By Dr. Loree Johnson
In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has dramatically changed our communities. Schools, economies, and cities have shut down as we attempt to mitigate the virus. Individuals and couples who have waited months to conceive are now questioning whether it’s safe to try to get pregnant. For those who are pregnant, you may have concerns about the impact of the virus on your pregnancy.
While initial research is limited, the effect of this disease on fertility and reproductive health remains unclear, thus creating uncertainty as hopeful and expectant parents navigate the unknown.
COVID-19 and Conception
- Limited research exists about the transmission of the virus between mother and child. Therefore, medical providers have recommended that women abstain from actively trying to conceive until more data becomes available.
- Since each individual’s fertility journey is unique, adhering to the guideline to wait may feel frustrating.
- For those who struggle with fertility issues, postponing trying to conceive exacerbates an ongoing emotional wound. You should ask yourself how it would feel to wait even longer, as well as how you would feel about managing a pregnancy during a larger medical crisis. It is a personal decision that is best discussed with your partner, medical provider, and perhaps your therapist.
- Should you become pregnant, access to medical care may look different as medical providers move to virtual appointments or performing specific exams in your vehicle. At individual offices and hospitals, partners are prohibited from attending appointments or from being in birthing rooms.
- If you don’t have COVID-19 and want to pursue Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has recommended that clinics postpone all procedures that are considered elective. These procedures include intrauterine insemination (IUI), in-vitro fertilization (IVF), non-urgent egg or embryo freezing, and egg transfer.
- If you meet the criteria for COVID, please check with your doctor about when it is safe to resume trying to conceive or pursue ART
COVID and Pregnancy
- The impact of COVID-19 on pregnancy is still unknown. As stated earlier, little is known about the transmission of the virus between mother and child.
- A small study of nine pregnant women in Wuhan, China, revealed that infected mothers were no more likely to have worse symptoms than non-pregnant women.
- The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that “pregnant people seem to have the same risk as adults who are not pregnant.” However, they also noted that since individuals’ bodies constantly change during pregnancy, there is an increased susceptibility to infections in general.
When the pandemic hit the US, many individuals and couples saw their fertility treatments postponed or canceled. Having spent months or years and thousands of dollars to prepare for cycles to have them delayed caused great emotional hurts.
- Sticking to your routine as best you can. Waking up, eating, and going to bed at the same time each night help to bring some structure to your day, especially when information is constantly changing.
- Meditating or practicing mindfulness to soothe anxious thoughts. Anxiety is expected during a medical crisis, so find what a practice that works for you.
- Exercising can be challenging, especially with restrictions on being able to go outside. However, you can find many exercise programs online that can be done in the safety of your home.
- Giving yourself permission and space to grieve the loss associated with needing to wait or postpone treatments. You are living through a disappointing time that deserves to be honored.
Also, if you need more emotional support, most licensed mental health professionals are equipped to provide services online.