Coronavirus or SARSCoV2 virus is a rapidly spreading virus that can primarily attack the respiratory organs. However, recent studies reveal that the long-term effects of the virus can be concerning in the upcoming years or decades. Infertility in both men and women is one of the major side-effects that can be observed in future. Low sperm count, erectile problems in men, reduced ovarian reserve and uterine receptivity in women are some of the key determining factors of coronavirus fertility issues.
Spiking cases of women being affected with coronavirus during pregnancy and before conception also raises concern over the impact of covid 19 on pregnancy and child health. The call of the situation demands covid19 vaccination as the only way to minimize the risks of coronavirus and the same is considered safe. It is also necessary to understand that the covid 19 vaccines do not impact fertility.
Get all your questions answered and have a clear understanding of all your doubts on coronavirus infertility through this article.
1. What do researchers say about COVID-19 and Fertility?
Since the end of 2019, the outbreak of pandemic has created havoc; where on one hand the governments of almost 123 affected countries are bringing up various measures to curb the spread. On the other hand, scientists and researchers throughout the world are constantly working on various aspects of how the coronavirus can impact human health in the long run. One of the most researched areas of covid 19 impact is infertility and reproductive medicine.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus2 (SARS CoV2), or novel coronavirus is a significantly contagious virus that not only affects the respiratory system but can also impair the non-respiratory organs such as kidneys, liver, brain, and heart. Studies also show the Covid 19 impact on fertility in both men and women. Similar to mumps, HIV, herpes, and other viruses, coronavirus too can infect the genital organs and cause their impairment. However, researchers rule out coronavirus to be the transporter of any kind of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and causing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Covid 19 impact on male fertility: ACE2 receptors are the entry points of coronavirus. These ACE2 receptors are expressed by different tissues of various organs including the lungs, kidneys, heart, gastrointestinal organs, and testis. The spiked or crown-shaped coronavirus attaches to these ACE2 receptors to further neutralize the immune system, thus leading to alveolar damage of the lungs, respiratory failure, gastrointestinal reflexes, neural damage, and so on. As ACE2 receptors are predominantly seen in the testis, epididymis, and prostate tissues, Covid 19 can infect the male genital tissues causing structural and functional changes in the testis and epididymis.
Another theory explains that the infection of SARS Cov2 can cause inflammation of the male reproductive organs leading to an increase in temperature which can damage the spermatogenesis process, reduce sperm count, and formation of morphologically poor sperms. The ACE2 receptors of the brain when affected with the coronavirus can alter the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Gonadal axis causing changes in the hormonal concentrations subsequently inhibiting reproductive function and impacting sperm quality. Certain case studies in India have shown DNA fragmentation and sperm DNA damage in a few covid affected men.
Covid 19 impact on female infertility: In Women, the ACE2 receptors are highly expressed in the ovaries, uterus, placenta and helps regulate follicular development and ovulation. Women infected with the SARS CoV2 experience reduced ovarian reserve, damaged ovarian tissues and endometrial epithelial layer. Another receptor that the SARS CoV2 can attack is the BSG (Basigin) receptors disrupting the Hypothalamic- Pituitary- Gonadal axis leading to altered immune responses and sex hormones. BSG is expressed in the uterus, stromal, and granulosa cells of the ovary and plays a key role in follicular development, corpus luteum formation, and embryo implantation.
2. Is it safe to conceive during the Covid-19 pandemic?
One may need to plan their pregnancy during the pandemic and feel skeptical about the safety of the child and the mother. Covid 19 has gripped the world for more than a year now. But advanced research, scientific methods of handling situations can assure safe conception during the pandemic with no major covid 19 impacts on reproduction. The best way to move ahead with the situation is by maintaining the Covid 19 protocols strictly set by ICMR in India for a hassle-free pregnancy in a pandemic situation.
- Pregnant women are advised to avoid crowded places/social gatherings.
- Wear a mask while moving out or meeting people with frequent washing of hands.
- Restrict your visit to the clinics.
- Nowadays video calls and teleconsultation facilities can help you with regular doctor appointments.
- Visit the doctor in case of emergency, Ultrasound, physical exams, and other lab work only with mask-on.
- Maintain social distance while in public places.
3. Are there any Complications in Pregnancy due to Covid?
The risk of covid 19 to pregnant women is low when the infection is mild or asymptomatic. It is also unlikely that the child may get covid 19 during pregnancy. It seldom causes serious effects on the pregnant woman and the unborn child. However, severe covid infections can increase the risk of premature delivery or delivery before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy and increase pregnancy loss risk as well.
Pregnant women with higher body mass index, associated medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, or blood pressure might have increased covid 19 risks. Covid 19 infection during pregnancy in such women is more likely to have preeclampsia (a condition where the blood pressure increases suddenly during pregnancy and the child may get less oxygen and less nutrient supply) and preterm delivery.
C-section delivery is majorly observed in pregnant mothers with coronavirus illness. Babies born to women with severe covid can have a low weight at birth and may need intensive care support during the neonatal stages of development.
4. Will COVID-19 Infection affect my baby?
The initial research conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) suggests that the covid 19 virus does not penetrate through the cells of the placenta and the chances of a child being born with covid 19 are very low.
Additionally, an NIH-supported study also indicates that the women suffering from covid during pregnancy develop antibodies against SARS CoV2 through covid 19 infections. These antibodies are transferred to the child either through the bloodstream before birth or through breast milk after birth that can help gain immunity.
5. Can Covid Vaccine make you Sterile?
Vaccinations for covid 19 help develop antibodies against the virus and are effective against the SARS CoV2 variants as well. The covid 19 vaccination not only acts as a shield against covid 19 but also helps reduce the risks of severe infections caused due to it.The Government of India has brought in various campaigns and awareness programs that show vaccinations are even safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Scientific evidence and statistics on covid 19 vaccine impact on fertility also suggest that covid 19 vaccinations do not cause male infertility or female infertility or sterility and so are regarded as safe for pregnant women as well as for those who are trying to get pregnant.
6.Fertility specialist in Delhi
Fertility clinics and fertility specialists in Delhi and other regions in India need to ensure that they follow the ICMR covid guidelines that are mandatory in view of the current covid 19 situation. At OMYA, the fertility specialists and staff members are aware and trained to safely care for the mother and the child while taking precautions against the spread and transmission of coronavirus. Here are some of the measures taken by the clinic’s staff and specialists at OMYA.
- Use of PPE kits
- Disinfecting the equipments
- Following sanitization protocols
- Maintaining hand hygiene
- Adjusting the schedules and appointments to avoid crowding at the clinic
- Prioritizing telehealth consultations
- Meeting the patients only when necessary
The outbreak of the covid 19 pandemics has brought in medical emergencies and life-threatening situations worldwide. Clinical evidence shows that SARS CoV2 can invade multiple tissues/organs causing it’s damage and the male and female reproductive organs are no exception. Testicular dysfunction, prostate problems, erectile issues in men, endometrial damage, reduced ovarian reserve, and implantation issues in women are some of the coronavirus fertility conditions. OMYA can help you through your fertility issues during the pandemic.
OMYA applies cutting-edge technology to deliver you the best. We offer you comprehensive care ranging from fertility treatments to pregnancy care and childbirth. At OMYA we follow and maintain all the necessary covid 19 norms ensuring the safety of mother as well as the child.