Alabama Ready: COVID
There is a common misperception that the COVID-19 vaccines may affect male and female fertility in future. Currently, there is no evidence to support this.
A false social media post led to this misperception. The post falsely claimed that the COVID-19 spike protein, which is targeted by the vaccines, is very similar to another protein called synctin-1 that is involved in the growth and attachment of the placenta during pregnancy. It further claimed that COVID-19 vaccines might therefore “attack” this protein and cause infertility. In reality, the COVID-19 spike protein is extremely different from synctin-1.
In the clinical trials that brought the COVID-19 vaccines to the market in the United States, there has been no loss of fertility in women who participated. In fact, a number of women who received the COVID-19 vaccine became pregnant afterwards.
Additionally, animal studies with the vaccine do not indicate fertility issues. Also, another recent, small study of men who received both doses of the mRNA vaccine did not show any impact on semen.
The COVID-19 vaccines have not been trial tested in women who are pregnant, but trials are planned. Based on how the vaccines work, there is no scientific reason to suspect that pregnant women should not receive the vaccine.
A recent study evaluated approximately 35,000 pregnant women who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. The findings did not suggest any adverse effects related to the vaccines. This was a preliminary study, and more follow-up is needed. People can read the full preliminary findings of this study in The New England Journal of Medicine.
While much larger studies are needed before any final conclusions are known, there are some early studies that suggest catching the COVID-19-causing virus may negatively impact male fertility. These studies imply that it would be better for a man’s fertility health to receive the vaccine than it would be to contract the virus.
Recommendations for Pregnant Women
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine recommend that women who are pregnant should have access to the COVID-19 vaccines and should not be denied vaccination because they are pregnant.
Pregnant women who contract COVID-19 have an increased risk of severe disease compared to women who are not pregnant. Pregnant women should discuss the benefits and risks of receiving the vaccine with their healthcare provider.
Spencer H. Durham, Associate Clinical Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy; Marilyn Bulloch, Associate Clinical Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy
New July 2021, COVID-19 and Fertility Issues