Navigating your GYN concerns in our “New Normal”
Many of our plans came to a screeching halt when the Coronavirus hit. Planning to travel? Nope. Planning a wedding? Might have to think again. Planning on heading to the office or a workout class? Not a chance. Planning to start a family? Well, this ones tricky, and something I’ve been hearing about a lot from friends and family during this quarantine period. And don’t worry ladies – us women’s health specialists have not forgotten about you.
According to the Word Health Organization, about 10% of women are considered infertile. That is a lot of women. This is a difficult situation to be in normally, but with coronavirus it can be even more challenging. Maybe you were just starting to figure out why you and your partner were having issues trying to have a baby. Maybe you know the reason why you’re having trouble and were just getting started with treatment and had to stop your office visits. These are rough times for very many of us, but fertility is incredibly sensitive and difficult on it’s own. Adding this situation on top, I feel for you ladies, I really do.
I have seen a lot of memes online lately joking about a baby boom in about 9 months from now, due to the increased intercourse that is expected when we all can’t be as socially active. It can be hard to see those memes, if you are someone who has been battling issues with fertility and are hopeful that your baby will become part of that coronavirus baby boom.
So, what advice do I have for you ladies? Well, I had to call in some back up by one of my colleagues who is a Fertility Specialist. Dr. Terrence Lewis, a board certified Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist.
The first thing I asked Dr. Lewis was what he would say to a woman who was going through fertility treatments and had to stop. “This is a perfect time to get other things in order that will have you at your best for your journey to having a happy and healthy baby.” I’m going to outline his best recommendations below on how women can spend this time prior to being pregnant to get into tip top shape to have a healthy pregnancy.
- You need a healthy, balanced diet filled with nutritious foods. It may be time to hide some spinach into those loaves of banana bread we’ve all been experimenting with.
- Don’t shoot the messenger, but he also recommended decreasing alcohol consumption to less than 3 drinks per week and caffeine consumption to less than 200mg per day. The things we do for our (future) kids, right? I immediately sighed when he said this because let’s be real ladies, during this time when we’re spending lots of time at home, you can easily drink more wine or coffee!
- Prenatal vitamins. I strongly agree with this. The best time to start a prenatal vitamin is actually before you know that you are pregnant. By the time most women find out that they are pregnant, the baby’s organs have started forming and could use those extra vitamins and minerals that a prenatal vitamin can provide.
- Weight management. Dr. Lewis also talked about trying to maintain or get closer to a healthy weight during this time as a way to not only improve your overall health but also put you in a better place to have a healthy pregnancy.
So, at this point you are wondering, “so yeah, I am doing all of these things but I was in the middle of fertility treatments. My clock is ticking and now everything is delayed. Will these treatments even work when I’m finally able to resume them?”
Dr. Lewis had some very encouraging words to answer that question. “Large studies have shown that delaying in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles for 3 months have not shown a negative impact on a woman’s success with IVF.” Translation: A delay in your IVF treatment for 3 months does not appear to cause an issue with your success in having a baby when you restart your treatments. Let’s hope that we will be back to some semblance of normal, at least in the GYN medical realm in the next few months.
Well, what if it takes a little longer for the world to open back up? I know, I have that concern too. We, in the women’s health community are constantly assessing the situation and are looking at new ways to help women who have health issues, like infertility or pelvic pain, within this unprecedented time.
Ultimately, there is still a lot of uncertainty. This uncertainty can cause a lot of stress. Especially when a woman is struggling with fertility issues, it can cause even more stress and a lot of pain. One thing that myself and Dr. Lewis would love to convey to those of you struggling with fertility issues as much as you can, try to manage your stress and anxiety.
As Dr. Lewis so wisely stated, “Stress impacts fertility negatively. During caveman and cavewoman times, these early humans did not reproduce in times of great stress because their bodies wanted to make sure to not bring in new life during times of possible danger.” Our bodies still have those primitive reactions although we now have lots of ways to protect our young. Our bodies react in similar ways to the stress of working and modern life as they do to seeing a lion circling our hut. It is so hard in general and especially in a time like this but if there are things that you do that are healthy to manage stress, like yoga, meditation, dancing to your music blasting, do those things.
If you’re having a rough time, your GYN provider and your fertility specialist are here for you. I’m also here for you. Feel free to reach out!