Study looks at impact of COVID-19 vaccines on fertility
Thousands have already received the COVID-19 vaccine while others say not so fast.
Their big concern? Its impacts on possibly having children.
Fertility and pregnancy concerns are leading to vaccine hesitancy, and researchers are hoping to dispel the myths.
“What if there is something in there that wasn’t tested that will cause females to be sterile?” asked Stacey Clarke, who’s concerned about fertility issues with the vaccine.
“It just leaves me feeling uneasy,” said Nicole Linsley, a fertility patient.
It’s not just women who have vaccine anxiety. Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy with the University of Miami said his male patients ask questions, too.
“The concern with the potential of the vaccine, the COVID vaccine, causing male fertility issues arises from the fact that the actual COVID virus can bind to receptors inside the testes,” said Ramasamy, the director of reproductive urology at the Miller School of Medicine.
In a previous study, Ramasamy found the coronavirus in men’s testes, and for some men, it temporarily lowered their sperm counts. But Ramasamy says because both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines don’t use the actual virus, they likely won’t impact male fertility.
“People think that the vaccine actually has the virus in it. But the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines that have emergency use authorization from the FDA, are just the mRNA vaccines that make a protein that the COVID virus expresses. So it is not the full virus and it does not biologically appear to actually bind to the testes and affect testicular function,” he said.
The Johnson and Johnson vaccine could be a different story.
“The J&J vaccine is the actual virus. And so now all of the concerns about the potential virus binding to the testes and impacting sperm count remains, and probably remains more with the J&J vaccine compared to the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines,” Ramasamy said.
Still, Ramasamy recommends if you’re eligible to get the vaccine, you should get it.
National medical experts say the loss of fertility is scientifically unlikely. In a joint statement, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) said:
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, patients have had questions about the impact of the virus on their health. Now, as the rollout of the COVID vaccines progresses, patients similarly have questions about whether the vaccine is right for their individual health needs. As experts in reproductive health, we continue to recommend that the vaccine be available to pregnant individuals. We also assure patients that there is no evidence that the vaccine can lead to loss of fertility. While fertility was not specifically studied in the clinical trials of the vaccine, no loss of fertility has been reported among trial participants or among the millions who have received the vaccines since their authorization, and no signs of infertility appeared in animal studies. Loss of fertility is scientifically unlikely.”
“Out of abundance of caution and to provide reassurance to the public, we are actually doing a study at the University of Miami to evaluate the effect of the vaccine on male fertility and male testosterone production. We believe that it shouldn’t really affect male fertility or testosterone production,” said Ramasamy. “We see a lot of young men who are attempting conception right now or attempting fertility, who want to preserve their future fertility, and have actually told us that they’re willing to wait for the study results, to reassure them before they go ahead and get the vaccine.”
So far, there is no data to suggest the vaccines negatively impact women’s fertility. In fact, in studies done by Pfizer and Moderna, several women participating in clinical trials got pregnant.