COVID-19 - Q&A's for patients

ESHRE acknowledges that the current COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences for fertility treatments can result in a psychological burden for patients.
This Q and A list aims to provide clear information on the most frequently asked questions from patients.

For further information, we suggest you contact the professionals at the centre where you receive treatment to get their advice, to get their support and to answer all your questions with regards to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your treatment.

If you need additional support, you can contact your national patient organisation. You can find their contact details through this link

In an event such as the COVID-19 pandemic, a scientific society as ESHRE will be in the best position to formulate advice to centers and ART professionals on how to handle the situation. Taking into account all available information, to support the necessary reallocation of healthcare resources, and to observe the current recommendations of social distancing, a group of experts weighing all benefits and risks of such a statement concluded that a temporary stop of non-urgent fertility treatments is appropriate to ensure the safety of all patients and professionals.

Information is scarce, as the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is a new virus. As there is yet no proof that ART treatment and pregnancy establishment is safe, postponing treatment is considered a reasonable approach. The information available suggests that:

- viral infections can be more problematic for pregnant women
- some of the medications used in virus-infected patients may not be recommended during pregnancy
- the consequences of COVID-19 in pregnant women are not well known

With the data currently available, it is unclear whether the virus can be transmitted vertically from the mother to the unborn baby

Viral infections can be more problematic for pregnant women and some of the medications used in virus-infected patients may not be recommended during pregnancy

If oocyte or embryo freezing are available for the short postponement of pregnancy, and considering that it does not reduce the chance of pregnancy, deferred transfer has been proposed as a precautionary strategy.

A pregnancy resulting from fertility treatment is the outcome of a controlled medical procedure, which requires multiple visits to a medical facility and contact with other individuals for conusltations, ultrasound scans, blood sample collections and other procedures, whereas a pregnancy resulting from natural conception is not . An IVF pregnancy can be suspended or deferred, even after treatment has started; a non-IVF pregnancy cannot.

Please note that we recommend a temporary cessation of ART practices. Our recommendation will be adapted with further information and in line with further evolution of the pandemic.

ESHRE recommends a temporary cessation of ART practices and expects that IVF treatments will be restarted as soon as the coronavirus pandemic is under control and the risk of infection reduced to a minimum.. ESHRE will keep monitoring the situation and update recommendationsas soon as new information is available.

Any decision on restarting treatments will need to take into consideration the national recommendations on non-urgent medical procedures, the impact on the clinic's organisation and the safety of patients and staff. Please contact your doctor or nurse for more information.

Freezing eggs and embryos is frequently carried out in IVF treatments; excess embryos may be frozen for later embryo transfer, or occasionally all eggs or embryos are frozen as a safety measure. In both cases, studies have shown that freezing eggs or embryos has no negative effect on the chances of pregnancy or live birth.

Currently, there is no evidence of any adverse neonatal outcomes as a result of COVID-19 infection during pregnancy. As this is a new virus, it will take some time before information is available on its effects. For mothers infected with the virus and showing symptoms at the end of their pregnancy, reports are reassuring and most newborn babies seem to be healthy. Please contact your obstetrician or family doctor for more information on any precautions you can take.

Fertility preservation for cancer patients is considered an urgent procedure, as these patients have to undergo treatments which can usually not be postponed.