When winter descends on us, it brings along its nasty friends, influenza and the common cold. And the cold and flu season stretches from October to as late as May, reaching its peak between December and February. These illnesses are aggravating enough on their own - but many people also worry about getting sick while trying for a baby. This begs the questions: can these diseases affect your chance of getting pregnant? And what steps should you take to protect your health?
Effects of Cold and Flu on Fertility
First thing’s first: from a conception standpoint, it is perfectly safe to have sex while ovulating if you also have a cold or the flu. Conceiving while ill does not increase risks to the pregnancy. Of course, if you are not feeling well enough to have sex, don’t force yourself. This is especially true if your partner has managed not to catch what you have - you don’t want to get them sick, too.
Another thing to consider is how your symptoms may be affecting your perception of your ovulation cycle. The biggest concern when trying to conceive while sick with these illness comes from fever. If you use the basal temperature method to track your ovulation, a fever will make your temperature readings inaccurate and make it harder to determine your most fertile days.
Consider also that, in men, an extended fever can actually harm fertility directly. Studies have shown that a fever of 102 degrees or more for three days or more can temporarily impair sperm production - sometimes for as much as six months! For women, the danger comes early in pregnancy, as fever from the flu can raise your baby’s chance of possible birth defects.
Read: Sleep and Fertility
Keeping Healthy While Trying To Conceive
While there are no major risks to worry about when it comes to cold or flu bugs and your family planning, there are still things you should do to help avoid these pesky germs to ensure they don’t interfere with your efforts. If you are trying to conceive during cold and flu season, you should definitely get a flu shot. In addition to helping you feel your best throughout the season, the vaccine can protect you from catching the flu even after you become pregnant. Pregnant women are at higher risk of dangerous complications from the flu.
Avoid Cold and Flu Medications While TTC
You may want to avoid certain medications for cold and flu if you are trying for a baby. Naproxen, a pain reliever found in brands like Aleve, can reduce fertility. Other medications like cough suppressants and antihistamines can affect the quality of your cervical mucus and prevent sperm from easily making its way into the uterus and beyond to fertilize the egg.
Staying healthy is critical to achieving your best chance to get pregnant. During cold and flu season, you should keep your overall health in mind and talk to your doctor if you are concerned about how these diseases may affect your odds of conception.