While many couples may still be putting off having children until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, for others this year, baby-making is top of mind as both women and men consider moving forward with their family building plans. Mary Jane Minkin, MD, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Yale University and founder of MadameOvary.com advises on several topics couples should be aware of including how to maximize fertility, questions regarding the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, new findings on marijuana usage and fertility, and more.
"The last 13 months have certainly demonstrated that even in the most unpredictable of times, we can take comfort in the fact that millions of babies will continue to be born around the world, with long, healthy lives ahead of them," says Dr. Minkin. "Couples looking to get pregnant this year should maintain a positive approach to pregnancy, utilize resources available to them, and remember that they are not alone on their journey."
Dr. Minkin shares the following advice with TTC patients:
- First things, first—a few lifestyle adjustments: Be as close to your ideal body weight as possible; perhaps keeping up with New Year’s resolutions to eat healthy and exercise. If you take any prescription medications for medical conditions, it is wise to consult with your obstetrician to see if they are suitable for pregnancy — and to switch you if there are better medications for pregnancy. Refrain from smoking, drinking alcohol, and using recreational drugs when pregnant or during the TTC process. While research on marijuana usage before and during pregnancy is limited, a recent study from the National Institute of Health showed that cannabis users were 41% less likely to get pregnant than non-users.
- No, the COVID-19 vaccine will not cause infertility: While women should always consult their healthcare provider before getting vaccinated if they have concerns, there is no evidence that the authorized COVID-19 vaccines impact fertility or pregnancy. In fact, particularly for pregnant women, many health officials advise that the virus poses greater risk than any potential vaccination effects.
- OTC products can help: Trying to conceive can be a stressful process that can cause vaginal dryness, especially during sex on demand when you know you are ovulating. Pre-Seed Fertility Friendly Lubricant can help when it is inserted with an applicator close to the cervix immediately before sex. It is designed to keep sperm healthy and strong on its journey to meet the egg and does not interfere with sperm mobility like traditional lubricants. When you think you may be pregnant — the earlier you know, the better. New innovations in pregnancy testing, like the new EasyRead app from First Response, doubles the confirmation of tests results, by converting the lines of the First Response Early Result or Rapid Result analog tests to display the words, ‘Pregnant’ or ‘Not Pregnant’ right on your smartphone.
- Begin taking prenatal vitamins when you start trying—don’t wait until pregnant: I encourage all my patients to take folic acid supplementation before they conceive — at least 400 micrograms per day, as we know that women on folic acid supplementation can significantly reduce the risk of certain birth defects, like spina bifida. The vitafusion Prenatal gummy vitamins are easy to take and provide 100 percent DV folic acid, 50 mg Omega-3 DHA, and vitamins A, C, and D.
- Finally, stay hopeful and seek support if needed: You may get pregnant the first time you try — but that’s unusual. If you are under the age of 35 and have been trying for over a year, or over the age of 35 and have been trying for six months, do contact your OB/GYN as 1 in 8 couples in the US struggle to conceive. For resources, virtual support groups, and education, visit RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association.
"The journey to pregnancy is an exciting one, so remember to try and enjoy it. And of course, continue following all CDC recommendations and safety measures during this time to ensure the healthiest pregnancy possible," adds Minkin.
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