COVID-19 vaccine and fertility

The COVID-19 vaccine does not affect fertility.
The COVID-19 vaccine does not affect fertility.

Since the COVID-19 vaccine was released last year, many people have questioned its effectiveness and its long-term consequences. One concern for prospective mothers is the safety of the vaccine and how the vaccine affects fertility. If you’re planning on becoming pregnant, here’s everything that you need to know about the vaccine and your fertility.

Getting pregnant after the COVID vaccine

Shortly after the COVID-19 vaccine was introduced, rumors circulated on social media that it could cause infertility in women. This rumor has been proven false. Numerous studies and research groups have concluded that the vaccine doesn‘t cause infertility in women or affect your chances of becoming pregnant.

The idea that the vaccine affects fertility is based on the false assumption that it can cause your body to attack syncytin-1. This protein is found in the placenta and includes a small piece of genetic code that’s also found in the spike protein of the coronavirus. However, doctors and scientists alike agree that such an attack isn’t possible. The vaccine can’t affect or interact with your reproductive organs in any way.

Studies reported to the FDA checked the effects of the vaccine on getting pregnant after being vaccinated. One group was made up of people given the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. The other was a control group given a placebo instead of vaccine. In both groups, the same percentage of women got pregnant, showing no effect of the vaccine on fertility. In fact, the few women with complications in their pregnancies were all in the control group that did not receive the actual vaccine.

Should I get vaccinated if I’m pregnant?

All of the current and available data says that it is safe for women to get vaccinated against COVID-19. In fact, in September 2021, the CDC issued an urgent health warning recommending that women who are looking to get pregnant get vaccinated either before or during pregnancy. This is because pregnant women actually have a higher risk of COVID-19 complications than women who aren’t pregnant.

Studies both within the U.S. and around the world have determined that the Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna vaccines are safe for women who are pregnant and looking to become pregnant. The CDC currently recommends that women who are pregnant, lactating, or wanting to become pregnant get vaccinated, as COVID-19 can cause serious symptoms or complications during pregnancy. The same studies have also monitored pregnant women who are vaccinated and concluded that there were no safety concerns arising from being pregnant and vaccinated.

In fact, getting vaccinated not only protects you and the ones around you, but it also protects your baby. Research from the CDC shows that taking two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines during pregnancy can help to prevent complications related to COVID-19 for infants under six months. Most infants whose mothers were fully vaccinated during pregnancy won’t need to be hospitalized should they contract the virus.

Another common myth is that you can get COVID-19 from the vaccine, so women who are pregnant or breastfeeding worry about passing it along to their baby. You can’t get COVID-19 from the vaccine and the vaccine doesn’t give your baby the virus through breastmilk.

Effects on male fertility

Testing and trials have also looked at whether or not the COVID-19 vaccine affects male fertility. One study, conducted by the National Institutes of Health, included more than 2,000 couples. In this study, researchers found that there were no differences in the chances of becoming pregnant if either the male or female partner had been vaccinated when compared to couples where both partners were unvaccinated. So, it can safely be assumed that the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t lower male fertility in the same way that it doesn’t lower female fertility.

What does have an effect on male fertility is the COVID-19 virus itself. The same study by the National Institutes of Health showed that couples had a lower chance of getting pregnant if the male partner had been infected with the COVID-19 virus within 60 days of trying to conceive. This suggests that the virus can temporarily affect the male partner’s fertility.

Fever is a common symptom of the COVID-19 virus and is known to reduce sperm count and motility. Another factor is that men who recently tested positive for the virus could have inflammation in their testes and the surrounding tissues, along with erectile dysfunction. For these reasons, men who are worried about their fertility should consider getting vaccinated to prevent contracting the virus or to help avoid serious symptoms.

The vaccine and menstruation

While research so far has proven vaccination to have no effect on either male or female fertility, some women have reported that they did note changes in their menstrual cycles after receiving a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Studies are ongoing, but it’s believed that these changes are short-term and temporary.

One study, performed by the Oregon Health and Science University and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, looked into claims that women noticed changes in their periods after getting vaccinated. Most notably, women who received both doses of the vaccine within the same menstrual cycle noticed that their period started a few days late.

Researchers looked at data from three cycles before women were vaccinated and compared it to three cycles after vaccination. They also looked at data for six straight cycles from women who were unvaccinated to make a comparison. The data found that women who received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during their menstrual cycle had a small increase in the length of their cycle. This was noted as about a half day longer between cycles, or bleeding.

Women who received two doses in the same menstrual cycle experienced getting their periods a little late, by an average of about two days. 10% of these women experienced getting their period eight days late or longer. However, these women reported that things went back to normal in their following cycles, suggesting that these changes are only temporary.

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Medically Reviewed on 3/24/2022
References
SOURCES:

Boston University: "COVID-19 Vaccines Don't Cause Infertility or Harm Pregnancy Chances, BU Research Shows."

Gavi: "How COVID-19 vaccines affect the menstrual cycle."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "The COVID-19 Vaccine and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know."

National Institutes of Health: "COVID-19 Vaccination does not reduce chances of conception, study suggests."

NHS: "Pregnancy, breastfeeding, fertility and coronavirus (COVID-19 vaccination."

UChicagoMedicine: "COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy: What you need to know if you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding."

University of Missouri: "Does the COVID-19 Vaccine Affect Fertility? Here’s What the Experts Say."

YaleNewHavenHealth: "Pregnant of Planning to Become Pregnant? Here’s What You Need to Know about the COVID-19 Vaccine."