Lublin scientists investigate effects of COVID-19 on women's fertility

Credit: Adobe Stock
Credit: Adobe Stock

Scientists from Lublin have been attempting to find out what impact COVID-19 has on women’s fertility.

Dr. Marcin Bobiński from the 1st Clinic of Gynaecology and Oncological Gynaecology at the Medical University of Lublin and the Independent Public Clinical Hospital No. 1 in Lublin came up with the research idea his younger sister caught coronavirus.

He said: “We began to wonder if this infection could actually affect fertility. I started looking for information on this subject, but it turned out that there were no reports or scientific research devoted to this issue.”

The gynaecologists added: “At the beginning of the pandemic, we all focused primarily on the respiratory symptoms in the course of COVID-19, and on smell and taste disorders. 

“Over time, COVID-19 affected more and more people, there was talk about post-covid lung changes or the +covid brain fog+. With time - as doctors - we began to ask ourselves about the impact of all this on genital functions, especially the ovaries.”

To investigate the effects of Covid, researchers took 150 patients between 18-50 years old age.

Dr. Bobiński said: “The participants of the study are women who had a mild course of the disease and received outpatient treatment, as well as patients who were seriously ill and were hospitalised. There are also some participants who have not suffered from COVID-19.

“At the first visit - while the patients were still sick - we took blood to isolate the material to be used for research. Then, 30 days after recovery, we invited the women to a gynaecological visit, which consisted of gynaecological examination, cytology, ultrasound examination. 

“We also took material for scientific research in the form of blood serum, urine, material from the uterine cavity. 

“Such visits are now periodic. The collected material will be analysed in detail to compare these results over time, check the differences, also in terms of possible pregnancies.”

He added that the key will be tests of hormones related to sexual activity and an AMH hormone test that allows to determine the level of ovarian reserves, i.e. the maturation capability of eggs, thus determining the potential possibility of getting pregnant. 

He said: “We also plan to carry out immunological assessment of patients, as well as the analysis of other hormones, e.g. oxytocin, prolactin. The range of tests will depend on financing, on grants that we apply for, for example to the National Science Centre. We plan to do our research in stages, hence it can take up to several years.”

Dr. Bobiński continued: “It was surprising to us that in patients a month after recovery we do not observe any differences in their self-assessment of sexuality compared to healthy patients. 

“It might seem that getting sick with COVID-19 was such a stressful event that it would translate into sexual restrictions. However, in our studied group this did not happen.”

He added that although an initial hypothesis suggests that “the ovarian function is disrupted by having an acute infection…this is only my intuition, and in medicine you can not rely on intuition. At this point it is difficult to predict the results of our research.”

PAP - Science in Poland, Gabriela Bogaczyk

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