COVID-19

COVID-19

COVID-19 Update – April 4, 2020

On the 2nd April 2020, the Victorian State Government issued a recommendation to all Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART) providers, that new IVF and IUI treatment cycles were not allowed to start until further notice. Our government specified that, for the moment, this ban extends to IVF thaw cycles involving frozen embryos.

These conditions will change as we learn more about how this Corona Virus is affecting our community and health system.

We will update you as restrictions on fertility treatments are lifted. Keep checking this page of our website, sign up for our newsletter and follow us on our @womenshealthmelbourne and @drraelialew social media channels for real time updates as they happen.

COVID-19 Update – March 25, 2020

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is affecting how fertility medicine is being practiced in Australia and the international community.

You can be confident that Women’s Health Melbourne are closely monitoring all developments and adopting recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Australian Federal Government, the State Government of Victoria, RANZCOG, and the Fertility Society of Australia.

Naturally our patients have questions about how COVID-19 measures will affect their treatments. We are focused on how we can minimise the spread of disease, while continuing to provide our patients with options to continue the best fertility treatment care. We are committed to advocating for our patients and helping you to make a family.

We offer telemedicine appointments for new patient consultations and review appointments.

While during the COVID-19 Pandemic, some planned elective treatments may need to be rescheduled, we will make sure that you are prepared and ready to progress your treatment as soon as possible. We are here to help you become a parent. We will use all of our training, science and human kindness to fully support you every step of the way.

At this time, we are proceeding to complete IVF treatment cycles for patients who are currently undertaking treatment and for urgent situations such as cancer fertility preservation.

We continue to provide a safe and hygienic clinic environment for patients who need to be seen in our office during their IVF, IUI, Ovulation Induction treatment or urgent gynaecology treatment.

The COVID-19 situation can feel overwhelming and stressful, especially if you feel that it delays your dream of having a child even longer. We will do our very best to offer you ongoing care and support whilst trying to conceive through clinic supported care. If your operative care, laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis and routine IVF care must pause, please make a review telehealth appointment to discuss the best way forward for your continued care. Revised, interim alternative treatment options may be suitable for your to increase your chance of natural conception as much as is possible.

Prevention & Treatment of COVID-19

If you have any respiratory symptoms, you will not be able to attend our clinic for face-to-face encounters:

  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever

If you have recently travelled overseas, been in contact with a COVID-19 case or diagnosed with COVID-19 yourself, you will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. By minimising face to face encounters and maximising the goals we can cover for you via telehealth, we will radically reduce the risk to all patients and staff of coming into contact with COVID-19.

Social Distancing

Please be advised that our clinic is implementing risk reduction policies. We ask that patients attend without additional support people or children. You will be asked to use hand sanitiser on entering our facility. Face to face encounters will be spaced to allow for a very low number of patients attending in rooms at any given time.

COVID-19 FAQs

Our physicians and staff are second to none and will go above and beyond to answer any specific questions you have. We are grateful that you have chosen Women’s Health Melbourne to guide and care for you. Please don’t hesitate to call our office to speak with one of our team members.

We’ll continue to provide up-to-date information on our website and via social media.

Q: Does COVID-19 impact fertility?

There has been no published data or information to suggest that COVID-19 impacts male or female fertility.

Q: Should I delay seeing a fertility specialist because of COVID-19?

We may not be able to progress to some forms of treatment like IVF immediately because of COVID 19. However what we can do is:

  • Make the correct diagnosis and find out why you re not getting pregnant
  • Plan a treatment pathway that is right for you
  • Prepare so that you are ready to commence active treatment as soon as we can.

We make families at Women’s Health Melbourne and would be honoured to assist you to move forward with effective care as soon possible.

Q: How does Coronavirus affect pregnancy?

Coronavirus is not thought to cross the placenta or cause birth defects in babies, however comprehensive data from women who have contacted Coronavirus in the first trimester of pregnancy is not yet available.

Pregnant women are fit and relatively young. They are not more likely to contract or suffer extreme complications of Coronavirus compared to same age non pregnant women. The advice given by RANZCOG is that women without complex medical problems wishing to conceive may safely continue to try to do so.

Coronavirus infection has been associated with premature delivery in a small proportion of patients who contact the virus while pregnant. Coronavirus can also cause prolonged high fever, which can be associated, regardless of the underlying cause, with an increased risk of miscarriage, feral abnormalities, preterm birth and stillbirth.

You should discuss your specific circumstances with your doctor. Feel free to reach out and make a Telehealth appointment at Women’s Health Melbourne if you would like to have our further advice based on your personal circumstances.

Q: Will IVF Treatments be on hold throughout COVID-19?

It is possible that IVF may be restricted during this time. Urgent cases will proceed. Fertility preservation for cancer patients will proceed. IUI, egg thaw and embryo thaw cycles (not requiring operating theatre resources or anaesthesia) are also more likely to be able to proceed. Stimulated IVF cycles requiring egg collection, where patients will not be strongly compromised by waiting may face treatment delay. If your IVF treatment plan has been affected by COVID-19, please contact Women’s Health Medicine to make a Telehealth revised plan. No out of pocket cost for your appointment will be incurred in this circumstance.

Q: Should I be worried about having sex with my partner in case they have Coronavirus?

There has been no studies to date showing sexual transmission of Coronavirus. However, in order to have sex, you have to get up close and personal, risking respiratory transmission. If your partner or you develop respiratory symptoms, self isolate and seek medical advice.

 Healthy people can keep having sex. Check out our blog on the best time to have sex if you are trying to conceive. Hopefully an upside to this crisis will be lots of babies arriving in 2021!

Q: Should I be trying to get pregnant during the COVID 19 pandemic?

The answer to this question is complicated, and you have to decide what is right for you.

What are the facts?

COVID-19 is a new virus. We don’t have data about pregnancy and neonatal outcomes from when mothers have suffered infection in the first trimester. We know SARS and other viral cousins of COVID-19 do not cross the placenta to infect babies in the womb or cause birth defects.

Data from China has not found pregnant women to be at higher risk of serious complications of COVID-19 infection compared to same age non pregnant women.

Regardless of cause, high fever during pregnancy can be associated with miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth and possibly birth defects.

We must consider the utilisation of health resources. Is trying to conceive now the right thing to do for you and your community?
The balance of this answer for different people may be different, depending on where you live and your individual circumstances.

Would waiting a few months to get pregnant, in your circumstances, impact your overall chance of success? If in consultation with your specialist, the answer is probably not, there is little harm in watchful waiting while the COVID-19 pandemic effects become clearer

If the answer is yes, continuing treatment while this is possible may be reasonable, and for now, in Melbourne, can be supported. We will ensure you are updated as our circumstances evolve.

Q: Are my eggs/embryos/sperm at risk of exposure to COVID-19?

Your eggs and embryos vitrified in our Melbourne IVF laboratory remain safe. We use the most advanced technology and comply with RTAC guidelines to ensure your precious frozen eggs, sperm and embryos are stable and protected.

Q: What happens if I am exposed to COVID-19 during my IVF cycle?

If you demonstrate symptoms of COVID-19, or if you are confirmed to have COVID-19, your cycle will mostly likely need to be cancelled. A decision of this nature is not made lightly. However we have a duty of care to you, our patients, our staff, and our community to protect everyone we can from COVID-19 exposure. If this unlikely event occurs and your cycle is cancelled because of COVID-19, your cycle will be bulk-billed to Medicare. You will not face out of pocket expenses.

Q: Will Melbourne IVF or Women’s Health Melbourne shut down for a period of time?

Gynaecology and Fertility Medicine are essential services. We do not intend to shut down. We have a dedicated team of clinical and administrative staff, committed to providing you with the most effective and safest care possible. Our day to day practice might look different, but our passion and commitment to your care endures.

Additional Resources

COVID-19 advice and information from RANZCOG

https://ranzcog.edu.au/statements-guidelines/covid-19-statement

COVID information FSA

https://www.fertilitysociety.com.au/home/fsa-statement-covid-19/

COVID Information Australian Department of Health

https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/

COVID PODCAST Knocked up

COVID information WHO

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

COVID information Royal Women’s Hospital Melbourne

https://www.thewomens.org.au/news/update-on-covid-19-from-the-womens-1603/