The three major professional societies leading infertility and reproductive medicine have issued a joint statement on providing fertility care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In their guidance document entitled COVID-19 and Human Reproduction, The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS), and the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) call for the selective resumption of fertility services following successful mitigation strategies in some areas and emergence of additional data.
Dr Edgar Mocanu, president-elect of IFFS, told BioNews: 'Infertility is a WHO recognised disease, with major physical, psychological, personal, economic and social impact. The IFFS observed the current pandemic and initiated a publicly accessible and free COVID-19 Resource Centre, aiming to collate published data on the impact of disease upon reproductive health, for the benefit of our member Societies and in order to inform practice. IFFS has joined forces with the ASRM and ESHRE to reaffirm its belief that fertility care is an essential service and that resources should be made available to enhance the understanding of COVID-19 as it pertains to reproduction, pregnancy, and the impact on the fetus and neonate.'
The document also lays out ten principles for reproductive medicine care at this time. 'During the pandemic', it states, 'reproductive medicine professionals should continue to:
- Advocate for the well-being of patients.
- Monitor local conditions, including prevalence of disease, status of government or state regulations, and availability of resources.
- Implement proactive risk assessment within their practices.
- Prioritise care and judiciously allocate use of limited resources using medical criteria.
- Counsel patients about all options, including deferring evaluation and treatment.
- Adhere to active risk mitigation strategies to reduce the risk of viral transmission.
- Develop clear and codified plans to ensure the ability to provide care while maximising the safety of their patients and staff.
- Remain informed and stay current regarding new medical findings.
- Develop or refine robust emergency plans.
- Be prepared to interrupt medical treatment if conditions warrant discontinuation.
The report finally also calls on reproductive medicine practices to continue to gather data and help further COVID-19 research, which may be of use in this and future pandemics. Dr Cristina Magli, Chair of ESHRE, told BioNews 'The statement makes clear that much remains unknown about COVID-19 infection, especially in reproduction. By setting out areas where research is needed, ASRM, ESHRE and IFFS declare their intention to collaborate in monitoring the effects of the disease on reproductive cells and pregnancy, and to gather data on both maternal and child outcomes.'