Does the coronavirus affect fertility?


The current coronavirus has been a worry for everyone around the world. With it being a new form of coronavirus, named Covid-19, there are still lots of things unknown regarding what harm it can cause in the medium and long-term. Of course, this is a concern for everyone, especially those who may be classed as vulnerable, those who are pregnant and those who are planning for starting a family and are anxious if it will affect fertility.

Unfortunately, as with many aspects during the pandemic, there has been plenty of misinformation that has been published. Reports suggesting that males who have contracted the virus will be infertile are false well as similar claims regarding the production of eggs in females. As a reputable fertility clinic in Bangkok, we hope to give the latest up to date facts regarding the virus and what impact it could have on fertility. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions.

If I contract Covid-19, will I become infertile in the future?

There has been plenty of research conducted in this area, but so far, there is no evidence to suggest that it has any effect on fertility. However, many fertility clinics around the world have reported an increase in the number of women requesting egg freezing, although this “preventive method” measure is not based on medical evidence. We would not advise women to take the precaution purely because of concerns regarding Covid-19, but if it were something you consider before the pandemic, we would be happy to discuss this with you.

Should we stop trying for a baby until the pandemic is over?

We understand that couples are naturally concerned about the virus, but if you or your partner hasn’t got Covid-19, there is no valid medical reason for not continuing to try and conceive. Some medical professionals believe that pregnant women are more “at-risk” should they contract the virus. However, deciding when you want to become pregnant is a very personal decision, and if you have any concerns, you should discuss these with your doctor.

If you or your partner currently has Covid-19, we suggest that you postpone trying for a baby until you are fully recovered. This advice applies to couples who are trying naturally or using assisted reproductive methods.

What impact does the coronavirus have on pregnant women and the unborn baby?

The World Health Organisation (WHO), believes that only around 1% of pregnant women who have the virus experience severe symptoms, putting them at similar risk to other fit and healthy individuals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) however has said that “pregnant people have changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections” and “pregnant people have had a higher risk of severe illness when infected with viruses from the same family as COVID-19 and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza.”

The consensus is that the risk to a healthy unborn child posed by Covid-19 is minimal and parents should not be unduly concerned if for their unborn child if they do contract the virus.

Can Covid-19 be passed from the mother to the child before, during, or after birth?

The CDC says that there is no conclusive evidence regarding this, but they believe that the risk of passing on the virus during pregnancy is minimal. However, after birth, if the child remains in close contact with the mother, and she is still contagious, the risk is significantly higher. Studies are ongoing, and the most significant to date was conducted in Wuhan, China, believed to be the city at the source of the outbreak. In all pregnant women who had recovered from the Covid-19 in the study, the virus was not detected in cord blood, amniotic fluid, or throat swabs from the newborn, or breast milk.

What should I know if we are considering assisted fertility treatment?

As we slowly return to our normal lives, fertility clinics around the world are starting to re-open. Of course, the health and wellbeing of patients, doctors, other medical professional and the rest of our team is of paramount importance. Additional medical checks will be performed throughout your treatment, and any appointments are likely to take longer than before. Our team will discuss your circumstances with you and offer individual advice regarding commencing, continuing or postponing treatment at this stage.

When will things return to normal?

In all aspects of life, not just with regards to fertility treatment, it is impossible to predict when things will return to normal. We are required to work within the constraints imposed by the Thai government and the Ministry of Health, but we anticipate that a “new normal” will return shortly. As we pointed out earlier if you are trying to conceive naturally, there is no medical reason for you to change your plans and our teams will offer advice on regarding assisted pregnancy on an individual basis.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus in children?

The symptoms of coronavirus in children are the same as in adults, namely a persistent and continuous cough, high temperature and a loss of taste and/or smell. The WHO reports that the symptoms in otherwise healthy children tend to be milder with many even being asymptomatic. However, they are still as contagious as adults, so care and self-isolation for the family for 14 days is required.

How to reduce your chances of contracting the coronavirus

Regardless of if you are planning on becoming pregnant or not, you should take all necessary precautions to minimise your chances of contracting the virus. This includes:

  1. Frequently washing hands with soap and water for more than 20 seconds
  2. Avoiding touching your face particularly your eyes and mouth as much as possible
  3. Practice social distancing and wear and mask when out in public
  4. If you or someone in your household displays the symptoms of the virus, they should self-isolate for 14 days
  5. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing to reduce the risk of spreading the infection
  6. Frequently clean all harder surfaces with alcohol-based disinfectants or bleach

Further Advice

If you would like more information about the coronavirus and how it affects fertility, please contact us here.