Monash IVF FAQs relating to COVID-19
1) What is Monash IVF’s position in regards to the recent government announcement relating to elective surgeries?
The Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that all elective surgeries, other than category 1 and urgent category 2 cases will be suspended. This will affect Monash IVF’s ability to perform egg collection (OPU) procedures.
Monash IVF understands that these measures are important to ensure the health and wellbeing of patients and healthcare workers, as well as ensuring that Australia’s healthcare system is best placed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
We also recognise that this is a very challenging time for people who require fertility treatment. We will continue to do everything we can to provide you with advice, support and treatment, where we are able to do so safely.
2) Why did the government restrict access to surgical procedures?
According to the Fertility Society of Australia (FSA), the government has restricted access to surgical procedures to preserve the supply of critical personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes things like surgical gowns and masks. The government has concerns that supplies will be depleted unless resources are prioritised.
In addition, the restrictions are required to reduce person-to-person transmission through distancing and social isolation.
3) What does this mean if I’ve already started my cycle?
We intend to continue to provide fertility treatment for those patients who have already commenced treatment. We will continue to monitor Government policy and will advise patients if there are any further changes.
If there are any changes to the location of your ongoing treatment, this will be discussed with you over the coming days.
Please note, treatment will only be provided if you are well and have not travelled overseas to any country, or had close contact with someone who has positively tested for COVID-19 within the last 14 days. If your current cycle needs to be delayed or cancelled as a result of COVID-19, you will not be charged any out of pocket fees for this cycle.
We would like to reassure all patients who have eggs, sperm or embryos in storage Monash IVF that we will continue to provide the greatest care in monitoring these until our services resume.
4) What does this mean if I haven’t started my cycle or I’m between cycles?
In order to ensure that we all continue to follow Social Distancing and “Stay at home” recommendations to help those healthcare practitioners at the frontline prepare, Monash IVF recommends that you postpone your treatment. We encourage you to speak to your Fertility Specialist who will consider your medical circumstances and advise you of your best option under these difficult circumstances.
Monash IVF has also introduced the following initiatives to support patients or people considering fertility treatment during this time:
- Fertility specialists are available for phone and video consultations. They continue to provide advice and other pre-work which may be required in the lead up to treatment. This will expedite treatment when services resume.
- Patients can contact a fertility nurse for a free phone or video appointment if they have any questions.
- Counselling is available to provide psychological support to patients before, during and after their treatment, and will continue to be available if a patient’s treatment is postponed. If you would like to access support counselling, please contact your clinic.
- A free webinar series, delivered by our fertility specialists and other experts will be available. Sessions will cover preparing for pregnancy, fertility and treatment options and fertility preservation.
5) What if my current cycle is not successful?
In the unfortunate event that your current fertility treatment is unsuccessful, you will need to discuss with your Fertility Specialist whether it is appropriate to continue treatment or defer future treatment until our services resume.
6) If we have to cancel treatment, when will we be able to proceed again?
Unfortunately, we do not know when we will be able to resume our services as no timelines have been given by the government. We will continue to comply with the advice of the Australian Government, the Fertility Society of Australia and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists during this time, and follow their guidance on when it is suitable and safe to resume our services.
Please know that we will be here to help you re-start your fertility journey as soon as we are able. The team at Monash IVF Group are incredibly passionate about what we do – and we are looking forward to helping you in our full capacity in the future as soon as it is safe for us to do so.
If you do need to cancel your treatment for any reason, please contact your fertility clinic or our enquiry line on 1800 628 533 to discuss your options.
7) Will there be a cancellation fee if my cycle needs to be cancelled?
If your current cycle needs to be delayed or cancelled as a result of COVID-19, you will not be charged any out of pocket fees for this cycle.
We ask that you advise us as soon as possible if you need to cancel an appointment.
8) Will fertility treatments still be available for older women during the pandemic?
Monash IVF empathises with women who may be older or have low ovarian reserves, however at this stage, the government has mandated that elective surgery is unable to continue.
We still encourage you to speak to your Fertility Specialist who will consider your medical circumstances and advise you of your best option under these difficult circumstances.
If your Fertility Specialist believes that it may be appropriate to delay your treatment, they will still be able to provide advice and other pre-work which may be required in the lead up to treatment. This will expedite your treatment when our services resume as normal.
The FSA believes that there is no evidence that delaying treatment for a short period of time (up to 2 months) will ultimately affect your ability to have a child, even if you have concerns about your age or low ovarian reserve. Read their FAQs for more details.
9) Should I attend my appointment if:
- I have recently travelled from overseas
- I have had close contact with someone who has positively tested for Coronavirus
- I have respiratory and / or viral symptoms
No, please do not attend. Please take your temperature, self-isolate at home and contact your clinic or Monash IVF on 1800 628 533. If your symptoms are only mild “cold” like symptoms (runny nose and sore throat) and you have no fever (your temperature is not 37.4 degrees C or higher) we may still proceed with treatment. This decision will be made on a case-by-case basis. Do not attend any appointments before discussing your symptoms with us.
10) Will my consultation or appointment be in person? What are the alternatives?
Consultations with your fertility specialist, counsellor or nurse may be able to be done as a phone or skype consultation. Your clinic can discuss this option with you before making an appointment.
If you have any viral symptoms or a fever you must not attend your consultation – please call and discuss your situation with the clinic instead.
Please note: If you have travelled overseas to any country, or had close contact with someone who has positively tested for COVID-19, you will not be able to book a treatment until you have been in self-quarantine for 14 days after contact, or after returning from travel. Monash IVF will not allow patients to book in for a stimulated IVF cycle until this 14-day period has elapsed.
For treatment consent forms and other documentation that need to be signed, we may be able to arrange that at your next in-person appointment, such as oocyte retrieval or embryo transfer. Your clinic will advise this on a case by case basis.
11) Are there options to do counselling over the phone?
Yes, to ensure we prioritise the health and safety of our patients and our people, we are currently able to provide telehealth counselling sessions. Please contact your clinic to make a new appointment or to enquire about an existing appointment.
12) What independent mental health support is available?
You can access a range of resources online, in addition to support from your Monash IVF counsellor.
The Fertility Society of Australia has recommended a range of evidence based resources to help patients with their mental health during this time:
- Australian Psychological Society
- Beyond Blue
- Black Dog Institute
- The Australian government digital health portal, Head to Health. This portal gives suggestions, on how to maintain good mental health during this COVID-19 outbreak and how to support others.
- ACCESS, Australia’s national infertility network, can further provide information on ways to keep you connected with others coping with infertility and who may have experienced a delay in their fertility treatment due to disruptions created by COVID-19.
13) Can I access IVF Support Groups during this COVID-19 outbreak?
Face-to-face IVF support groups are not possible during this outbreak because of social distancing rules. However, many online support groups are still active. You can contact your IVF clinic or call us on 1800 628 533 to find out more about the available online support communities.
14) I live overseas, are you accepting overseas patients?
Due to current Government travel restrictions, overseas patients who are considering treatment but have not yet commenced, should discuss with their Fertility Specialist whether their treatment needs to proceed at this time.
Your Fertility Specialist will consider your medical circumstances and may still recommend that you start treatment. If this is the case, and you have travelled from overseas from any country you will not be able to book a treatment until you have been in self-isolation for 14 days after travel. Monash IVF will not allow patients to book in for a stimulated IVF cycle until this 14-day period has elapsed.
If your Fertility Specialist does not recommend that you start treatment they may still be able to provide advice, testing and any other pre-work that may be required in the lead up to treatment. This will expedite your treatment when our services resume as normal.
15) What is Monash IVF doing to minimise transmission in clinics?
Monash IVF have introduced a series of initiatives to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, including increased frequency of cleaning of all high risk surfaces such as handrails, door handles and EFTPOS machines. We will also be ensuring that hand-sanitiser stations are available at key entry points. For examinations in an enclosed space such as ultrasound scans, procedures and blood tests we may routinely take the patient’s temperature.
Our people are aware of the need to stay away from the workplace and self-isolate, in accordance with government recommendations.
16) What happens if I have already commenced a stimulated IVF cycle and become unwell with flu like symptoms and/or a fever?
Please take your temperature, self-isolate at home and contact your clinic or Monash IVF on 1800 628 533. If your symptoms are only mild “cold” like symptoms (runny nose and sore throat) and you have no fever (your temperature is not 37.4 degrees C or higher) we may still proceed with treatment. This decision will be made on a case-by-case basis. Do not attend any appointments before discussing your symptoms with us.
Please note that medications such as paracetamol (Panadol) and other anti-inflammatories (Nurofen etc.) may hide a temperature for four hours. Please take your temperature at least 4 hours after taking these types of medications.
17) What happens if I am booked for a frozen embryo transfer, intrauterine insemination or ovulation induction and I become unwell with flu like symptoms and/or a fever?
Please notify your nursing team or call us on 1800 628 533. If your symptoms are mild and you have no fever, please self-isolate at home for 48 hours. We will then contact you to reassess your health.
If the symptoms remain, or you have developed a fever, we will cancel the cycle and delay treatment. If your symptoms have gone we may still be able to proceed with treatment, once we are able to in accordance with Australian Government guidelines.
18) Could COVID-19 have any negative effect on my chance of pregnancy?
There is no evidence at this stage of the impact of COVID-19 on fertility treatment and little is known about the effect of COVID-19 in pregnancy.
However, the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists statement on this topic is the best authoritative resource. The full statement can be found at RANZCOG. An outline of their statement is contained below in italics:
1. Are pregnant women at increased risk of becoming infected with COVID-19?
Pregnant women should be considered a vulnerable or at-risk group.
2. Are pregnant women at increased risk of developing severe disease/complications from COVID-19?
At this time, pregnant women do not appear to be more severely unwell if they develop COVID-19 infection than the general population. It is expected that the large majority of pregnant women will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms.
However, detailed information regarding the impact of COVID-19 infection on pregnant women and their babies is limited by the recency of the disease emergence. Therefore, our pregnancy advice is based on learnings from influenza infection, and also the medical response to the SARS epidemic in 2003. Influenza is a potentially serious disease for pregnant women, the fetus and newborn babies. A number of changes occur to a woman’s body during pregnancy. These changes include reduced lung function, increased cardiac output, increased oxygen consumption, and changes to the immune system. Due to these changes, pregnant women have an increased risk of severe complications from influenza.
3. Is there an increased risk of miscarriage with COVID-19?
For women who are trying to conceive, or who are in early pregnancy, there is no evidence to suggest an increased risk of miscarriage with COVID-19.
4. Can I transmit the virus to my baby while I am pregnant?
There is no evidence that the virus can pass to your developing baby while you are pregnant (this is called vertical transmission) or that the virus will cause abnormalities in your baby.
5. Can I still give birth in a hospital if I am diagnosed with COVID-19 infection?
The safest place to birth your baby is in a hospital, where you have access to highly trained staff and emergency facilities, if they are required. It is important to emphasise that a woman’s experience of labour and vaginal birth, or caesarean section, should not be significantly impacted and women should be encouraged, and supported, to approach this extraordinary time of their lives without fear or apprehension. Medical intervention, other than that specifically related to infection control, should not differ significantly from usual practice. Active mobilisation, use of water immersion in labour, nitrous oxide and epidural analgesia are not affected.
6. Do I need to have a caesarean section or interventional birth to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to my baby?
There is no evidence that caesarean section or induction of labour is necessary to reduce the risk of vertical transmission. If a woman has COVID-19 infection, or has had significant exposure, unless there are immediate risks to her health, or other obstetric indications, elective caesarean section or induction of labour should be delayed, if possible.
7. What are the risks to my baby if I am diagnosed with COVID-19 infection?
Some babies born to women with symptoms of COVID-19 in China have been born prematurely. It is unclear whether coronavirus was the causative factor, or the doctors made the decision for the baby to be born early because the woman was unwell. Newborn babies and infants do not appear to be at increased risk of complications from the infection.
8. Can I still go for my routine antenatal check ups and tests, and receive antenatal vaccinations if I am diagnosed with COVID-19 infection?
Routine antenatal investigations, ultrasounds, maternal and fetal assessments should continue as before, allowing for the modifications suggested below.
While it will not influence response to COVID-19 infection, routine whooping cough and influenza vaccination should continue to be administered in pregnancy.
The FSA has also provided an FAQ for patients who are concerned about having a pregnancy at this time. Read their FAQs.
19) What drugs are safe to take at this time?
Please consult with your fertility specialist or obstetrician as they are best to inform you regarding what medications are safe to take.
20) Can I access donor eggs, donor sperm, or surrogacy services during the pandemic?
In order to ensure that we all continue to follow Social Distancing and “Stay at home” recommendations, Monash IVF recommends that you postpone your treatment if you’re able to do so. We encourage you to speak to your Fertility Specialist who will consider your medical circumstances and advise you of your best option under these difficult circumstances.
21) Can I freeze my eggs for medical reasons during the pandemic?
The Australian Government has announced that all elective surgeries, other than category 1 and urgent category 2 cases, are suspended. However, freezing your eggs for medical reasons may be considered urgent treatment depending on your individual circumstance.
Monash IVF recommends that if you are considering egg freezing for medical reasons that you discuss with your Fertility Specialist whether your treatment needs to proceed at this time.
Your Fertility Specialist will consider your medical circumstances and whether it is urgent. They may recommend that you commence treatment.
If your Fertility Specialist does not recommend that you start treatment they may still be able to provide advice and any other pre-work which may be required in the lead up to treatment. This will expedite your treatment when our services resume as normal.
The arrangements and physical location for any urgent treatment will be discussed with you prior to commencing.
22) Can I freeze my eggs for elective (social) reasons during the pandemic?
In order to ensure that we all continue to follow Social Distancing and “Stay at home” recommendations, Monash IVF recommends that if you are able to postpone your treatment, that you do so. We encourage you to speak to your Fertility Specialist who will consider your medical circumstances and advise you of your best option under these difficult circumstances.
We will continue to provide fertility treatment for those patients who have already commenced treatment.
If you have commenced treatment, the arrangements and physical location for your ongoing treatment will be discussed with you over coming days.
If you have not yet started treatment, please contact your Fertility Specialist who can provide you with advice about the best course of action for you.
23) Will my eggs / sperm be affected by COVID-19?
There is no evidence at this stage of the impact of COVID-19 on eggs and sperm, however, it is early days. We will continue to review the evidence and provide the most up to date information as we can. Monash IVF recommends that if you are considering starting fertility treatment that you consult with your Fertility Specialist who can advise the best course of action for you.
24) Are my eggs/sperm/embryos in storage safe?
We would like to reassure all patients who have eggs, sperm or embryos in storage that Monash IVF that will continue to provide the greatest care in monitoring these until our services resume.
25) I’m interested in IVF – who can I talk to about my fertility options?
Monash IVF have a dedicated team of experienced fertility nurses who are available to speak to you for free via phone about your fertility options.
Our team are up to date on information relating to COVID-19, and can help you plan for treatment once it is safe for us to resume our services as normal.
They can answer any questions you may have, and can help you understand the IVF process in more depth.
26) Where can I find more information?
The following links are from independent, authoritative bodies and associations, and may be useful for you:
- Fertility Society of Australia (FSA) COVID-19 Information
- FSA patient FAQs
- RANZCOG COVID-19 Statement
- National Perinatal Association
For further information, please contact our nurse enquiry team on 1800 628 533.