Dear Valued Patient,

Shady Grove Fertility continues to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommendations in response to COVID-19. Practice leaders examine the implications of all recommendations with a careful focus on our duty to our patients and to public health. 

According to ACOG, all three COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are strongly recommended for women who are pregnant or contemplating becoming pregnant. 

Patients who decide to get vaccinated should continue to follow the current guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 after they are vaccinated. That means: 

  • Wearing a mask
  • Staying at least six feet away from others
  • Avoiding crowds
  • Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
  • Following CDC travel guidance
  • Following quarantine guidance after exposure to COVID-19
  • Following any applicable workplace guidance

Please refer to our COVID-19 FAQ below to learn more about COVID-19 vaccine guidance for women who are contemplating pregnancy or currently pregnant.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and change our plans as indicated, with practicing only evidence-based medicine as our standard.

Medical contribution by Eric A. Widra, M.D.

Eric A. Widra, M.D., is the medical director of Shady Grove Fertility in Metropolitan Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; and Philadelphia, and the associate director of the Combined Federal Fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility—a post-graduate training program for future leaders in this subspecialty, operated through the National Institutes of Health, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and Shady Grove Fertility.

COVID-19 FAQ

SGF staff members and doctors have the knowledge and training needed to safely care for patients while taking necessary precautions against the spread and transmission of COVID-19. At this time, SGF has taken measures to limit transmission by promoting hand hygiene and disinfecting protocols, inputting screening measures, modifying appointments and schedules, performing consults electronically when indicated, and making adjustments to treatment cycles if deemed necessary.

SGF does not test patients for coronavirus. 

Please contact your primary healthcare provider if you feel sick and have mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing – especially if you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 or if you have symptoms and have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19. 

We currently require masks for patients and staff in our facilities. Recommended masks per CDC include:
  • Medical procedure masks (sometimes referred to as surgical masks or disposable face masks) 
  • Masks that fit properly (snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face) 
  • Masks made with breathable fabric (such as cotton) 
  • Masks made with tightly woven fabric (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source) 
  • Masks with two or three layers 
  • Masks with inner filter pockets 

More effective fabrics for cloth masks are: 

  • Tightly woven fabrics, such as cotton and cotton blends 
  • Breathable 
  • Two or three fabric layers 

Not Recommended per CDC:  

  • Masks that do not fit properly (large gaps, too loose or too tight) 
  • Masks made from materials that are hard to breathe through (such as plastic or leather)
  • Masks made from fabric that is loosely woven or knitted, such as fabrics that let light pass through 
  • Masks with one layer 
  • Masks with exhalation valves or vents 
  • Wearing a scarf/ski mask 

Less effective fabrics for cloth masks are: 

  • Loosely woven fabrics, such as loose knit fabrics 
  • Single layer 

CDC is currently studying the effectiveness of various cloth mask materials. Refer to the Scientific Brief: Community Use of Cloth Masks to Control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 | CDC for more information. 

Every patient’s comfort level is different, so I respect that when determining a treatment path forward. I like to give my patients The CDC recommends the following everyday preventative actions to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:
  • Get vaccinated per CDC guidelines
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 
  • Cover your cough. 
  • Cough into a tissue and then throw it away after use. If no tissues are available, cough into your elbow, not your hand. 
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. 
  • Visit the CDC website for more information about COVID-19 and prevention. 

Thank you to the SGF community for your cooperation in following these requirements:
  • Patients must wear a face mask that covers their mouth and nose for all visits to an SGF office. 
  • Valve Masks and Neck Gaiter Masks are NOT permitted in our offices. 
  • One-way Valve masks, or masks with vents, are ineffective; it only protects the person wearing it, and not others- due to the valve. 
  • Patients who are dropping off a semen specimen also require a face mask in order to enter an SGF office. 
  • The face covering must be on before entering the building, before reaching the lobby or elevator. 
  • Patients must come unaccompanied to their appointment (may vary by region, please contact your local office) in order to limit the number of people in our space and best accommodate physical distancing. 
  • If you are experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms, have a temperature, or have recently been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please notify our front desk staff before coming to an SGF office.  

SGF is following the recommendations of the CDC, ACOG and ASRM.

There are no national or international organizations who are saying it is unsafe to become pregnant at this time. This is in contrast to Zika or Rubella/German measles, for example, where abstaining from pregnancy was a recommendation at one time.

We have no reason to believe COVID-19 will adversely affect the outcome of your fertility treatment. 

With that being said, women still wonder, to what lengths should I go to start or continue fertility treatment? The answer is, infertility is a disease, and for many couples, it is time sensitive. As we see every day, our patients’ suffering is acute and real. Having children is fundamental to humanity. 

We do not recommend a delay in most cases and recommend a risk-benefit analysis discussion between patients and their physicians.   With caution and safety measures in place, we feel it’s appropriate to move forward with fertility treatment, if that is what your physician advises. 

A recent study published in the journal JAMA in 2020 examining the semen samples of 38 COVID-19-positive patients, found the presence of COVID-19 in 15% of the samples collected, suggesting the virus can be sexually transmitted; however, it should be emphasized that sperm can carry viruses from the male reproductive tract to the female reproductive tract, and therefore that is not a unique characteristic of COVID-19.

Pregnant women should do the same things as the general public to avoid infection. You can help stop the spread of COVID-19 by taking enhanced universal precautions:
  • Get vaccinated per CDC recommendation
  • Wear a facial mask that fully covers your nose and mouth when in public. 
  • Avoid people who are sick. 
  • Clean your hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 
  • Practice social distancing. 

The following is a statement from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM): 

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, patients have had questions about the impact of the virus on their health. Now, as the rollout of the COVID vaccines progresses, patients similarly have questions about whether the vaccine is right for their individual health needs.” 

“As experts in reproductive health, we continue to recommend that the vaccine be available to pregnant individuals. We also assure patients that there is no evidence that the vaccine can lead to loss of fertility. While fertility was not specifically studied in the clinical trials of the vaccine, no loss of fertility has been reported among trial participants or among the millions who have received the vaccines since their authorization, and no signs of infertility appeared in animal studies. Loss of fertility is scientifically unlikely.” 

For more information, please visit ACOG’s Practice Advisory on Vaccinating Pregnant and Lactating Patients Against COVID-19. 

SGF is following guidance from the CDC, FDA, and ACOG regarding recommendations for COVID vaccination while trying to conceive. Based on excerpts from the current ACOG statement, 

Individuals Contemplating Pregnancy

Vaccination is strongly recommended for non-pregnant individuals. Based on the benefit-risk assessment, COVID-19 vaccination continues to be recommended for all persons aged ≥ 12 years under the FDA’s EUA. Further, ACOG recommends vaccination for individuals who are actively trying to become pregnant or are contemplating pregnancy. Additionally, it is not necessary to delay pregnancy after completing both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Claims linking COVID-19 vaccines to infertility are unfounded and have no scientific evidence supporting them. Given the mechanism of action and the safety profile of the mRNA vaccines in non-pregnant individuals, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are not a cause of infertility. Adenovirus vector vaccines such as the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine cannot replicate following administration, and available data demonstrate that it is cleared from tissues following injection. Because it does not replicate in the cells, the vaccine cannot cause infection or alter the DNA of a vaccine recipient and is also not a cause of infertility (Evans, 2021, Morris 2021). Therefore, ACOG recommends vaccination for all eligible people who may consider future pregnancy. 

If an individual becomes pregnant after the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine requiring two doses (Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna), the second dose should be administered as indicated. 

Finally, routine pregnancy testing is not recommended and should not be required prior to receiving any EUA-approved COVID-19 vaccine.” 

Updated guidance from the CDC: 

“COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people aged 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19.” 

CDC Recommendations for Vaccinated Persons: 

“While mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have demonstrated high efficacy at preventing severe and symptomatic COVID-19, there is currently limited information on how much the vaccines might reduce transmission and how long protection lasts. In addition, the efficacy of the vaccines against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants is not known. At this time, vaccinated persons should continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often, following CDC travel guidance, and following any applicable workplace or school guidance, including guidance related to personal protective equipment use or SARS-CoV-2 testing.” 

However, vaccinated persons with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine. Please follow the CDC guidance below: 

• “Fully vaccinated people who have a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to be tested 3-5 days after exposure, and to wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.  Most fully vaccinated people with no COVID-like symptoms do not need to quarantine or be restricted from work following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, if they follow the testing and masking recommendation above.” 

For more information, please follow this link to the CDC’s website.

During this unprecedented time, we will continue to offer our patients the support they need and deserve. Our staff is available, and will continue to provide guidance to ensure patients are able to make progress toward their family building goals, and start or resume testing and/or treatment as soon as possible. 

To expedite the proper handling of your question/request and in order to provide you with the best possible service, please direct all communications to the contact information below. 

  • All general scheduling questions should to be addressed to the SGF New Patient Center at: 1-888-761-1967. 
  • All clinical questions should be addressed to your clinical team and sent via the SGF Patient Portal. 
  • All financial questions should be addressed to your financial team and sent via the SGF Patient Portal. 
  • All SGF Patient Portal technical/troubleshooting questions, call the SGF New Patient Center at 1-888-761-1967. 

For more information about COVID-19, visit www.cdc.gov or your local health department. 

Read the CDC’s vaccination guidance for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding

Read more about COVID-19 symptoms from the CDC.

REFERENCES

  1. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. ACIP recommendations. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/recommendations.html. Retrieved December 11, 2020. 
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 (coronavirus disease): people with certain medical conditions. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html. Retrieved December 11, 2020. 
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): people with certain medical conditions. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html. Retrieved December 7, 2020. 
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Local reactions, systemic reactions, adverse events, and serious adverse events: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-manufacturer/pfizer/reactogenicity.html. Retrieved December 13, 2020 
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html. Retrieved December 13, 2020 
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health equity considerations and racial and ethnic minority groups. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/health-equity/race-ethnicity.html. Retrieved December 13, 2020 
  7. Collin J, Byström E, Carnahan A, Ahrne M. Public Health Agency of Sweden’s Brief Report: pregnant and postpartum women with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection in intensive care in Sweden. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2020;99:819-22. Available at: https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/aogs.13901. Retrieved December 11, 2020. 
  8. Delahoy MJ, Whitaker M, O’Halloran A, Chai SJ, Kirley PD, Alden N, et al. Characteristics and maternal and birth outcomes of hospitalized pregnant women with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 – COVID-NET, 13 states, March 1-August 22, 2020. COVID-NET Surveillance Team. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1347-54. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6938e1.htm. Retrieved December 11, 2020. 
  9. Ellington S, Strid P, Tong VT, Woodworth K, Galang RR, Zambrano LD, et al. Characteristics of women of reproductive age with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection by pregnancy status – United States, January 22-June 7, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:769-75. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6925a1.htm. Retrieved December 11, 2020. 
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