The Fertility Society of Australia in its updated recommendations in response to COVID-19 has recommended that patients postpone fertility treatment where possible:
With these recommendations, the FSA aims to provide its members (which include clinicians, scientists, nurses and counsellors) and the public evidence-based guidance that prioritises the needs and safety of patients and all staff involved in the provision of fertility care and is in line with the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). This plan calls for a proportionate response on the basis of the ethical framework agreed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC). This framework outlines the values that need to be taken into account during such a response, such as equity (providing care in an equitable manner), individual liberty, privacy and confidentiality, proportionality, protection of the public, provision of care, reciprocity, stewardship and trust.
Any recommendations made have also taken into account the statement by the AHPPC on COVID-19 on the 17th of March, 2020 which states that “the health sector must continue to undertake its core functions..” and that “interventions may need to continue for more than 6 months, and must be feasible and sustainable”
Reason for the update
Since the first version of this statement published on 19 March 2020, there has been an escalation in the national, state, territorial and provincial measures against the COVID-19 pandemic due the growing number of confirmed cases in Australia and New Zealand.
It has been proposed that certain categories of elective surgical procedures need to be scaled back or suspended (7, 8), in order to preserve resources such as anaesthetists, nurses, ICU or HDU beds, ventilators but also personal protective equipment (such as surgical masks, face shields or goggles, gloves etc) for when (or in case) the number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospital care exceeds the current capacity.
The Fertility Society of Australia appreciates the needs of individuals seeking assistance to conceive or preserve their fertility but also acknowledges that the overarching responsibility currently is to all patients as part of the Australian and New Zealand healthcare system.
The Fertility Society of Australia therefore recommends that, in the interest of public safety, patients who are planning to start fertility treatment consult with their treating specialist and discuss the appropriateness of postponing their treatment.
The Fertility Society of Australia recognises that there may be medical circumstances where delaying treatment may not be advisable and treating specialists should advise their patients if there are medical grounds to commence treatment now.