Covid-19 Fertility and Pregnancy
By Andreia Trigo RN BSc MSc
Updated: 23 March 2020
If you have been trying to conceive or have recently become pregnant, you may be feeling anxious about the possible impact of coronavirus. The fact is that very little is known about the impact of COVID-19 on reproduction and pregnancy. In this article we want to give you the most recent knowledge and links to trustworthy sources of updates.
I have been trying to conceive naturally. Should I stop during the covid-19 outbreak?
We understand that many couples have been trying to conceive for a long time, and the idea of postponing their journey to baby is daunting. As this is a new virus, we are still learning about its impact on fertility and pregnancy.
Recent guidance advises patients (see below - link 2) who are likely to have covid-19 (fever and/or cough, shortness of breath and either exposure to a confirmed case or positive test result) to avoid a pregnancy.
If you get pregnant, and catch coronavirus afterwards, there is also no data to suggest that you are at risk of miscarriage, pregnancy loss or transmitting the virus to the baby (link 3).
I am receiving fertility treatment. What should I do?
British Fertility Society has updated their guidance (link 2) and it is expected that clinics will now be working to suspend treatments for the time being. This is in line with government measures to prevent the covid-19 epidemic from worsening.
Fertility clinics always prioritise keeping patients, their gametes, embryos and staff safe. In this outbreak, they are expected to maintain a minimum service, keep an open communication with patients for advice and reassurance, and minimise their impact on NHS resources.
I am pregnant. Should I be worried?
If you are pregnant and get coronavirus, you are not likely to feel worse than the general population. Most people feel mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms. Most severe symptoms seem to occur in people with weakened immune systems, long term conditions or old age (link 3).
However, as a precaution, pregnant woman were placed in a vulnerable group by the Chief Medical Officer on 16th March. This means pregnant women have been advised to reduce social contact through social distancing measures. This is not because pregnant women are more likely to catch coronavirus, but because pregnancy can alter the body’s response to viral infections (link 3).
Taking the information available so far, you are not at increased risk of miscarriage. Evidence also shows that some women who were pregnant and had coronavirus, delivered healthy babies that were not infected (link 3)
How can I reduce my risk of getting coronavirus?
In order to reduce your risk of catching coronavirus (links 5,6,7):
- wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
- always wash your hands when you get home or into work
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus
- only travel on public transport if you need to
- work from home, if you can
- avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas
- avoid events with large groups of people
- use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services
How do I know if I have coronavirus?
Look for symptoms that could indicate a possible infection (links 5,6,7):
- high temperature
- new, continuous cough
If you have symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has coronavirus (links 5,6,7):
- Stay at home for 7 days
- If you are receiving fertility treatment or are pregnant, contact your medical team
- Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
- You do not need to contact NHS 111.
- You do not need a test for coronavirus.
You should use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service, or call NHS 111 if:
- you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
- your condition gets worse
- your symptoms do not get better after 7 days
Where can I keep up to date with coronavirus guidance?
Link 1 - HFEA
Link 2 - British Fertility Society
Link 3 - Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Link 4 - American Society for Reproductive Medicine
Link 5 - NHS
Link 6 - Gov.uk
Link 7 - World Health Organization
Andreia Trigo RN BSc MSc is a multi-awarded nurse consultant, author and TEDx speaker. Combining her medical experience and her own infertility journey, she developed unique strategies to help people undergoing similar challenges achieve their reproductive goals. Her mission is to improve accessibility to fertility care and support worldwide at minimal cost to populations. She is the founder of the Enhanced Fertility Programme, the evidence-based programme that improved help for fertility, currently in use by several clinics and patients worldwide.