COVID infection lowers pregnancy chances in women undergoing ovary stimulation.

COVID infection lowers pregnancy chances in women undergoing ovary stimulation.

Does COVID-19 Infection Impact IVF Success Rates?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects on various aspects of life, including reproductive health. A recent study suggests that testing positive for a COVID-19 infection during a specific phase of fertility treatment could reduce the likelihood of a successful pregnancy. This phase, known as controlled ovarian stimulation, is crucial in inducing ovulation during in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The study, led by researchers from Central South University in China, followed 585 couples undergoing IVF treatment. PCR testing was used to determine if either partner or both had a COVID-19 infection during controlled ovarian stimulation, and 135 of them tested positive. The findings revealed that couples with a COVID-19 infection had significantly lower rates of top-quality embryos and blastocyst formation compared to couples without an infection during this stage.

It is important to note some reservations expressed by fertility experts regarding this study. Dr. Lilli Zimmerman, a reproductive endocrinology specialist, emphasizes the need for further research on the topic. As COVID-19 is a relatively new infection, understanding its effects on reproductive outcomes, especially regarding IVF, requires more extensive and long-term studies.

The policies surrounding COVID-19 testing and procedures can vary across different healthcare systems and have evolved throughout the pandemic. Delays in IVF treatment can have downsides for patients, including age-related fertility decline and risks of ovarian hyperstimulation. Therefore, it is essential to consider individual circumstances and monitor the risks and benefits of proceeding with IVF treatment during a known infection.

The study’s retrospective nature utilized data from seven reproductive centers in China, covering the period from October to December 2022. Although the research indicates a negative impact on blastocyst development and quality in couples with active COVID-19 infections, the absolute difference in outcomes is not substantial. The study also suggests that the number of retrieved immature eggs does not seem to be affected by the infection.

Despite these findings, Dr. Lindsay Kroener, a specialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility from UCLA Health, points out that an active COVID-19 infection does not necessarily require cancellation of an IVF cycle. Decisions regarding proceeding with the stimulation and retrieval process depend on various factors, such as patient counseling, stage of stimulation, and center protocols.

However, it is crucial to consider potential risks and complications associated with COVID-19 infections during infertility treatments. For instance, procedures involving anesthesia might pose challenges for individuals with respiratory symptoms. Moreover, the risk of virus transmission to other staff members and patients should also be taken into account when making decisions.

While the study in question focused on embryology outcomes, it did not assess clinical outcomes such as pregnancy rates or live birth rates. Therefore, the long-term effects of COVID-19 on babies born from IVF cycles during active infections remain unknown. Dr. Zimmerman highlights the importance of comprehensive and extended research to determine these long-term outcomes.

Ultimately, the decision to proceed with IVF treatment during a known COVID-19 infection should be based on careful evaluation of individual circumstances and risks. Open communication with healthcare providers and adherence to standardized protocols and guidelines are vital.

In conclusion, while the recent study sheds light on the potential impact of COVID-19 infections on IVF success rates during controlled ovarian stimulation, further research is needed to gain a comprehensive understanding of the topic. The absolute differences observed in blastocyst development and quality emphasize the need for individualized decision-making based on patient counseling and specific circumstances. As the pandemic continues to evolve, it is crucial to stay informed and consult with healthcare professionals to ensure the safety and effectiveness of fertility treatments.

*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice.