What should I know about COVID?
Experts are learning more every day about the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is following the situation closely. This page will be updated as ACOG learns more about how the spread of COVID-19 affects health care for women. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you can find more information at Coronavirus (COVID-19), Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding: A Message for Patients.
Please note that while this is a page for patients, this page is not meant to give specific medical advice and is for informational reference only. Medical advice should be provided by your doctor or other health care professional.
Ob-gyns: Please refer to acog.org/covid19 for ACOG’s latest updates on COVID-19.
COVID-19 and Gynecologist Visits
What is COVID-19?COVID-19 is a new illness that affects the lungs and breathing. It is caused by a new coronavirus. Symptoms include fever, cough, and trouble breathing. It also may cause stomach problems, such as nausea and diarrhea, and a loss of your sense of smell or taste. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after you are exposed to the virus. Some people with COVID-19 may have no symptoms or only mild symptoms.
What does COVID-19 mean for routine health care visits to my gynecologist?It is important to still get the care you need to stay healthy. You can go ahead with your health care visits. Your gynecologist or other health care professional may make changes to keep you safe. They may ask you to wear a mask and to follow other safety policies at your visit. Or you may be able to talk with your gynecologist over the phone or on a video call. This is called telemedicine or telehealth. Any health care visit changes will depend on many factors, including
your health (are you having urgent symptoms? )
how much the virus is spreading in your community
your access to the internet and a computer or a phone
your health care team’s resources
When should I still see my gynecologist in person?You may need to be seen in person if you have an urgent concern about your health or safety. Here are a few examples of urgent issues that may need in-person care right away:
A fever or vaginal infection that is unrelated to COVID-19
Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, including pain in the pelvis, abdomen, or lower back
Problems with recovery after a recent surgery or other procedure
Severe vaginal bleeding
This is not a complete list. Call your gynecologist or other health care professional if you have any symptoms that bother you. Call 911 or go to the hospital if you are having an emergency.
Do I need an in-person visit to get birth control? You may be able to get birth control without having an office visit. You do not need a physical exam or testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to get a birth control prescription. But if you want an intrauterine device (IUD), a birth control implant, or sterilization, you will need an office visit. Your gynecologist may suggest birth control pills, a vaginal ring, or another user-controlled method until an office visit can be scheduled. Talk with your gynecologist or other health care professional about these options.
What health care services may need to be postponed?If COVID-19 is spreading quickly in your area, some health care appointments may be postponed to free up health care resources and reduce your exposure to people who may have COVID-19. Appointment delays may happen if you live in an area where many people have COVID-19, and if you would not be harmed by the delay. Talk with your gynecologist or other health care professional if you have a health care visit or surgery scheduled.
What should I expect if I have an office visit scheduled?If you have a visit scheduled, your gynecologist’s office may call you ahead of time. They may tell you about telemedicine. If you are going to the office, they will ask if you have symptoms of COVID-19. It is still important to wear a mask or cloth face covering at health care offices. You also can call them before your visits if you do not hear from them.
Can I bring my partner or children with me to an office visit?Call ahead before bringing anyone with you, including your children. Your health care team may have changed their policies to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
What if I have COVID-19 and need to see my gynecologist? If you have COVID-19 or think you may have it, you should call your gynecologist or other health care professional before your visit. You may be able to have a virtual visit with telemedicine. Or you may need to reschedule your visit to avoid spreading the virus. If you have an urgent issue for your gynecologist (see above), they may be able to schedule you for the last appointment of the day or see you in an area that is separated from other patients. They also should tell you about any policies that may have changed, such as whether you can bring your children with you. When you go to your appointment, wear a mask if possible.
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe and effective?
Yes, studies have shown that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective. The COVID-19 vaccines can prevent infection and death from the coronavirus. Before vaccines are given to the public, vaccines go through many layers of testing and reviews. The COVID-19 vaccines meet strict safety standards required for emergency approval.
Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, you are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated. Vaccines are recommended for people age 5 and older. ACOG recommends vaccination if you are pregnant, postpartum, breastfeeding, or planning a pregnancy (visit Coronavirus (COVID-19), Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding). For information about vaccines for children 11 and under, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website healthychildren.org.
Find out how to get a COVID-19 vaccine near you through the CDC website.
Do I need to wear a mask if I am fully vaccinated? The CDC has released guidelines for what you can do after you are fully vaccinated. You are fully vaccinated 2 weeks after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine, or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine. The CDC says that fully vaccinated people should still wear masks in some cases, including
in certain places like health care settings, schools, airports, and public transit
when required by law or by guidelines from businesses or workplaces
Mask recommendations may change in your area as rates of COVID-19 infection change. Masks may be required in public places if the virus is spreading quickly. Follow current recommendations from the CDC and your state or local government. If you are fully vaccinated and want to keep wearing a mask for any reason, you can still do so. Mask wearing is most important if you or someone in your household is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 because of age or a health condition.
What are the differences between the vaccines?
Two vaccines require two shots (Pfizer and Moderna), and one vaccine requires only one shot (Johnson & Johnson). All COVID-19 vaccines are proven to be safe and highly effective. People who are 18 and older can choose to get any of the vaccines. Children and teens age 5 to 17 can get the Pfizer vaccine. If you are pregnant, you can choose any vaccine that is available to you. Learn more from the CDC about the different vaccines.
Do I need a booster shot?
Over time, protection from a vaccine can decline. A booster dose improves (boosts) your body’s ability to protect you from illness. All adults 18 and older should get a booster. This includes pregnant and recently pregnant women.
You can choose any COVID-19 vaccine for your booster. You do not need to choose the same vaccine that you originally received.
The timing of the booster depends on which vaccine you originally received:
Johnson & Johnson—Get a booster at least 2 months after your first dose.
Pfizer and Moderna—Get a booster at least 6 months after your second dose.
You can get a booster at any time during pregnancy. If you were originally vaccinated before pregnancy and you are now pregnant, you should still get a booster.
Do COVID-19 vaccines have side effects? It is common to feel side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. There are different types of COVID-19 vaccines that have varying side effects. Side effects also vary from person to person. Some vaccines may make you may feel like you have the flu for a few days. This is normal. If you are worried about your side effects or they last more than a few days, talk with your ob-gyn or other health care professional.
What should I know about the safety of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine? The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. All vaccines have gone through intense safety studies and health officials continue to track their safety. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does have potential risks, but they are very rare. The vaccine has been linked to two rare health conditions:
A condition involving blood clots and other symptoms. Most cases of these blood clots have been reported in women under age 50. Learn more from the CDC.
Guillain-Barré syndrome, an immune system disorder that affects the nervous system.
These conditions have only been reported in a few people out of every million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that have been given. Scientists reviewed these reports and decided that the benefits of the vaccine are greater than these risks. If you are offered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you should be aware of the potential risks of these rare health conditions. If you choose not to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you can receive another available vaccine.
What should I know about the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine and birth control? Some hormonal birth control methods are linked to a small increased risk of blood clots. The type of blood clot related to birth control is different than the type of blood clot syndrome related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. There is no need to change birth control methods if you get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Hormonal birth control should not affect your risk of blood clots after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
What should I know about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and myocarditis? There have been rare reports of temporary inflammation in or around the heart muscle after vaccination with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. These conditions are called myocarditis and pericarditis. These cases have been seen mostly in male teens and young adults. Most patients do well with treatment and quickly feel better. The risk of illness and death from COVID-19 is far greater than the rare risks of myocarditis and pericarditis. The CDC continues to recommend everyone age 5 and older get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Can COVID-19 vaccines affect menstrual periods?
There have been stories of COVID-19 vaccines causing temporary changes in menstrual periods. These changes have included heavier periods, early or late periods, and missed periods. Many factors can cause period changes, but vaccines have not previously been linked with period problems. More research is needed on this topic. You can get a COVID-19 vaccine while you have your period. There is no need to reschedule.
Can COVID-19 vaccines affect breast cancer screening (mammography)?
There have been reports of COVID-19 vaccines causing swollen lymph nodes in underarms. This is a temporary side effect, but the swelling can make mammograms hard to read correctly. Because of this side effect, routine mammograms may be postponed for 4 to 6 weeks after you get a COVID-19 vaccine. But if you have any problems with your breasts or if you are at high risk for breast cancer, you should not delay your mammogram. If you do have a mammogram fewer than 4 to 6 weeks after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, tell the health care staff when you got your vaccine, which type of vaccine you had, and which arm the shot went in.
I have heard rumors about how the vaccines can affect my body. What is the truth?
COVID-19 vaccines work in different ways, and all of them are proven to be safe. It is important to know that:
The vaccines cannot give you COVID-19. None of the vaccines use the live virus that causes COVID-19.
The vaccines do not affect your genes or DNA.
There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility. ACOG recommends vaccination for anyone who may consider getting pregnant in the future.
Visit the CDC’s website for the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines.