COVID-19 and trying to conceive: Your questions answered

The pandemic has left us all with a lot of questions. Here, the Ovia Health clinical team answers your questions about COVID-19 and TTC.

Common questions about trying to get pregnant during COVID-19

Deciding that you want to get pregnant — and trying to conceive (TTC) on a timeline that works for you — is a very personal decision. While fertility and pregnancy care may look different during the pandemic, reproductive medicine remains essential. Multiple agencies including the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommend reproductive care continue. However, we recognize that there are non-clinical reasons to consider (e.g., financial stability) and the decision will be different for everyone. See our other FAQs for information about how COVID-19 impacts pregnancy, prenatal care, labor and delivery, and much more.

What if I’m older?

For women, being 35 or older is considered Advanced Maternal Age (AMA) during pregnancy. If you’re 35 or older, that means your pregnancy is considered high-risk and it also means it can be more difficult to become pregnant in the first place. That said, a decline in fertility due to age (beginning around age 32) is usually considered in terms of years, and a few month delay should not make a big difference in your ability to conceive. We don’t know how long the pandemic will last, and, again, deciding when is right for you to TTC is a very personal decision.

What if I have health conditions that are considered high-risk for COVID-19?

If you have any health conditions that put you at higher risk for a severe case of COVID-19, you should work closely with your healthcare team to keep yourself and your family safe. You should be taking every precaution to avoid contracting COVID-19, such as getting vaccinated and boosted, social distancing and wearing masks. Discuss the pros and cons of pregnancy with your healthcare team and family when making a decision about trying to conceive.

What if I’ve had complications in previous pregnancies?

If you’ve experienced complications in previous pregnancies, chances are you received a lot more facetime with your healthcare providers than the average pregnant woman. That means if you become pregnant again you’re at greater risk for another complicated pregnancy and thus will have a greater need for healthcare services. Find out what services are available at your healthcare facility, and what policies are in place for people with pregnancy complications. Ask how they will support you and your needs in the safest way possible. This will help you make a decision about what to do next.

Can the vaccine impact my cycle? What about COVID-19 infection?

For those whose bodies and cycles are easily affected by stress, the pandemic in general (and the recent Omicron strike specifically) could be making it more difficult to conceive right now. In 2021 there were some anecdotes of people noticing temporary changes to their periods after getting a COVID vaccine, and Ovia’s own research suggests that up to 1 in 3 women have experienced menstrual cycle length and/or symptom changes throughout the COVID era. However, a recent study found that the COVID-19 vaccines do not severely disrupt menstrual cycles. COVID-19 infection, however, can have catastrophic impact on the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis) that regulates menstruation. More research is needed here to thoroughly understand the way a COVID-19 infection could impact the menstrual cycle. The Ovia Fertility app can help you better understand your cycle and your symptoms and can help you predict your fertile window. Especially if your cycle is irregular, it’s important to closely track and monitor all your symptoms.

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The vaccine is recommended for everyone 5 years old and older,  including those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future, should get a booster shot. 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 TTC [2]. You should know, if you choose to get the vaccine, it is free to everyone in the U.S., regardless of insurance status. 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 for 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 said, there have been reports of a very rare, unexpected, adverse event with the vaccines. A severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis can happen in very rare cases and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been linked with rare cases of dangerous blood clots [3]. The incidences of these adverse events is very low and getting vaccinated remains safer than potentially getting infected with COVID-19 [4]. Your midwife, doctor, or other healthcare professional is a great resource for more information about the COVID-19 vaccine.

What about booster shots?

Booster shots are currently available for everyone over age 12 in the U.S.

What else should I consider?

Becoming pregnant during a public health crisis like the one we’re experiencing now is a deeply personal decision. The mounting evidence indicates that pregnant and recently pregnant people are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 disease compared to their non-pregnant peers. Infection during pregnancy has also been associated with increased risk of preterm birth. For this reason, it’s important to think about how being pregnant during the pandemic might influence your experience. If you couldn’t imagine a pregnancy without being surrounded by friends and family, having a baby shower, having a doula and multiple support people during labor and delivery, and your mom or friends helping you out after delivery, you might want to consider postponing. Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team Updated March 8, 2022
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