IVF during the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19)

All main CARE clinics are open. We recognise the most recent changes in government guidance communicated on 19th July 2021, and want to reassure both our current and new patients that we remain open, offering a very safe service. We have added key points from the HFEA statement at the bottom of this page.

Starting fertility treatment with CARE

We can help you to Be Treatment Ready with virtual consultations, nurse treatment planning sessions, at-home AMH and contact-free diagnostic semen testing. You can also sign consents and, if you've had the necessary tests, receive your treatment protocol online in your Patient Portal. You can read below about all the measures we have put in place to make sure we provide you with the best treatment and care in the safest way we can.

We will keep everyone updated through our website, our Patient Portal and our social platforms if any new government or industry body guidance is released.

The RCOG response to misinformation around Covid-19 vaccine and fertility

Dr Edward Morris, President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “We want to reassure women that there is no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 vaccines will affect fertility. Claims of any effect of Covid-19 vaccination on fertility are speculative and not supported by any data.

There is no biologically plausible mechanism by which current vaccines would cause any impact on women's fertility. Evidence has not been presented that women who have been vaccinated have gone on to have fertility problems.

For women in the age group where they may be considering pregnancy, the vaccination is only currently being offered to two groups - health and social care workers (including carers for older adults in residential care homes) who are at higher risk of catching Covid-19 and those with serious medical conditions who have a greater risk of severe illness from Covid-19. Pregnant and breastfeeding women who are eligible will also be offered the vaccine".

The British Fertility Society and Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists have also created a FAQ document all about the COVID-19 vaccines and fertility to answer common patient questions. If you have any additional questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and trying to conceive, please ask your local CARE team.

IVF treatment with CARE

Providing Treatment Safely 

The health and safety of all our patients and staff is our absolute priority. We have made lots of changes to the clinic environment, the way we provide treatment and also how we interact with you and each other to make sure it's as safe as possible for you having your IVF treatment with CARE.

To reduce face-to-face interactions we will

  • continue to offer virtual consultations and appointment with our doctors, nurses and counsellors by video call or telephone.
  • encourage you to use our Patient Portal to complete your consent forms, read key information and pay for your treatment
  • support you in being confident to administer any medications you need by giving you access to our new injection teach videos
  • offer a minimal-contact drop off service for sperm providers to bring their semen samples to the clinic for analysis, at an agreed time.
  • offer home kits for some hormone tests. We will post the kits and you take a tiny blood sample by pricking your finger, then post the sample back to the laboratory.
  • only ask you to come into the clinic for vital monitoring. We can reassure you that we won’t compromise your treatment by making these changes.

We recognise that remote appointments aren’t for everyone and we will continue to offer in person appointments if we can. 

Clinic layout

We’re adapting our clinics so everyone can follow the principles of social distancing as far as is possible.

Adapting protocols

  • We will use a type of protocol called a GnRH-Antagonist protocol wherever it's appropriate to your care. If your consultant thinks it is the best one for you at this time it will be explained in detail at your consult. You can also watch our video 'Explaining adapted protocols during COVID-19' on our COVID-19 FAQs page
  • We will ask you to postpone treatment if it involves any therapy that might compromise your immune system (eg.intralipid or steroid therapy)  

 

Keeping things safe in the laboratory

We have implemented a new “do not disturb” policy for embryos during the time they are cultured in our incubators. Now, if your embryos are in standard culture, rather than CAREmaps (time lapse), we will minimise the number of times we disturb them to assess them. There is some evidence that it may be better for your embryos if they are not taken out of the controlled incubation environment every day and we will be happy to explain this further to you.

Social Distancing and PPE

We will do our best to maintain social distancing wherever we can.  There will be times during your treatment though when you will have to be in close or direct physical contact with members of our team. To protect you and our staff during these interactions, we will be implementing a number of social distancing measures as well as the use of PPE where appropriate.

Screening

Before you come for your appointment at CARE, we will ask you these screening questions:

- Have you or your partner or a person in your household had any of the following symptoms in the last 2 weeks:

  • fever
  • persistent cough
  • loss of the sense of smell
  • loss of the sense of taste

- Have you been in contact with anyone in the last 2 weeks who has any of these symptoms or has been diagnosed with Covid-19?

If you answer no to these questions then you can be confident to start treatment. If you are uncertain about your answers or are worried about being a healthy carrier of the illness, please contact us for advice.

Choosing to Test

You can choose to have a test to check whether you have an active COVID-19 infection*. The test will tell you whether you have an infection at the time of testing and having the test may give you confidence to start treatment and that you won’t be wasting your medications.

If you do have any symptoms of COVID-19 and you decide against having the screening test then we’ll ask you to delay your appointment and until you have completed isolation as advised by the government.

 

* As CARE Fertility Chester is based within an NHS Trust site, all patients attending for a procedure will need to have a negative COVID-19 swab before admission. Please contact the CARE Chester team for more information and advice.

 

Health screening during your treatment

We will ask you to consider the health screening questions before every clinic visit. If you do develop symptoms during treatment, you must contact us before your appointment. To protect our patients and staff, we won’t be treating anyone with an active COVID-19 infection until they are fully recovered.

 

Hand hygiene

When you come to a CARE clinic, we’ll ask you to wash your hands when you arrive using soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  We recommend you also carry disposable paper tissues and that you capture sneezes or coughs in a clean tissue then dispose of the tissue in one of our clinical waste bins and wash your hands again. We will also make sure tissues are available at reception and in the clinic.

The HFEA Code of Conduct

Our regulator, the HFEA, has made it a condition that all patients sign up to a code of conduct before treatment. By signing this, you will be agreeing to avoid behaviours - that might expose you to risks of Covid-19 infection at work and in private, and to restrict your social interactions as the government advises. If you book an appointment at CARE, we’ll send you a form to complete, confirming you will abide by the code of conduct. This is a requirement the HFEA has imposed and is mandatory.

COVID-19: Questions and Answers

COVID-19 is a new virus, so there is limited scientific and medical evidence on how it affects pregnancy. However, UK’s specialist body, The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), has advised that there is no evidence that COVID-19 infection is any worse in pregnancy, increases the risk of miscarriage or pregnancy complications. The RCOG have also advised that there is no evidence of babies being born with harm as a result of COVID-19 infection, and the UK Government has not advised people to avoid becoming pregnant. For these reasons, we decided to start offering fertility treatments again.

We hope this reassures you, but we of course realise that you may have your own personal reasons for wanting to delay becoming pregnant. If you are worried, please speak to the team at your CARE clinic, and we will help you explore your options, including the possibility of creating and freezing embryos for when you feel ready for a frozen embryo replacement cycle.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation guidance published on 30th December 2020 advises that those who are trying to become pregnant “do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination”. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation guidance adds that “there is no known risk associated with giving non-live vaccines during pregnancy. These vaccines cannot replicate, so they cannot cause infection in either the woman or the unborn child.” There is no advice against male partners having the vaccine. If you have any questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and trying to conceive, please ask your local CARE team.

Patients will not need to have a COVID-19 test before resuming treatment*. We will ask everyone visiting COVID-19 screening questions to minimise any potential risk to our patients. You can access COVID-19 testing through the NHS, or we can offer you a test to check whether you have the COVID-19 infection. It’s up you whether to take this test, but it may help you feel confident in starting treatment, as you can then be sure you won’t be wasting your medications.

 

* As CARE Fertility Chester is based within an NHS Trust site, all patients attending for a procedure will need to have a negative COVID-19 swap before admission. Please contact the CARE Chester team for more information and advice.

 

For answers to more of your questions, visit our Fertility treatment and coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs blog.

How you can 'Be treatment ready’ 

 

If you would like information about treatment with CARE, please call our patient enquiry team on 0800 564 2270 

The following services are immediately available

  • Virtual consultations via Skype: Our specialist fertility doctors are available for online appointments to discuss starting or the next stage of your fertility journey. 

Schedule your Skype consultation

  • Our new patient enquiry team:  They are available to chat with you informally about your individual needs, give you information on treatments available at CARE and answer any questions you have. Call them on 0800 564 2270
  • Semen Analysis: We can now offer diagnostic semen analysis through a minimal contact drop off service at a time agreed with your clinic,  please contact our new patient enquiry team or your clinic to book.
  • AMH Testing: we can now send you an AMH test through the post, all you have to do it take pinprick of your blood and send it back for testing.
  • Online consent forms: On our secure, online Patient Portal, you can read the information related to your treatment and sign the necessary consent forms, whenever is convenient for you in the comfort of your own home.
  • Online protocols: If you have already had all your necessary tests, we will send you your protocol through the Patient Portal, so you can familiarise yourself and have time to think of questions before your treatment begins.
  • Online injection teach: Our injection teach videos (on our website, YouTube, and the Patient Portal) can teach you how to administer your medication in advance, and help you feel confident when you start your treatment.
  • Treatment – Pre-return checklist: We have designed a checklist which details all the steps you can take to help your treatment resume quickly. This resource helps you check the areas that need to be prepared for your treatment, such as the consultation, your protocol, AMH tests and consent forms. If you see that something on your checklist is missing, then you can contact your clinic to make plans to have this done as soon as you are able. Click here to download your pre-return checklist, or click the image below.

Our New Patient Enquiry Team

We know that when starting your fertility journey, especially at this time, you’ll have lots of questions.

Our New Patient Team is available to chat with you informally about your individual needs and concerns, and to outline the treatment options available at CARE. If you have any questions about a typical IVF patient journey, costs and how it all works, they will be able to answer your questions. They can also book your initial consultation, if you wish.

0800 564 2270 

Starting Fertility Treatment in 2021 – Live Q&As

Part 1 with Dr Victoria Sephton and Dr Amy Barrie, and Part 2 with Dr Mark Wilcox and Dr Alison Campbell

 

Thinking of starting fertility treatment? We understand you will have lots of questions about how we are keeping patients safe while continuing fertility treatment, and what patients should expect when starting IVF during 2021. In this Live Q&A series, our experts talk in detail about the impact of COVID-19 on fertility treatments, including answering your questions about COVID-19 vaccines, safety in fertility clinics, waiting times, and how your treatment might be slightly different during COVID-19.

Our patient portal

If you decide to have fertility treatment with CARE, you’ll have access to our online Patient Portal, which we’ll use to keep in touch with you at every stage of your journey.

Through this secure channel, we will first ask you to complete a detailed medical questionnaire and upload the results of any previous tests you’ve had. Your fertility specialist will then review all your responses before your first consultation to make sure all your appointment time focuses on next steps and how we can best help you move forward.

Throughout treatment, you will be able to use our Patient Portal to access all your documents and information videos, and to sign consent forms. If you’d like to know more about our Patient Portal or what to expect, call our New Patient Enquiry Team on 0800 564 2270, or Book a Consultation.

Your virtual consultation

We are doing everything possible to give you the best start to your fertility journey during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why our doctors are now conducting consultations via Skype. 

Your initial consultation will last about an hour, during which your consultant will share what they have learned from your medical history and test results if they are available, and talk you through your individualised treatment options. Your consultant will explain which further tests, if any, need to be done, and will also guide you through the steps of your expected treatment pathway.

There will probably be lots of information to take in during this appointment, but you’ll be given the details of who to contact at your clinic if you have any further questions.

Supporting you during COVID-19

We remain absolutely dedicated to making sure all our patients are fully supported, wherever you are in your fertility journey. Our Specialist Fertility Counsellors are offering free telephone and Skype appointments, and we are running online support events.

How can counselling help during COVID-19?

If the uncertainty of COVID-19 is making you anxious about your treatment, talking with a specialist fertility counsellor can help you feel more in control during this confusing time.

Peer-to-peer support

If you’d like to talk to someone who’s also going through fertility treatment, you can join us for a patient support event or get involved with our CARE Buddy scheme.

Finding out more

If you’d like to learn more about fertility treatments, our results, or the team at your local clinic, our website is a good place to start - we have lots of information and resources for you to explore.

How can I improve my fertility at home?

There is lots of evidence that taking control of your diet and lifestyle directly impacts your fertility health and your baby’s development – learn more about the steps you can take to improve your fertility.

How to support your immune system

Zita West, leading fertility and pregnancy expert, gives her recommendations for how to support your immune system with small tweaks to your daily routine that can be done at home.

Our CARE family

All of us at CARE are here to help you at every stage of your fertility journey. We care passionately about you and your future, and your need for family is at the heart of everything we do. We are here to support you and help you through this.

With love from CARE x