Covid-19 has waylaid pregnancy plans for a whole lot of couples seeking fertility help. If you’re one of them, then read what fertility and IVF specialist Dr Namita Kotia has to say about what you should do next
There is hardly any arena of our lives that Covid-19 hasn’t affected. While our physical and mental health has been the most obvious victims of the pandemic, best-laid plans that have been going awry since 2020 are rarely acknowledged. And nobody knows this better than couples who were planning for a pregnancy and seeking fertility treatments shortly before the novel coronavirus hit.
“Covid-19 has majorly disrupted infertility treatments. Couples are either waiting on their dream or watching it disappear altogether,” says fertility and IVF specialist Dr Namita Kotia.
Adds Dr Kotia, who is also the director of Aastha Fertility Care in Jaipur: “Patients on chemotherapy, patients of advanced maternal age, and patients who have low ovarian reserve have been significantly impacted by a delay in treatments.”
As we prepare to enter the third year of living in the midst of a pandemic, it’s time to understand what YOU need to do next if you want to realize your dream of parenthood.
Start your planning your family if you’re medically fit
“There is absolutely no doubt that the Covid crisis has triggered a worldwide suspension of fertility treatments. But now with the availability of vaccines, fertility treatment should not be delayed,” stresses Dr Kotia.
If you have recovered from Covid-19 and are medically fit, it is time to start planning your family—especially if you are in your late 30s or early 40s. Suggesting that men and women in the 40- to 42-year age group are facing the maximum brunt of infertility in the light of Covid-19, the expert says: “They are estimated to have an 11.8% reduction in live births if their treatment is delayed for six months and a 22.4% reduction if it was a year-long delay.”
Open up to your doctor about your fears
While not everybody has had to face the brunt of getting infected by SARS-CoV-2, almost every person on this pandemic-riddled planet has dealt with extreme stress in the past two years. Be it the stress of working from home or anxiety stemming from the very real scenario of testing positive—no matter the cause, all that negativity is bound to mess up your internal wiring, including your reproductive health. That’s why Dr Kotia suggests seeking counsel from your fertility expert as you take a conscious step towards planning a baby, especially if you have been unsuccessful in getting pregnant on your own.
And if the fear of venturing into a clinic during these uncertain times is ricocheting in your head, then read what the specialist has to say: “The very nature of fertility treatment involves a number of necessary face-to-face interactions. But the psychological stress and constant fear of Covid tends to take a toll on couples who need them. Couples who have apprehensions should be managed by a team comprising a fertility specialist, a counsellor, and a psychologist.”
So if you’re thinking of going in for fertility treatments, ensure that the clinic of your choice has counsellors on their panel, who along with your fertility doctor, can guide you through the next steps. “Couples need continual reaffirming of good health and not just a single assessment,” Dr Kotia suggests.
Get vaccinated before you plan anything
Following any and all Covid protocols is a no-brainer. But just in case you need a reminder, take Dr Kotia’s advice and get yourself vaccinated, avoid excessive socialisation, and let go of your plans of travelling.
“Given the increased risks associated with Covid-19 in pregnancy, pregnant women are also advised to take the vaccine. As far as those who are planning pregnancies are concerned, they can rest assured vaccination does not harm fertility—and there is plenty of evidence to show this,” she says.
If you’re worried about the Omicron variant, then read this
For couples at an advanced age and pre-existing reproductive health conditions, it’s not just the fear of Covid-19 that’s looming large—it’s also infertility. Says Dr Kotia: “This threat of looming infertility invites a host of negative emotions leaving couples feeling stressed, anxious, and hopeless.”
With the constant news of mutant coronavirus, planning a pregnancy can get all the more difficult. “But I feel couples should continue with their fertility treatment with vaccine immunisation and follow strict covid protocols,” she concludes.
Dr Namita Kotia