Should You Stop Trying to Get Pregnant Because of COVID-19?

Key Takeaways

  • Pandemic or not, knowing when it's the right time to have a baby is a personal decision; there is no right or wrong answer.
  • It's important to consider your personal circumstances and medical history.
  • Discuss with your doctor if you have any COVID-19-related health concerns that keep you from wanting to conceive.

If you have been considering starting or expanding your family, the COVID-19 pandemic may have caused you to reevaluate your plans—or at least contemplate them again in a new light.

You may be wondering if now really is the best time to get pregnant. Are there added risks that you need to consider?

Given the uncertainty of the short-term future, there is a lot to think about. We consulted with several different MDs about this very topic—and their insights should prove helpful as you make the best decision for your family.

Is Now a Good Time to Get Pregnant?

First of all, it’s important to note that there is no one right answer here. Everyone is different and has different life circumstances to contend with. Therefore, it is best to make this decision along with your partner and with the guidance of your doctor or midwife.

“This is a very personal question that each woman has to answer herself (or with a partner),” says Eduardo Hariton, MD, an OB/GYN and clinical fellow at the University of California San Francisco. Dr. Hariton points out that, as of now, no national guidelines are recommending that couples stop trying to conceive.

Eduardo Hariton, MD

That said, it is a time of personal, social, financial, and emotional uncertainty, so some may choose to delay their plans and get more information.

— Eduardo Hariton, MD

Factors to Consider

Your Age

Your age may be a key factor to weigh as you make this decision. Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University, says that in general, the younger you are, the more advisable it may be to delay getting pregnant—and vice versa.

“If a woman is older, say 42 years old, and time is of the essence, she may well want to continue to work on getting pregnant,” says Dr. Minkin. “But if you are younger, you may just want to wait a bit for things to clarify.”

Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh, reproductive endocrinologist and advisor at Proov, advises that people over the age of 35 may not want to wait to try conceiving and that these people should consult with their doctors to figure out what makes the most sense for them.

Aimee Eyvazzadeh, MD

If you're over 35 and don't already have one baby and want to have two, waiting longer may not be a good idea because of your age.

— Aimee Eyvazzadeh, MD

Your Job

Your place of work can have an impact on your risk of contracting COVID-19, so that’s something to consider as well.

“If you're working in a high-risk setting: health care worker or grocery store clerk, for example, it may be a good idea to ask for work accommodations if you are pregnant and if you can't get them, then make the decision that's best for you and choose one or the other,” advises Dr. Eyvazzadeh.

“If you're the breadwinner of your family and your boss won't let you work from home, then it may be better to wait,” Dr. Eyvazzadeh suggests.

You may also want to consider whether your employer will let you work from home because being able to do so is one of the primary ways to keep yourself safe during a pandemic.

Your Pregnancy Risk Factors

Dr. Eyvazzadeh advises that people who have a history of high-risk pregnancies or who have medical factors that put them at risk should not consider getting pregnant at this time. Of course, you should speak to your doctor about what your particular risk factors are and how they may impact your pregnancy at this time. But, again, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach here.

Access to Prenatal Care

Another thing to consider is how the pandemic might impact your access to medical care.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the reallocation of medical resources,” explains Dr. Hariton. “We don’t know what prenatal care access is going to look like during this pandemic, and while prenatal care is and will always be essential, it may be more difficult to access during this time.”

COVID-19 isn’t just affecting people who become ill with the virus—it’s impacting entire medical systems in some areas and how medicine is practiced in general.

In addition, says Dr. Hariton, you’ll want to consider how the pandemic may impact your labor and delivery experience. Early on in the pandemic, hospitals placed limits on the number of visitors a laboring person could have, for example. If future surges in cases arise, some of these restrictions may be reinstated.

What Is COVID-19’s Impact on Pregnant People and Babies?

As you make this decision, you will also want to educate yourself on the impact that the virus may have on your pregnancy, your own health, and the health of your baby. According to the CDC, pregnant people are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. In addition, they are at increased risk of preterm birth and may be at increased risk for other adverse pregnancy outcomes.

The COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials did not include pregnant people, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC have closely monitored vaccines given to pregnant people. Early data has not identified any safety concerns for pregnant people or their babies. Pregnant people can receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and available to everyone 12 and older. The CDC recommends getting the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can.

What Should You Do If You've Been Trying for a While?

A couple who has been trying for a while to get pregnant without success or who has known fertility issues will have other factors to consider as they make their decision.

“If you have been trying for more than 12 months, or six months if over 35, you should seek an evaluation from a fertility specialist,” says Dr. Hariton. A fertility specialist or reproductive endocrinologist can help you weigh your options given the current circumstances.

The American Society of Reproductive Medicine recommends that pregnant people and those contemplating pregnancy receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, they affirm CDC guidance that everyone in healthcare settings wears masks. Finally, they support the presence of partners at reproductive health appointments, as long as they mask and are not exhibiting symptoms of illness.

“Nonetheless, many clinics are offering telemedicine evaluations, and I encourage women who are in this situation to seek those out and get the process started,” Dr. Hariton advises. “If you are already under the care of a fertility specialist, reach out to your physician to see how their policies have changed in the setting of COVID-19.”

What to Know About Assisted Reproduction

Unfortunately, if you are considering using assisted reproduction—such as IVF, embryo transfers, or are planning on being a donor or surrogate—your options may be very limited at this time.

On March 17, 2020, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) issued specific guidelines concerning assisted reproduction in the time of COVID-19, stipulating:

  • Any new, non-urgent assisted reproduction treatments should be halted. These include, as described by ASRM: “ovulation induction, intrauterine inseminations (IUIs), in vitro fertilization (IVF) including retrievals and frozen embryo transfers, as well as non-urgent gamete cryopreservation.”
  • ASRM is asking healthcare providers to “strongly consider” ending embryo transfers (fresh and frozen)
  • If you are in the middle of an assisted reproductive cycle, your care can continue. Patients who require “urgent stimulation and cryopreservation” may also continue to receive medical attention.
  • ASRM has also recommended that all elective surgeries and non-emergency diagnostic procedures be discontinued. Instead, assisted reproductive specialists are urged to use telehealth services.

This came as a blow to anyone who had been eagerly waiting to begin assisted reproduction treatment. But these guidelines were ultimately in place for everyone’s safety, and eventually were modified or lifted.

How to Handle Changed Pregnancy Plans

Some couples will conclude that trying to get pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic is the right choice for them. But others will decide to delay getting pregnant, either because of a doctor recommendation or their own personal risk assessment.

If you choose to delay, it’s natural that you will feel disappointed—and you are allowed to feel that way. It can be really upsetting to see your plans change so quickly and for the decision to feel like it’s out of your control.

Dr. Minkin urges anyone who is feeling let down to try to see the silver lining in all this. Even if you conclude that this isn’t the right time to conceive, it may be a great opportunity to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy down the road. This way, says Dr. Minkin, you can stop feeling like you are “wasting your time” while you wait.

Here are some healthy habits that Dr. Minkin suggest you focus on:

  • Start taking a prenatal vitamin. Make sure it has folic acid, which decreases your baby’s chance of being born with neural tube defects.
  • Work on maintaining healthy eating habits and exercising.
  • If you smoke, work on quitting.

Considering pregnancy during a pandemic is not something any of us signed up for! If you are feeling lost, frustrated, scared, or disappointed, that is completely understandable. Not that long ago, the world looked a lot different than it does right now, and everyone’s hopes and dreams had to be altered suddenly and without much warning. If you feel like the rug has been pulled out from under you, you are not alone.

It can be particularly heartbreaking if your plans have had to be quickly altered, especially if you feel like you are in a time crunch—that your biological clock is ticking and that you don’t have even a few months to spare. Your fears about giving birth during the COVID-19 epidemic can unleash a lot of upsetting and intense feelings.

What This Means For You

If you have trouble processing the impact COVID-19 is having on your pregnancy plans, you might consider talking to a therapist or counselor—many of whom are offering telemedicine services. You can also contact your doctor or midwife for support and answer any questions you may have about this constantly evolving situation.

The point is that your feelings are normal and completely valid—and that help is out there to help you process them and feel better.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Investigating the impact of COVID-19 during pregnancy.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 vaccines while pregnant or breastfeeding.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Your COVID-19 vaccination.

  4. American Society of Reproductive Medicine. COVID-19 task force update #15.

By Wendy Wisner
Wendy Wisner is a lactation consultant and writer covering maternal/child health, parenting, general health and wellness, and mental health. She has worked with breastfeeding parents for over a decade, and is a mom to two boys.