22 couples participated in a first-of-its-kind study on the impact of a recent COVID-19 infection in one of the two partners in relation to the quality of embryos during an in-vitro fertilization process.
Out of the 22 couples that participated in the study, 9 required a second IVF attempt 8 to 92 days after receiving a negative COVID-19 test. The study results indicated that exposure to COVID-19 did not affect the ovarian reserve among female participants, and although the sperm quality of male participants was somewhat lower, it was not clinically significant. However, the study did indicate that the quality of the embryos produced during the IVF procedure of the aforementioned 9 couples was lower.
According to Prof. Raoul Orvieto, Director of the Fertility and IVF Unit: “The production of eggs and sperm lasts for around three months and can be hampered by inflammatory responses, like the ones that occur as a result of a viral infection, which is the case with COVID-19.” Prof. Orvieto added: “Our study indicated that the quality of embryos producers during an IVF procedure for a couple in which one of the partners had previously contracted COVID-19 was significantly lower, and lead to a lower chance of successful implantation.”
Concluding the study, Prof. Orvieto remarked that based on its results, couples should wait for at least three months after one of the partners has been infected with COVID-19 before starting IVF treatments. This step is meant to ensure that the eggs and sperm used during the procedure were not harmed as a result of the inflammatory response created by the virus.