Survey shows many people paused efforts to conceive due to COVID-19 pandemic
Most people who were trying to become pregnant or attempted pregnancy before the COVID-19 pandemic but then changed their conception plans said they did so temporarily because of pandemic-related concerns, survey data show.
“We know that COVID-19 can be very detrimental for pregnant people and their fetuses,” Shannon M. Malloy, BS, a researcher at Ovia Health in Boston, said during a prerecorded American Society for Reproductive Medicine Scientific Congress & Expo presentation. “But how did this impact people's decision to risk building families in the United States?”
Malloy and Danielle Bradley, MPH, MS, senior manager of research and insights at Athena Health, administered surveys between March 2020 and April 2021 to 16,527 people who were actively trying to conceive in the 6 months before the COVID-19 pandemic. They found that 10% of respondents changed their conception plans during the last year. While most respondents temporarily delayed efforts due to the COVID-19 pandemic (70%), a smaller group (6%) said they would delay conception attempts “indefinitely” until the pandemic was over.
According to the researchers, specific reasons for “pausing or altogether abandoning conception attempts” — regardless of a respondents’ geographic location or age — included the possible impact COVID-19 would have on them or their fetus (39%), a lack of support from people to assist them with their pregnancy and labor (25%) and worries about their finances or job security (23%).
“An impressive segment of people put their family building plans on hold due to the instability, isolation and insufficient information fostered by the COVID pandemic,” Malloy said. “As the pandemic becomes a normal part of life, some of these individuals may resume their trying-to-conceive journeys, and reproductive health and medical specialists may observe an influx of these patients.”
Malloy encouraged health care professionals to be particularly supportive of these people, especially those whose window to conceive is narrower than others.
Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on couples’ decisions to conceive. https://asrm.informz.net/ASRM/data/images/AM2019-PR/couples.pdf. Published Oct. 15, 2021. Accessed Oct. 15, 2021.
Malloy S, et al. Abstract P-455. Presented at: American Society of Reproductive Medicine Scientific Congress & Expo; Oct. 17-20, 2021; Baltimore (hybrid meeting).