What Prospective Parents Should Know About Family Planning and IVF Amid the COVID-19 Outbreak

With so much uncertainty in the world right now, it's only natural to worry about topics like family planning. And for those who were considering fertility treatments or are in the middle of IVF, navigating the timing can be especially stressful. Fortunately, doctors and experts are doing everything they can to ensure that prospective parents stay on the right path for starting their families. If you're concerned about your fertility treatments, keep reading to get answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Should I Cancel My Consultation Appointment?

Because in-person consultations are largely on hold for the moment, prospective parents should take advantage of virtual appointments. "If your clinic is doing remote consultations by telehealth, by all means keep the appointment," Dr. Julie Lamb, an obgyn and advisor to Modern Fertility, told POPSUGAR. "You should continue to meet with your physician virtually to make a plan for when the situation is safe to start treatment again."

Although experts may be relying on telehealth for the moment, they're currently thinking about the best — and safest — ways to resume their appointments in person. "Once appointments start up again, the clinic environment will look different," said Dr. Lamb. "Appointments will be spread out to limit the number of people in waiting rooms, everyone will be wearing masks, and you'll be encouraged not to come in if you have any signs of sickness."

What Do I Do If I've Already Started Treatments?

Although the thought of having to stop your fertility treatments can be incredibly stressful, Dr. Lamb encouraged prospective parents to stay as positive as possible. "Think of this as a pause in your treatment, and make a plan for next steps with your physician," recommended Dr. Lamb. "Many women feel anxious during this time. In fact, a recent study from Modern Fertility and SoFi found that 61 percent of women are stressed about fertility and family planning due to COVID-19. Having a plan for when things start up again can be a huge help psychologically and give you something to look forward to."

If I, My Partner, or My Surrogate Becomes Pregnant and Then Acquires COVID-19, Will the Baby Be in Danger?

So far, there haven't been any conclusive studies done to determine whether or not the fetus would be at risk if a pregnant woman contracted COVID-19. "There is limited data on COVID-19 and pregnancy, but early reports do not show an increased risk to the fetus," said Dr. Lamb. According to preliminary research from China, out of 33 infants born to mothers with COVID-19, three tested positive days after birth, possibly through in utero transmission, and developed mild symptoms. Additionally, another study found that six newborns who were born to COVID-19-positive mothers didn't test positive for the virus through serum or throat-swab testing, but virus-specific antibodies were detected.

What's Being Done to Help People Who Want to Start a Family?

Although nothing is set in stone just yet, doctors are doing everything in their power to help prospective parents, especially if the intended mother is older. "It's a great time to establish care with a fertility specialist by telemedicine to make a plan for testing and treatment in the near future. The Modern Fertility and SoFi survey found that about a third of women have changed their fertility plans due to COVID-19, so other women and physicians alike are actively thinking about what the best personal plan might be in light of the current situation," Dr. Lamb stressed. "This is a good time to think about what the path to your future family might look like, and learn about testing and treatment options. Understanding your options can be energizing, and sets you up to be well on your way when things are safe."