Skype or WhatsApp, so you can attend from the safety of your home.

Simply click here to contact us…  – we look forward to helping you commence or continue your fertility journey in the safest way possible!