Nearly two years into the pandemic, birth rates are on the rise and a baby boom is finally happening - just a little later than most people predicted! Despite the pandemic lingering much longer than anyone could have guessed (remember when we all thought it would be over in two weeks?!) Millennials are showing renewed confidence in the future and are starting to try and grow their families. At the same time, we continue to see misinformation being spread about the COVID-19 vaccine and coronavirus' effect on fertility.
To help clear up any confusion, we chatted with Zermina Akbary, a holistic health and fertility nurse consultant for OvuSense, to break down some common myths and misconceptions about COVID-19 and the impact it has had on fertility. See what she has to say below and find out if you can tell fact from fiction when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine and fertility.
MYTH: The COVID-19 Vaccine Causes Infertility
There is no data that supports this claim. According to the CDC, it is completely safe to get vaccinated if you are pregnant. Not only that, but the COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people who are trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future, as well as their partners. Further, there is no evidence to support that the vaccines cause infertility in men or women. Many women have been able to fall pregnant after vaccination and have had successful fertility treatments after being vaccinated.
Some women may have also seen a theory that the protein in the vaccine will affect the placenta, however at the moment, there is no research or evidence to prove this theory.
FACT: Stress and Infertility Influence Each Other
Over the last two years, I have treated many patients whose fertility journey is being impacted by stress. This is because stress and infertility can certainly influence one another. Infertility can bring on stress and adding the worry of a pandemic definitely adds on another layer to that. Stress also imparts physiological changes that impact fertility. For example, the stress hormone cortisol will compete with progesterone (our pro gestation hormone). In addition, adrenal dysfunction of stress hormone imbalances can cause nutrient deficiencies, thyroid disorders, a dysfunctional immune system and sex hormone imbalances – all which can be a cause for infertility.
In my practice, I have seen firsthand the impact of the pandemic on thyroid issues and changes to menstrual cycles. A recent study published in the Journal of Women's Health covered the impact that COVID-19 stress has had on women's menstruation. Researchers found that since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, 54% of women said that their menstrual cycle had changed in some way. It is believed that the participants who experienced increased stress over the last two years were more likely to experience changes to their period.
MYTH: You Shouldn’t Get Vaccinated if You’re Trying to Have a Baby
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG, recommends vaccination for anyone actively trying to get pregnant or thinking about growing or starting your family. Additionally, they don’t believe it is necessary to delay pregnancy after completing both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Another bonus associated with getting vaccinated? The antibodies you produce to protect against the coronavirus may be passed along to the baby while still in your womb or a newborn that is breastfeeding!
FACT: Pregnant Women are at High Risk of Severe Illness
Many women are fearful that getting the vaccine while pregnant will harm their unborn baby, but the truth is that vaccination protects pregnant people and their babies from severe infection. According to the CDC, expecting mothers who get COVID are twice as likely to be admitted to the ICU and have a 70% increased risk of losing their lives. Pregnant women that contract the virus are also at a greater risk of pregnancy complications and poor pregnancy outcomes. Research also shows that if you get the virus, long-term symptoms of the virus can present due to the virus and this can be more of a risk when it comes to reproductive health.
Still Have Questions? Talk to Your Doctor!
There are so many things that pregnant women are told to avoid during pregnancy that it’s natural to be cautious about the vaccine. Now nearly a year into the vaccination process, we can confidently say there is no evidence that the vaccine poses a risk to pregnant women or their babies. To make sure all of your questions are answered, speak to your doctor about potential risks and come up with a plan that works for you!