Covid-19 and mental health: Anxiety is affecting fertility

Covid-19 and mental health: Anxiety is affecting fertility


By Dr Apurva Satish Amarnath

The second wave of the pandemic continues to witness the constant struggle for the mental well-being of people. This pandemic not only impacts our physical health but has also increased our social and economic hardships challenging many people’s mental wellness. Over the past year, living in a pandemic, it has become evident that the relationship between the body and mind matters for health. The pandemic collective with social distancing guidelines does appear to create a very taxing situation, and a large number of people have been showing mental health symptoms such as stress or anxiety. Couples are feeling more anxious and stressed about bringing a new life into the world. The stress is not creating mental turmoil but its impact on physical health especially on fertility is massive. In fact, stress and anxiety can be triggers for hormonal imbalances and decline in fertility as well.

While there are several ways to consume information on Covid-19, here are some resources that give valid information:

WHO (World Health Organisation) is an agency of the United Nations which deals with international public health. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the pandemic outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and according to WHO, mental illness could escalate during these times. Pregnant mothers and women who are planning to conceive need to be careful during this pandemic. It is important they should attend their routine care, according to local guidelines and following adapted measures to reduce possible transmission of the virus. WHO is one important and certified resource from where information can be gathered as their guidelines are accepted universally.

ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) is an apex body in India for biomedical research. They have shared information that pregnant mothers with cardiac problems are at maximum risk and they must follow the guidelines and take precautions. The pandemic has increased the risk of perinatal anxiety and stress, hence it is important to support pregnant women with every possible support. ICMR provides a lot of information on pregnancy and fertility during covid-19 which is backed by research.

What couples must do to remain calm and composed:

Call to action – Relationships

This pandemic can put a lot of weight on your relationships. Staying connected with your family and loved ones is very important, even if virtually. Their support will strengthen your mental wellbeing. Couples must communicate often and share their emotions as the pandemic can be very stressful. One can seek couples counselling if needed, to understand the dynamics of their relations better.

Committee to your healthy routine to feel normal

While going out is limited due to the pandemic it should not stop us from leading a healthy lifestyle. Proper diet, on-time sleep, and exercise should definitely help to channel your energy.

Revive those pending hobbies 

Keep planning your daily activities and make a list of things you always wanted to do but skipped. It can be a hobby or an activity; get that “Things to do” list going. Utilise your time and make it productive. Pick a hobby together to help you bond.

Know what’s best for you

The feeling of anxiety and stress does have some long-term consequences. Doctors have long understood that infertility is a medical problem that can be triggered by stress, depression, and anxiety. When couples are trying and not getting pregnant after trying for a really long time, it can be heartbreaking and frustrating. Though many people with fertility problems can have a child after treatment, such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), anxiety about whether the treatment will work can also undermine a person’s mental health. It is always recommended to get a fertility consultation before planning to start a family because it will help you understand where you stand and things that need to be worked on.

(The writer is Fertility Consultant at Nova IVF Fertility, Bangalore)


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