COVID-19 has directly affected millions of people since 2020. For individuals trying to conceive, there are concerns about the chances of getting pregnant if you or your partner have been infected with COVID-19 at any point, as well as concerns that the COVID-19 vaccine could impact fertility.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) has shared research that shows COVID-19 vaccination did not reduce the chances of conception - yet a level of skepticism about vaccines still remains. To help ease COVID-19-related questions and concerns from individuals and couples who are trying to conceive, it’s essential to get fertility tested in order to monitor your reproductive health and better understand your options for fertility treatments, if applicable.
Continue reading to learn about the potential impacts COVID-19 can have on fertility.
How COVID-19 Affects the Immune System
While COVID-19 may not directly impact the effectiveness of fertility treatments, a patient could see lasting effects in their immune system response, once diagnosed.
When an invasive pathogen enters the body, dendritic cells (DCs) initiate immune responses and produce antibodies against the intruder. A team led by immunology professor Anne Krug at LMU Medical Center conducted a study on COVID-19’s effect on the immune system. Their findings suggest that COVID-19 alters the state of DCs.
The LMU team’s analysis discovered fewer DCs in the COVID-19 patients’ blood samples compared to those in the healthy control group. While 90% of patients developed antibodies against the COVID-19 protein, the alteration to the immune system is significant. It may suggest a reduced response to other infections following COVID-19.
There are easy at-home tests available for individuals to purchase that can provide helpful information related to COVID-19’s impact on the immune system. IHD’s Covid Neutralizing Antibody at-home test (CNAB test) detects SARS-COV-2 neutralizing antibodies that your body produces in response to a previous exposure to Covid-19 - either from infection or a vaccine. Learn more here.
COVID-19 May Reduce AMH Levels in Women
The Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) level is used to check a woman’s ability to produce eggs that are viable to be fertilized for pregnancy. For women who are considering starting a family or may want to become pregnant in the near future, an AMH fertility test is recommended so you know your level ahead of your journey.
According to a 2021 study performed in Wuhan, China, a COVID-19 infection was a contributing factor in the reduction of AMH levels in reproductive-aged women. This study notes that other factors, such as pandemic-related stress and an excessive immune/inflammatory response to COVID-19, could also lead to ovarian injury, including lower AMH hormone levels.
Understanding the Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH)
Higher AMH levels: The higher the number of viable eggs and the higher a woman’s ovarian reserve translates to an increased chance of getting pregnant.
Lower AMH levels: A fewer number of viable eggs and a lower ovarian reserve translates to a decreased chance of getting pregnant. In this case, a fertility specialist may recommend treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).
While the AMH level can be tested to provide valuable information about a patient’s fertility as it monitors overall ovarian health and determines the ovarian reserve, the hormone isn’t the only factor that can affect fertility success. Factors such as immunity strength, stress levels, health conditions like diabetes, and more may indicate whether a patient can produce the necessary nutrients to develop a baby. The health of the immune system also plays a role in the success of a patient’s fertility.
Additionally, infertility is often associated with women’s health, but it is also common for men to experience infertility. Let’s explore how COVID-19 affects men’s fertility.
Can COVID-19 Reduce Male Fertility?
Approximately 10% of the U.S. male population experience infertility in their lifetime. Infertility may be a concern for men who were diagnosed with COVID-19 between 2020 and 2022.
Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, an associate profession with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, suggests that COVID-19 can decrease sperm count for up to three to six months, affecting the male body’s ability to fertilize his partner’s egg successfully, and therefore causing infertility.
Although this is a short-term effect on the sperm count, COVID-19’s presence in the penis may also cause other irregularities such as erectile dysfunction, which reduces a man’s ability to fertilize their partner’s eggs. If you’re experiencing infertility, you might consider options such as semen analysis, which can help you understand your reproductive system health.
Male fertility can be determined by performing a semen analysis. However, your immune system health may also be an indicator of fertility success.
How Does the Immune System Impact the Reproductive System?
Aside from established immune disorders in a patient’s medical history, an immune system that has been altered by COVID-19 may affect a person’s fertility. Existing immune disorders can include:
The immune system triggers specific blood vessels to create and grow the placenta needed to develop a healthy baby. Abnormal immune function can work against a female body’s attempt to nurture an embryo, increasing the risk for a miscarriage or other birthing issues.
It’s important to stay updated on your reproductive health – and Innovative Health Diagnostics (IHD) can help.
Monitor Your Fertility Health With At-Home Tests from IHD
While COVID-19 could impact one’s ability to become pregnant in certain circumstances, fertility treatment can be a viable solution. You can stay on top of your reproductive health by getting accurate, dependable testing through IHD’s CLIA-FDA accredited lab right in the comfort of your own home.
IHD offers a full suite of at-home healthcare tests, including IVF, AMH, semen analysis and STDs, to name a few. IHD’s team is ready to answer your questions and to help you alongside your fertility journey.
Contact us today for more information on how fertility testing can help provide you with clarity at any stage of your fertility journey - whether you have or have not been infected with COVID-19.