Fertility patients who have recovered from COVID-19 have the same chance of conceiving that they did before they were infected, according to a small study.
The research, presented at the meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology 2021 looked at levels of anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) as a marker for ovarian reserve. AMH is widely used to predict how patients are likely to respond to ovarian stimulation as part of IVF treatment. Patients who had recovered from COVID-19 had their AMH levels re-measured and compared to their results from before they became infected.
'The data showed no variation in AMH levels before and after SARS-CoV-2 infection, and we could assume that the chances of success in their fertility treatment remained intact,' said Dr Maria Cruz Palomino from IVI Madrid in Spain, who presented the research.
The study classified the 36 patients according to their AMH levels as likely to be low responders (AMH levels of 1ng/ml of blood or less) to ovarian stimulation or normal responders (greater than 1ng/ml). In samples taken less than six months later – after the patients had COVID-19 – those in the normal responder group showed on average a decrease in AMH levels, but not enough to reclassify any individuals as low responders. In the low responder group, the values before and after infection were very similar.
Dr Palomino cautioned that the decrease in AMH levels in the normal responders could not necessarily be attributed to coronavirus infection and that for all the patients involved 'we could assume that the chances of success of fertility treatment remain intact.'
The researchers wanted to investigate the effect of COVID-19 on ovarian reserve because the ACE2 receptor, which the SARS-CoV-2 virus uses to invade host cells, is widely expressed in ovarian tissue, and throughout the female reproductive system. As such, there was concern that infection with the virus could disrupt fertility.