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COVID-19, assisted reproductive technology, and elective care: Your questions answered

Here, the Ovia Health clinical team answers your questions about ART and elective care during COVID-19. 

Facing infertility and fertility treatments was hard enough. Now I have Covid, and having treatments delayed or canceled is stretching my emotions to the limit. Where can I turn for specialized support with this?

Testing positive for COVID-19 during fertility treatment can be devastating. Often routine Covid testing is required in order to protect you and members of your healthcare team. Doing everything you can to avoid a positive test is important. Generally, this means making sure your whole family is vaccinated and boosted and taking extra precautions like masking or limiting social interactions to outdoor activities. Some people choose to isolate their family during particularly sensitive times – such as just prior to embryo transfer. 

The National Infertility Association (RESOLVE) is an excellent starting point for finding support and guidance during this challenging time. In addition to their free HelpLine, they offer a  COVID-19 Resource Center with information and webinars that may speak to what you’re going through, from “How to cope with the news that your cycle was postponed” to virtual support groups that are continuing to meet while social distancing. 

I have Covid or am high-risk and worried about exposure. I also need time-sensitive sexual or reproductive health care (e.g., birth control, STD testing, abortion services). What should I do?

If you don’t have a primary care provider or OB/GYN (or if you have one but don’t currently wish to use them), Planned Parenthood is a great option. Planned Parenthood is using telemedicine, like phone and video appointments, to expand access to these sorts of services and keep everyone healthy. Appointments can be scheduled by phone or on their website. No matter where in the U.S. you live, you can also check out Plan-C for abortion support.

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

All people who are eligible to receive the vaccine at this time should be able to get it, if they wish to. Multiple well-respected clinical organizations, including the CDC, ACOG (the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommend the vaccine to people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, and trying to conceive (TTC) [2].

The first clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Novavax did not include participants who were known to be pregnant or breastfeeding. This is typical for pharmaceutical research. Recent studies, however, have included those who are pregnant and breastfeeding and show that there is no increased risk for this group and that vaccines do not negatively impact pregnancy outcomes. 

Additionally, the COVID-19 vaccines do not contain “live” virus. This means you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccines. In general, vaccines that do not contain “live” viruses are safe during pregnancy and do not have increased risks for infertility, miscarriage, fetal anomalies, or stillbirth. Side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines include pain at the site of injection, fever, fatigue, and chills. These typically go away after a couple of days. These side effects are normal and expected. They are indicators of your immune system doing its job to learn to protect you from the virus. That being said, there have been reports of very rare, unexpected adverse reactions to the vaccines. Getting vaccinated remains safer than potentially getting infected with COVID-19.

Finally, for people whose bodies and cycles are easily affected by stress, it could be difficult to conceive right now. There are some reports of people having temporary changes to their periods (heavier, starting a few days later than expected) after getting a COVID vaccine or after having COVID, though more research is needed to see if there is a link. Even without further research, these changes are expected to be temporary and are not at all expected to impact fertility.

Your midwife, doctor, or other healthcare professional is a great resource for more information about the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Should I get the COVID-19 booster shot?

The CDC recommends a seasonal booster shot for everyone over the age 6 months.

Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team Updated

December 2023

Your COVID-19 guide

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