How does COVID-19 affect fertility and fertility treatments?

We’ve been getting a lot of questions from our Ovally community on how COVID-19 might affect fertility, as well as access to fertility treatments in the US and in Europe. But before we dive into this content, we’d like to send our heartfelt well-wishes to you, dear readers, and hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe. For the purposes of this post, we’ll stay focused on fertility; if you’re looking for more detailed information on COVID-19, here’s the latest from the CDC. We’ll keep updating this post as more information becomes available.

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How much can stress affect fertility?

Intuitively, you may assume that stress affects fertility, and the existing research confirms this hunch: Higher levels of stress are linked to longer time to conception and a higher risk of infertility. Similarly, treatment outcomes appear to be worse in fertility patients that suffer from stress and anxiety, particularly if it’s affecting the hopeful parents’ relationship. That’s one of the reasons we created Ovally – to provide you with the emotional, logistical, and educational support you deserve, and to turn your treatment into a relaxing getaway. The research on fertility and stress also had a few surprising findings:

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Does my weight affect my fertility?

With New Year’s resolutions still going strong, your weight in relation to your fertility may be on your mind. Research shows that a body mass index (BMI) between 20-25 is ideal to conceive, and losing or gaining weight to fall into that range can significantly improve your fertility outcomes. Most research uses the BMI as a function of weight and height – if you’d like to figure out yours, here’s an easy calculator to do so. Since BMI is not a perfect measure (e.g., it doesn’t distinguish between fat and muscle), we recommend you also discuss your weight with your doctor. Here’s the more detailed high-quality research on weight and fertility:

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The diagnoses behind fertility issues (2/4): Diminished ovarian reserve

Earlier this year we began looking into the diagnoses behind fertility issues, starting with ovulatory dysfunction. In this post, we’ll be digging into the most common diagnosis, “diminished ovarian reserve”, affecting 31% of cases in the CDC’s report, which is based on ~260k IVF cycles performed in the US. Diminished ovarian reserve does not only affect IVF treatment but any kind of fertility (preservation) treatment, making it particularly relevant for the Ovally community.

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How to manage PCOS symptoms

PCOS affects between 4-20% of women, often goes undiagnosed, and has no definitive diagnostic test. In addition, its symptoms ranging from weight gain to irregular or missing periods, excess hair growth, ovarian cysts, low blood sugar, fatigue, and others are challenging to manage. If you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS or have at least a subset of the symptoms, how can you effectively manage them?

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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – what is it, and how do I figure out if I have it?

September is PCOS Awareness Month, so we are launching a short series on this important topic. PCOS is the most common “endocrine” (i.e., affecting the glands that secrete hormones or other products directly into the blood) disorder among women. PCOS affects between 4-20% of women, depending on the study and the exact diagnostic criteria used. If you’re thinking that we don’t talk enough about something that affects so many women, we couldn’t agree more. So let’s dive in:

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Which vitamins and supplements help improve my fertility?

Today’s post in our series on lifestyle & fertility focuses on vitamins and supplements. Taking vitamins and supplements in preparation for fertility treatment is something that we can control and that’s easy to do. But what’s been shown to help fertility outcomes? What has been tested but shown no or inconclusive results? We’ll discuss folic acid, vitamin D, and antioxidants below – some of the results surprised us. As usual, ask your doctor prior to your treatment for their recommendations and guidance, as they may be aware of even more recent unpublished research.

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Can I drink alcohol before or during fertility treatment?

The question of drinking before and during fertility treatment tends to bring out strong opinions. It also comes up a lot with our Ovally customers: “Can I have at least a little Spanish wine during treatment?”. For the purpose of this post, we are going to focus on alcohol consumption before and during fertility treatment until conception only, and leave out any research on pregnancy and alcohol. As usual, check with your doctor on their guidance regarding alcohol intake during any fertility treatment. We’re summarizing the findings of high-quality research studies for you, but your doctor may have access to relevant, yet to be published findings.

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How does exercise affect my fertility?

We’re surrounded by positive messages about exercising, yet there are surprisingly few quality studies that have looked at a potential link between exercise and fertility. We know that female athletes often have irregularities with their cycles, and that high levels of exercise seem to be associated with longer menstrual cycles. Research on fertility patients has been inconclusive – one study showed that moderate exercise was correlated with a lower likelihood of having a baby, another showed the opposite.

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