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COVID-19: IVF to resume after restrictions eased

Advice about IVF and fertility during the coronavirus crisisHere at the Bub Hub we’ve always made it our aim to provide sensible, practical and up-to-date advice to parents and parents-to-be so they can make informed decisions when it comes to fertility, pregnancy, and raising children.

Now, more than ever before, parents need a clear voice amid the confusion. And with that in mind, we’ve consulted a range of experts to discuss the only thing many of us are thinking about at the moment — the coronavirus or COVID-19.

Here’s the latest advice about the impact of COVID-19 on IVF in Australia.

Elective surgeries for IVF can now resume after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the easing of COVID-19 restrictions on non-essential surgeries in Australia.

This is welcome news for the many Australians who about to embark on their IVF journeys.

IVF clinics across the country will reopen after ANZAC Day but will still have to take into account social distancing requirements to continue to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Australia-wide IVF clinic Genea will be among those reopening and will continue to require strict social distancing measures to reduce the risk of infection among patients and staff.

Genea Medical Director, Associate Professor Mark Bowman says fertility specialists and nurses will consult via video and all necessary clinic and day surgery visits will be timed carefully to reduce the number of visitors at one point in time.

“it’s been a devastating few weeks for those who wanted to commence treatment but as always, Genea adheres and respects the advice and requirements of the government”, he says.

“It is wonderful news we can open our doors again and support those longing for a family, many of our patients don’t have time to waste.”

On March 25, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that all non-urgent elective surgery would be postponed.

This left many people who had started IVF, or were about to start IVF, wondering what this meant for them.

The Fertility Society of Australia — the peak body for reproductive practitioners — advised that anyone who had begun an IVF cycle before 11.59pm on April 1 would be able to continue that cycle.

“It has been proposed that certain categories of elective surgical procedures need to be scaled back or suspended in order to preserve resources such as anaesthetists, nurses, ICU or HDU beds, ventilators but also personal protective equipment (such as surgical masks, face shields or goggles, gloves etc) for when (or in case) the number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospital care exceeds the current capacity,” they said.

“The Fertility Society of Australia therefore recommends that, in the interest of public safety, patients who are planning to start fertility treatment consult with their treating specialist and discuss the appropriateness of postponing their treatment.

“The Fertility Society of Australia recognises that there may be medical circumstances where delaying treatment may not be advisable and treating specialists should advise their patients if there are medical grounds to commence treatment now.”

What about if you do fall pregnant? Is there a risk at this time?

The good news, according to obstetrician Dr Brad Robinson, is that, from what we know so far about coronavirus, there is no increased risk for pregnant women and their unborn babies.

“The bulk of the research done so far is from a group of 19 women who were pregnant and delivered in China.

“What was found was that there was no increased risk of miscarriage, there was no increased risk of stillbirth and there was no risk of vertical transmission of the virus from the mother to the baby.”

How to look after yourself in these uncertain times

Trying to conceive can be stressful under normal circumstances so it is important that you monitor your wellbeing and be kind to yourself during this crisis.

Dr Bowman says patients should “lean on their support networks, talk to their family and friends, listen to the advice of their Fertility Specialist and fertility care team”.

One way you can find support is by joining the Bub Hub forum. It is a safe, moderated space where people come together to anonymously chat, ask questions and sometimes just vent. Our fertility and IVF sections are the most popular and supportive sections.

It is quick and easy to join the free Bub Hub forum.

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You can see all our coronavirus content in our COVID-19 Hub.

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