Frequently Asked Questions: Covid-19 - updated 11th June

We want to help and support all our patients during this unsettling time. To provide answers to many questions patients may have, we have created this FAQ which we are keeping updated.

 

  • When did LEEDS FERTILITY recommence treatment and what is now available?

    Leeds Fertility restarted IVF treatments on May 18th, with the first egg collections performed on May 28th.  We have also resumed frozen embryo transfer cycles, and during June will reintroduce other treatments such as IUI and ovulation induction.   All is going well under our new ways of working.  We have adapted all our processes to provide the necessary protection for patients and staff. 

  • What are you doing to keep patients informed in this difficult time?

    We update our website and social media as soon as there is news to tell.  Everyone who had their treatment stopped due to the lockdown and are now waiting to restart their treatment, should have received a telephone call with a new treatment plan.  If this has not happened please get in touch as soon as possible.  For those waiting for a nurse consultation to start a new treatment cycle, we are contacting everyone in chronological order, and you should hear soon when you can be seen, and your treatment can start.  If you are unsure what to do next, we have members of our medical, nursing and embryology team here to answer any questions you may have.  Please contact (0113) 206 3100 (option 1 for the Admin team, option 2 for the Nurses team, option 3 Private patients office)

  • I have had my initial appointment but was unable to have the investigations completed due to the Coronavirus epidemic, what do I do?

    We are delighted to announce we can accept new NHS Fertility referrals from June 15th.  GP practices are also increasing the number of services available.  As soon as your GP practice re-opens for investigations, please contact the practice to book in for your blood tests and swabs.  We have kept a list of those needing scans and sperm tests at Leeds Fertility and will send appointments for these tests in chronological order.  Once you have completed the investigations requested please contact us by telephone (0113 206 3100) to book your review appointment to discuss the results and get you started on the right treatment.

    Please remember that in these special circumstances, we ask that those having their blood tests, sperm tests or scans attend on their own with their partners remaining out of the clinic, perhaps in the car or hospital grounds, unless you are both having a test at the same time.  We know this is less personable, but it is an unfortunate necessity to reduce your risk.  If you have any problems arranging your tests, please get in touch with our friendly Administrative team (telephone 0113 206 3100 option 1).

  • When will I restart my treatment?

    We are committed to restarting treatments such that no-one will be compromised.  Those that had treatment cancelled, and those already planned and ready to start when the lockdown occurred will be the first to restart their treatments.  Our dedicated team will be in touch with all those waiting for treatment to work out their personal fertility journey.

  • I am worried and do not want to restart my retreatment yet. Will I be penalised?

    We recognise that this is an extremely stressful time for all at the moment, and you may not feel able to restart / start the treatment process at this difficult time.  Rest assured you will not be penalised in any way for delaying the start of your treatment.  As time passes some of the tests you have had performed may need to be repeated so they are up to date when you do start.

    For those having NHS treatment and are close to the age limits for NHS funding the CCGs have agreed to be flexible.  For those having private treatment who have already paid, we will carry over your fee until you are ready to restart.

    Fertility treatment is a very personal process and each individual couple will need to decide what is right for them.  We will support your decision and are here to help you whatever way we can.  If you have concerns, require our help, or need support please do not hesitate to contact our dedicated team.

  • I have paid for my treatment but unable to proceed, what happens?

    Don’t worry if you have paid for treatment and we delayed the start, or you had to stop treatment because you were infected with coronavirus your payment will be carried over, and we will be in touch with a plan for your treatment to start as soon as possible. 

    For those of you who had started your treatment but unfortunately had to stop before the egg collection or embryo transfer due to the restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Leeds Fertility will simply restart your treatment and perform all the necessary scans and blood tests needed without any additional charge.  You may have to pay the Pharmaceutical Company for some additional medication to replace that which you already used.   Our nursing and administrative teams will be in touch with everyone to get you started again as soon as possible and will discuss your needs and circumstances individually.

  • How long will I have to wait when the clinic re-opens before I can start my treatment?

    Over the coming days we will endeavour to contact all patients currently waiting for a nurse consultation in order to arrange your appointment and provide a realistic timescale of when to expect your treatment to start.

  • Will I still get NHS funding?

    We will honour our promise to fund any treatment that has already been planned for you. If you haven’t yet had a treatment plan we will assess your eligibility based upon the criteria that have been established by our commissioners. If you are at the age limit of eligibility for funding we will do our best to support you and will have to discuss each case on an individual basis.

  • What safety measures have you put in place to protect me during my treatment?

    Leeds Fertility takes your safety very seriously.  We have made huge changes to our service to protect you and your partner when you are planning and going through your treatment.  All our procedures have been thoroughly risk accessed, and a careful log is kept each day so that any problems can be identified and remedied as quickly as possible.  We recognise that some of these changes may seem a little impersonal at this stressful time.  Rest assured, our helpful friendly staff will try their hardest to make your fertility journey as smooth and stress free as possible.

     

    Consultations

    The majority of consultations, both new, review and the nurse consultations prior to starting treatment are now performed virtually, using smart telephone technology, or secure video conferencing.  These are designed to be equally effective as our face to face consultations but reduce the footfall to the clinic.

     

    Clinic appointments for investigations and treatment.

    Everyone who is attending our clinic for a test as part of investigation or treatment is contacted the previous day and asked to complete a simple list of questions to see if you are at risk of having or catching the virus.  This is part of what is termed a triage process.

    On the day of your appointment we ask that you attend alone, at the allocated time.  Your partner should remain in the car or hospital grounds.  We have lengthened the time of each appointment and spaced them out.  At the entrance to the clinic you will be re-asked your triage questions, and have your temperature monitored.  If the questions are all satisfactory and your temperature is normal you can then proceed into the clinic.  We also ask that you wear a face mask when you enter the clinic.  You are encouraged to wear your own cloth / face mask as this helps conserve our PPE supplies as much as we can, but if you do not have your own, or forgot to bring it with you, we will supply you with a simple face mask.

    The spacious waiting room as been changed to make sure that we comply with the social distancing rules.  All clinic areas are marked to help make it clear what you need to do.

    When you are called into your appointment the staff too will be wearing simple face masks and will not shake hands.  All equipment used and the treatment rooms are carefully sterilised after each appointment.

    Men who require a sperm test and live locally (within 20 miles), will be provided with a semen pot at reception, and asked to produce their sample at home, rather than in the clinic.  If this is not possible, or you live a distance away, we can organise for you to use one of our dedicated bedrooms in the clinic.  For those producing at home, there will still be set appointment times for the sperm samples to be brought to the clinic for analysis. 

    Clinic procedures

    For those having procedures like egg collections, inseminations or embryo transfers, we will carefully stagger the times of your appointments to make sure you are in the clinic for the minimum time required to get you ready for your procedure.  We have changed the way we operate to allow the required social distancing and plenty of time to thoroughly clean the procedure room and recovery bay between cases.  We have also committed to working longer, including treating Saturday and Sunday as normal working days to ensure we can treat as many of you as possible safely.

    Testing for Coronavirus

    As part of our commitment to minimize the risk of infection for all having IVF and related procedures, we are going to test both partners for coronavirus (antigen testing) at the start of the treatment process, and again on day 9 of stimulation.  We ask you to comply with strict social distancing from the start of treatment, then to self-isolate from day 9 to the day after the embryo transfer, a period of approximately 8 to 9 days. 

    Your individual commitment

    As part of your commitment to reduce the risk of developing COVID 19, it is important to follow Government guidance at www.gov.uk/coronavirus , particularly on social distancing and handwashing.  We are also asking those embarking on fertility treatment to complete a COVID 19 consent form acknowledging that you have read the relevant information in the weblinks provided, and that during your fertility treatment you confirm that you will observe a strict code of conduct that we have put together to reduce the risk of bringing infection into the clinic.  We are asking you to advise us that when you start treatment you have not been diagnosed with COVID 19 or display any of the symptoms of the disease within the preceding 7 days.  You will be asked to complete a daily COVID 19 diary sheet during the treatment process and make an undertaking to let us know if you become symptomatic.  If you do have a confirmed coronavirus infection, we will have to suspend your treatment cycle to allow time for you to fully recover before you can restart.  PDF copies of the Consent and COVID 19 Code of Conduct are found on the bottom of the main news item announcing we are re starting treatment.

     

    Cancellation of treatment

    At any stage of the treatment process if you develop coronavirus infection your treatment will be postponed, allowing time for you to fully recover.  This also ensures as far as possible that infected individuals are not seen at Leeds Fertility, lowering the risk of infecting other patients and staff alike.

  • What is a triage process and questions will I be asked?

    The triage process is a simple method designed to allow us to pick out those who are at risk of having or developing a coronavirus infection.   It involves filling in a questionnaire or answering the same series of questions over the telephone before you attend your appointment.

    Have you or your partner or any member of your household been diagnosed with COVID 19?

    Have you or your partner or any member of your household had any of the following symptoms in the last two weeks:

    • Fever
    • Persistent cough
    • Loss of sense of smell
    • Loss of sense of taste
    • Sore throat

    Have you been in contact with anyone in the last two weeks who has any of these symptoms or has been diagnosed with COVID 19?

    If the answer to any of these questions is yes, we ask you not to attend the clinic in person and contact us on 01132 63102 who will advise the next steps.

  • Can my partner attend with me during my appointments?

    We have made the difficult decision that to minimize the risk of infection we have to reduce the number of people present in clinic at any one time.  Only those having an intervention, whether that be a scan test, sperm test, or IVF treatment itself should attend the clinic at a pre-designated appointment time.  We recognise this can be difficult both in terms of support, and for those travelling from afar.  However, we need to make these changes in these unprecedented times for everyone’s safety.  Of course, we will involve both partners together when making any important decisions during the treatment process by using smart telephones or video conferencing.

  • Testing for Coronavirus

    Testing for Coronavirus:

    IVF: As part of our commitment to minimize the risk of infection for all having IVF and ICSI procedures, we are going to test both partners for coronavirus (antigen testing) at the start of the treatment process, and again on day 9 of stimulation.  We ask you to comply with strict social distancing from the start of treatment, then to self-isolate from day 9 to the day after the embryo transfer, a period of approximately 8 to 9 days. 

    FET: For those having a Frozen Embryo Transfer, the woman alone will have a coronavirus antigen test on day 12 of her cycle and be asked to self-isolate until the day after the embryo transfer.

    IUI: For IUI using your partners fresh sperm sample both you and your partner will be tested for coronavirus on day 9 or 10 of the woman’s menstrual cycle.  For those couple’s using frozen sperm (partner or donor), only the woman being inseminated will be tested for coronavirus.

    Ovulation Induction: For those having ultrasound scans for ovulation monitoring but not having a licensed fertility treatment with either egg or sperm manipulation in the laboratory we have decided not to perform coronavirus tests.

  • What happens if I test positive for coronavirus during treatment?

    Unfortunately, if either partner tests positive for coronavirus we will have to suspend your treatment to allow you time to recover completely before restarting.  We will discuss the implications of cancelling treatment individually in the rare event that it is required.

  • If I am pregnant, what are the risks if I catch COVID 19? What advice can you give to pregnant women?

    The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) have not advised women to stop trying naturally to conceive and assisted conception treatments such as IVF pose no increased risk.  Generally, pregnant women are no more likely to be seriously unwell when compared to other healthy adults if they become infected with coronavirus.  The vast majority will experience only mild or moderate flu like symptoms.  These include a cough, fever, some shortness of breath, loss of smell or headaches.

    So far, there is no evidence to suggest that the virus causes any serious harm to the developing baby, or an increased risk of miscarriage, although there have been two cases of probable transmission from a mother to her baby during pregnancy or birth (vertical transmission).  In all reported cases of newborn babies developing coronavirus very soon after birth, the babies have been well.  Some babies have been born prematurely to women who were very unwell with COVID -19. It is unclear whether the virus caused these premature births, or whether it was recommended that the baby was born early for the benefit of the women’s health recovery.

    The RCOG have put together an excellent information resource for pregnant women and their families. The advice in this document has been drawn from their website www.rcog.org.uk. Given the rapid pace of increasing knowledge about this condition, we ask that you visit the RCOG website personally for the latest guidance.

  • I am feeling really low with the current situation- is there any fertility- focused support or counselling you can recommend?

    At Leeds Fertility we all recognise the additional stress and strain this current COVID 19 pandemic puts on an already stressful treatment.  Our dedicated team of counsellors have been going the extra mile by working at weekends to reduce the bottleneck for counselling appointments.  We are now pleased to report that the waiting times for counselling appointments are significantly reduced to make sure we offer everyone the personalised support they need at this difficult time.  Please contact Rose (0113 206 3218) to book your appointment.

    Fertility Network UK, the national patient organisation, has some useful resources which you may want to investigate (fertilitynetworkuk.org). 

  • How can I help my fertility in the delay before starting my treatment?

    Vitamin D - official advice is to supplement during the winter months in the UK as our bodies can't produce enough from sunlight and diet tends to be a poor source as food contains only low levels.  Vitamin D is an important immune function regulator and being deficient will make you more at risk of infection too. Everyone should be supplementing with vitamin D at this time (at least 1,000 units/day depending upon your own level). The “Mediterranean diet” has a good intake of vegetables, fish, lean meat, nuts, beans, olive oil and whole grains is most associated with good health. Brazil nuts may be a particularly helpful inclusion as they are high in selenium, which is good for fertility and immunity, 2-3 brazil nuts a day is sufficient.

  • My treatment was stopped once medications had started, when will my cycle resume?

    Please contact the nursing team at Leeds Fertility and we can discuss your individual situation with you.

  • If I stored sperm/embryos prior to the clinic closing will they be affected by Coronavirus/Covid-19?

    There is currently no evidence that coronavirus can penetrate eggs, sperm or embryos directly.  There is now some evidence from one small study of 50 men that coronavirus can be found in 16% of semen samples of men affected by COVID 19.  This raises the possibility of transmission of coronavirus infection through normal sex if you have the disease or are in the recovery phase.  However, if you stored sperm in Leeds and have not knowingly had COVID 19, there is only a very small risk that the sample may have been contaminated with coronavirus.  In addition, when sperm samples are stored, they are washed carefully, removing the seminal plasma containing the virus before freezing.  Therefore, the likelihood of coronavirus in these stored samples is extremely low.  This is still a new disease and data is being accumulated and evaluated by the scientific community.  Here at Leeds Fertility we ensure that we are up to date with all evidence as it comes to light.

  • My embryo or sperm storage payment is due and I am unable to have treatment- what do I do?

    We have initially placed a 4 month grace on storage payments to assist you through this period.

  • Have my eggs, embryos and sperm been safe whilst the unit has not been open for treatment?

    Please be assured that our embryology team have been here during this time to monitor and maintain the tanks to ensure your eggs, embryos and sperm are safely in storage during this pandemic.

  • Making / arranging a payment.

    To ensure all patients and staff remain safe during this period, we request all patients who need to make payments arrange to do so via the telephone or via bank transfer. If you wish to talk to a member of staff regarding a payment please call: (0113) 206 3165 or (0113) 206 3157.