Should You Try To Get Pregnant During a Pandemic?…

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

 If you are trying to get pregnant, theoretically, there should not be any reason you should not. However, please keep the following in mind:

  • 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) supports clinics resuming care with precautions. Those precautions include performing general risk assessments, mitigation measures for the clinic and staff, and building testing capacity. The guidelines also suggest that clinics can open when certain milestones are met (e.g. reduction of cases for at least 14 days) and when local hospitals can safely address crisis care without overwhelming their capacity.
  • 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.

COVID and Fertility Treatments

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.

The taskforce for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recognizes the unique challenges faced by patients in the fertility community. In its latest report, ASRM noted that US states and cities are increasingly recognizing infertility care as essential services and have provided guidelines for resuming care when appropriate. As such, the benefits of providing treatment will be balanced against the risks of patient and staff exposure to the virus.

Coping During Fluid Times

We are living through an unprecedented time in our history, one that is heightened by uncertainty and anxiety. Therefore, self-care is even more critical. You may want to try:

  • 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. 

Everyone, pregnant or not, should be following the precautions outlined by the CDC. As medical guidelines change as we move through the pandemic, please check with your doctor about how they directly affect you. 

Also, if you need more emotional support, most licensed mental health professionals are equipped to provide services online.

This article was originally published on on May 4th, 2020.

It has been updated to include new data from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Covid Task Force Update on May 11th, 2020.

The updated version of this article was published on Thrive Global on May 12th, 2020.

Related articles: Regrouping During Uncertain Times, How Do You Know When You Need a Fertility Coach

Regrouping During Uncertain Times

Dear Fellow Infertility Warrior,

The spread of Covid-19 has quickly crippled our nation. What was happening in China, South Korea, and Italy felt so distant weeks ago until it became our reality. Those of us in California, New York, and Washington state (where the virus seems most concentrated at the writing of this post) are adjusting to a new normal where the grocery store shelves are bare, we’re isolated in our homes, and toilet paper feels like budding currency.

Amid this national chaos, we are dealing with additional challenges as a result of the virus. IVF cycles, months and years in the making, have been canceled or postponed. Long-awaited transfers have been too. For some, that translates into thousands of dollars and months and years of hopes crushed and cast into limbo. 

The impact of the virus on pregnancy is still unknown, leading to another layer of uncertainty and worry for those of you already pregnant. 

Living through a medical crisis, while our nation is undergoing a larger health one, further compounds the emotional trauma that comes along with our journey. Constant change and uncertainty only heighten the emotional chaos you may feel when you are doing your best to stay grounded.

While there is no easy way to get through this, remember that we have endured hardships before, and we can do so again.

Initially, you may need to retreat, reprocess, and regroup. It may look like a variation of what I have outlined below which I found helpful in the past:

  1. Honor your feelings – Anger, sadness, frustration, etc. Give them a voice. If your feelings had words, what would they say?
  2. Journal – Use it as much as you can to capture your thoughts and feelings.
  3. Needs – Ask yourself what you need most right now – words of comfort, affirmation, a hug, or something else? Identifying what feels most helpful is important.
  4. Reconnect with yourself – You’ve just gone through yet another disappointment in a string of disappointments. Be tender with yourself. Get lost in a book, mindless television, or listen to music that you find uplifting.  
  5. Control – Focus on what you have control over vs. what you don’t. Stay in the present as much as you can.
  6. Strength – Lean into the strength that got you to this point. Faith, community, connection – any or all of it is fair game. Get support wherever you find it.

Lastly, I know you have heard this before, but I will say it again – WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER! 

Sending love and light to all,

~ Dr. Loree