Should those with fertility aspirations hit the baby-making pause button during the coronavirus epidemic? Parentology spoke with Mark Surrey M.D., F.A.C.O.G., F.A.C.S., co-founder and medical director of Southern California Reproductive Center, about the safety of conceiving during COVID-19.
“The effects of the present pandemic are upon the gestational carrier, not the pregnancy,” Surrey, a leader in the field of fertility and reproductive medicine, including reproductive surgery and in vitro fertilization (IVF), says. “There is no known transmission of the virus to eggs, sperm, or embryos.”
Surrey expounds, “Therefore, the effect would be similar to any other severe infection such as pyelonephritis or pneumonia with concurrent sepsis. This includes predisposition to miscarriage or premature labor if later in pregnancy. The asymptomatic transmission does not seem to be altered in the pregnant state.”
Still, Surrey doesn’t think this is an ideal time to get pregnant, “At this time, pregnancy is not considered desirable, if optional, but the presence of a possible infection does not seem to indicate a medical termination.”
So should fertility treatments be postponed for now? The reality is many health care facilities have suspended elective procedures such as those involved in infertility treatments.
“Assisted Reproduction, such as IVF, is presently being reserved for urgent situations such as fertility preservation for oncology patients starting chemotherapy,” Surrey says. “There is much debate in our community if other indications such as advanced maternal age with low ovarian reserve should also deserve treatment now. Embryo transfers are now preserved (frozen) so that they are being delayed, as are most elective procedures. We hope for a rapid return to normalcy.”
Women who are past the decision-making stage and are already in the early months of pregnancy will want to take extra precautions to stay healthy.
One symptom of coronavirus is a high fever. Research has linked fevers in early pregnancy to an increased incidence of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. To avoid possible exposure, pregnant women should have other household members run any necessary grocery shopping trips. They may also want to discuss the option of telehealth prenatal visits with their doctor or midwife.
*Author Andrea Tran RN, MA, IBCLC is a nurse and lactation specialist.
Fertility Coronavirus: Sources
Mark Surrey M.D., F.A.C.O.G., F.A.C.S., co-founder and medical director of Southern California Reproductive Center
CDC: Birth Defects