The surrogacy service requires planning before the commencement of the treatment. Multiple services such as reproductive doctors, agencies, a team of lawyers, and insurance providers are involved in the surrogacy process. Additional steps are required to plan for conducting a new surrogacy cycle or for those who have upcoming due dates for deliveries during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 17th March 2020, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (“ASRM”) issued guidelines for those who are participating in assisted reproduction. The guideline has updated on 30th March 2020.
- According to this guideline, new treatment cycles such as ovulation induction, intrauterine inseminations, in vitro-fertilization including retrievals and frozen embryo transfers, as well as non-urgent gamete cryopreservation should be suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Fresh and frozen embryo transfers are strongly canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The surrogacy treatment and care are only continued and given to those who are “in-cycle” or who require urgent stimulation and cryopreservation.
- All elective surgeries and non-urgent diagnostic procedures are currently suspended.
- Instead of in-person interaction, opt for telehealth service to minimize the contact.
The ASRM again adopted recommendations in July 2020 to enhance the safety of the surrogacy process, which include
- The impact of COVID-19 must be considered in case of which intended parents and gestational carrier or egg donor live.
- Frozen donor eggs and sperm shipments are the alternative options that require an opt-in case of donors and intended parents live in different states to avoid unnecessary traveling.
- Keep the record in case of surrogate or donor has had contact with COVID-19 positive patient, or has had COVID-19 positive test report, or has had COVID-19 associated symptoms. Donors or gestational carriers who test positive should have their cycles canceled.
It is not necessary for every country that they should follow the above mentioned ASRM guidelines, but every country has maintained precautionary measure to reduce the spread of COVID -19 infection. Reproductive doctors stop operations due to stay at home orders issued by different governments of various countries.
Although surrogacy agencies take necessary action depending upon the government rules and regulation in case of ongoing International surrogacy. Restriction in International traveling during COVID -19 pandemic has created a significant impact on individuals who are already involved in a surrogate relationship. Currently, domestic flights are available. But it is recommended limited traveling during the surrogacy process to minimize the risk of getting infected with COVID-19. Therefore, a virtual contract is the primary mode of contact between intended parents and their surrogate. Zoom meetings or FaceTime calls can help to avoid personal contact but assist in creating a strong bond between the intended parents and the surrogate.
Many surrogacy agencies have started to collect the new application for surrogacy. They collect all the necessary papers and medical records, but still put on hold the processing to settle a bit more of the current Covid-19 pandemic. In many countries, still traveling is restricted and clinic schedules are disrupted. But all are hoping soon this period will be overcome to start a new journey. Experts recommend re-evaluating the current surrogacy agreements in light of delays related to Covid-19.
Currently, clinics need to take additional safety measures to maintain the health of every involved party during the egg donation and embryo transfer, as both the surrogate and intended parents raise a concern about the risk of contracting COVID-19. Therefore, surrogacy agencies have an additional workload to educate all the involved parties including intended parents, surrogates, and egg donors about the current changes in the surrogacy and egg donation process. They also need to reassure about all safety measures are followed during these uncertain times.
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Ravi Sharma is a self-motivated, successful entrepreneur and has a solid experience in the fertility segment. and he is the director at ARTbaby Global (ARThealthcare). He is a pharmacy graduate with post-graduation in business administration and has 14 years of rich experience in the field of infertility segment. He loves to write about IVF, Surrogacy, and other ART (assisted reproductive technology) news, issues, and updates. He is a Pharmacy graduate (B. Pharm) and M.B.A (marketing).
His most recent success includes the successful launch of the medical tourism company, ARTbaby, which offers treatment options for infertility, egg donation, and surrogacy. He likes spending time with his family and writing about various aspects of IVF surrogacy and donating eggs.