When all you want to see is a big fat positive on a pregnancy test, any little blip in your journey can make you anxious. If you’ve been tracking your ovulation and getting busy at the right times, you might be increasing your chances of pregnancy. But if you come down with the flu or other illness during your ovulation days, you might worry about the impact it will have on your fertility. Can being sick during ovulation affect your chances of getting pregnant?
Most people trying to conceive are well-versed on the habits that improve your chances of getting pregnant and the things you should stop doing in order to boost your luck. Get lots of sleep, eat healthy, exercise, and do the dirty a lot. Cut back on caffeine and drinking, tone down the junk food, and quit smoking if you do. But even if you follow the protocol to a T, there’s only so many things within your control. And while you can control how much water you take in each day, you can’t exactly avoid getting sick. Is this something to worry about?
Will being sick affect your chances of getting pregnant?
Whether your sickness is a stomach bug or flu caused by a virus or a tooth or skin infection from bacteria, being sick during ovulation should not affect your odds of conception. “Sickness can have various impacts on your body, including its ability to ovulate,” board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Kerry-Anne Perkins, M.D. tells Romper. “However, common illnesses such as the common cold, other upper respiratory infections such as a sinus infection or ear infection, or mild infections from a stomach bug likely will not affect your ovulation,” she says, adding that there’s really no evidence to suggest that the flu prevents ovulation either. “What we do know is that fevers kill sperm, so they may be affected if your body temperature is high (body temperature greater than 100.4 Fahrenheit).”
Can being sick affect your period?
Even if the sickness itself doesn’t directly affect your fertility, a byproduct of being under the weather could. Being sick can most definitely affect your period. “When you are suffering from an illness, your body is actively undergoing stress,” Perkins explains. “Stress is one of the major disruptors of normal bodily function.” Perkins says there are two ways stress might affect your period. For one, it can increase the hormone cortisol. “High levels of cortisol can block ovulation (leading to skipped periods) or can increase the length of your cycles,” she notes. Second, stress can cause a condition called hypothalamic amenorrhea. When this occurs, the hormones in charge of stimulating ovulation may stop working, which can result in missed periods, according to Perkins.
Which long-term illnesses can affect fertility?
There are some medical issues and other chronic illnesses that can affect your chances of getting pregnant. “Disorders that may affect ovulation include thyroid disease, obesity, diabetes or insulin resistance, and eating disorders with reduced body weight,” Dr. Barry Witt, M.D., a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and medical director of WINFertility and Greenwich Fertility, tells Romper. Conception cannot occur without ovulation, and these disorders can result in a lack of ovulation or irregular menstrual periods, he explains. Any chronic illness that causes excessive weight loss or weight gain can also reduce fertility.
Extra weight can cause excess estrogen, a hormone that acts as a sort of natural birth control by stopping ovulation or a normal period. “This is because fat cells produce a form of estrogen that can overwhelm and block your internal system from functioning normally,” Perkins explains. “This often prevents ovulation and periods from occurring.” On the other hand, being underweight can also stop ovulation and a regular menstrual cycle “by causing the brain to not release sex hormones,” says Perkins. “This is called hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. These sex hormones are responsible for causing ovulation.” Other illnesses that can affect fertility include PCOS, endometriosis, cancer (including treatments like chemotherapy and radiation), and fibrosis.
Are there any other ways being sick can stop me from getting pregnant?
Something else that can affect your chances of getting pregnant? Not feeling well enough to have sex. Perkins says that sickness may impact sexual desire and other components of getting the “deed” done. When you feel congested or nauseated, sex might not be as fun as it usually is, but feeling sick while having sex won’t decrease your odds of getting pregnant.
If you do have an infection, your doctor may have prescribed antibiotics or asked you to take other medications. “There is very little evidence to suggest that antibiotics or over-the-counter cold remedies may affect female fertility,” Perkins explains. “Male fertility is often more of a concern, as sperm may not function well and sperm production can decrease,” she adds. “Once pregnancy is achieved, antibiotics and over-the-counter medications such as decongestants can affect a growing pregnancy.” This is why it’s crucial to tell your doctor if you’re pregnant before taking any new medications.
Some psychotropic drugs — antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, mood stabilizers, and stimulants — can disrupt ovulation. “Psychotropic drugs are medications that affect the chemical makeup of the brain and central nervous system,” Perkins tells Romper. “These are often used to treat mental disorders. They can alter menstrual cycles, and some have even been proven to suppress ovulation.” If you are concerned about any medications interfering with your ovulation or fertility, make sure to voice your concerns to your doctor or fertility specialist. They can give you the answers and options best suited for your condition.
Can you still track your fertility according to your basal body temperature when you’re sick?
If you’ve been tracking your ovulation according to your basal body temperature, being sick definitely complicates that process a bit. “During ovulation, your temperature may slightly increase,” says Perkins. “If you are currently sick with a cold, flu, or another type of illness, your body temperature may also rise. This may make it more difficult for you to track your ovulation, as you will not be able to distinguish the cause of this rise in your temperature.” Just one more reason why being sick during ovulation can be a challenge.
If you are trying to conceive, talk to your doctor about way to protect your immune system, like getting a flu shot, which can give you some protection against flu viruses during conception and through your pregnancy. The best thing you can do if you find yourself sick during your ovulation days is to keep yourself healthy and hydrated with a nutritious immune-boosting diet while keeping your doctor or fertility specialist in the loop. With a little patience and persistence, hopefully you’ll start feeling better soon.
Dr. Barry Witt, M.D., a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and medical director of WINFertility and Greenwich Fertility
Dr. Kerry-Anne Perkins, M.D., board-certified OB/GYN
This article was originally published on