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Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for patients

We understand that some patients are concerned about the current situation with coronavirus (COVID-19) and the impact it has on their fertility treatment. This page provides information about coronavirus and fertility treatment, as well as links to support services.

09 April 2020 Update - Restarting treatment

We understand this is a difficult time for patients and clinics with all fertility treatment being stopped from 15 April 2020. 

We will do all we can to lift this restriction as soon as possible but we cannot give a date when this will happen given the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK.

We are working on a strategy for addressing this and as a first step will be considering the criteria that will need to be satisfied before the direction can be lifted. Any decision will need to consider the views of the UK professional societies (BFS/ARCS), the impact that resuming treatment would have on NHS services, and general guidance from Government designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 on safe distancing and the movement of people.

Our aim is for the UK fertility sector to restart as soon as possible and we are keeping the situation under regular review.

01 April 2020 Update - Clinic closures

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have contacted clinics asking them to not start any new treatments and to complete any ongoing treatments by 15 April 2020.

We are regularly monitoring the situation, the government guidance and the advice from the fertility sector medical and scientific experts.

We understand this is a difficult time for patients and clinics. We will do all we can to allow clinics to reopen when it is appropriate to do so, when it is safe for patients and clinic staff and doesn’t put any additional strain on the NHS.

27 March 2020 Update - Patient enquiries and COVID-19

We understand that patients may have questions following the recent guidance we’ve sent out to clinics about fertility treatment during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The clinical guidance from the British Fertility Society (BFS) and Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists (ARCS) /a> says that:

  • All centres will stop initiating new fertility treatments, including In-Vitro Fertilization, frozen embryo transfer, surgical sperm retrieval, insemination and ovulation induction.
  • It is reasonable for clinics to complete treatment that has already commenced in patients who remain well and where the centre’s resources allow this to be done safely. 

However, all treatment should be completed by 15 April 2020 latest, in line with the direction we sent to clinics on 23 March 2020

If you have already started your treatment and you have questions about continuing, please contact your clinic. It is the responsibility of the clinic to decide whether it is clinically appropriate for a treatment cycle to continue. As the regulator, we’re unable to provide advice on individual medical situations. 

24 March 2020 Update - Information for fertility patients attending clinic appointments

Following last night’s announcement from the Government about staying at home and away from others we want to provide some clarity about what this means for those fertility patients who are currently finishing treatment cycles.

The guidance issued by the Government on 23 March states “you should only leave home for one of four reasons”. This includes any medical need or travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

This means that patients can still travel to their clinic to finish a treatment cycle, and clinic staff can travel to the clinic to provide that treatment as this cannot be done from home.

As you are aware even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are two metres apart from anyone outside of your household. You should also avoid using public transport wherever possible.

Guidance for patients

We understand that patients are concerned about the current situation with coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact of fertility treatment provision across the country.

Our role as the regulator

As the regulator, we are responsible for setting standards and monitoring the performance of fertility clinics and making sure they comply with the law. It is not our role to provide patients or clinics with medical advice, however as the COVID-19 outbreak has dramatically impacted on the health service across the country and the way fertility clinics can offer treatment, we’ve taken steps to keep patients and clinic staff safe.

What we've told clinics

In line with guidance from the British Fertility Society (BFS) and Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists (ARCS), we’ve issued General Directions which now require all clinics to have a COVID-19 strategy in place and to wind down their treatment services over the next three weeks.

General Directions are issued when we need to change clinic practice in line with new policy or guidance. General Directions are mandatory, meaning that all clinics must follow them. If a clinic fails to do so, it would be a breach of a statutory licence condition, which may have serious implications on their license, including suspending or revoking a clinic’s license.

Our Direction addressing the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation was implemented in line with the professional guidelines from the BFS and ARCS, as well as advice from the NHS that all non-urgent, elective surgery should stop by 15 April 2020 the latest.

COVID-19 advice

Dr Jane Stewart, Chair of the British Fertility Society, explains how the fertility sector is responding to the current coronavirus pandemic.


COVID-19 and pregnancy

Information for pregnant women and their families from the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists.

Emotional support

We appreciate that having fertility treatment under normal circumstances can be distressing for some patients and this is even more so in the current circumstances. There are a number of support options available to help patients through these difficult times. 

  • Fertility Network UK: Support lines are open and support groups have moved online for the time being.
  • Professional Infertility Counselling Association (BICA): Visit the 'Find A Counsellor' section on the BICA website to search for accredited counsellors offering online and or telephone sessions. 
  • Fertility clinics: Contact your clinic to find out if they still offer telephone or online counselling. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and donation

Patients or donors who have travelled to a country that is deemed to have a high risk of Coronavirus should speak to their clinic about how this may impact on their treatment or donation. 

Guidance issued by the Joint UK Blood Transfusion and Tissue Transplantation Services Professional Advisory Committee (JPAC) states:  

Must not donate if:

  1. a) Less than 28 days from a donor’s return from a Coronavirus risk area. This includes transit through an airport in a Coronavirus risk area, even if the traveller has not left the airport.
  2. b) Less than 28 days from the last contact with a person with Coronavirus infection.
  3. c) Less than 28 days since recovery from Coronavirus infection or possible Coronavirus infection.

The Department of Health and Social Care have issued guidance and advice on Coronavirus and an action plan, which may also be helpful for donors and patients to refer to. The NHS has also issued guidance.


Publication date: 9 April 2020

Review date: 9 April 2022