COVID-19 vaccination does not reduce the chances of conception, study suggests
COVID-19 vaccination does not reduce the chances of conception, study suggests

COVID-19 vaccination does not reduce the chances of conception, study suggests

News release

Thursday, January 20, 2022

NIH-funded research shows that infection can affect male fertility.

COVID-19 vaccination does not affect the chances of getting pregnant, according to a study of more than 2,000 couples funded by the National Institutes of Health. Researchers found no differences in the chances of conception if either male or female partner had been vaccinated, compared with unvaccinated couples. However, couples had a slightly lower chance of conception if the male partner had been infected with SARS-CoV-2 within 60 days before a menstrual cycle, suggesting that COVID-19 could temporarily reduce male fertility. The study was conducted by Amelia K. Wesselink, Ph.D., of Boston University, and colleagues. It appears from American Journal of Epidemiology.

“The results provide assurance that vaccination for couples seeking pregnancy does not appear to impair fertility,” said Diana Bianchi, MD, director of the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which funded the study. “They also provide information to physicians who advise patients hoping to become pregnant.”

Researchers analyzed data from Pregnancy test online (PRESTO), an Internet-based prospective cohort study of American and Canadian couples attempting to conceive without fertility treatment. PRESTO is led by Lauren A. Wise, Sc.D., of Boston University.

The participants in the study were identified as women and were 21 to 45 years old. They completed a questionnaire about their income and level of education, lifestyle, and reproductive and medical history, including whether they had been vaccinated against COVID-19 and whether they or their partners had ever tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. They also invited their male partners aged 21 or older to complete a similar questionnaire. Female partners completed follow-up questionnaires every eight weeks until they became pregnant, or up to 12 months if they did not.

The researchers found no major differences in conception rates per menstrual cycle between unvaccinated and vaccinated couples where at least one partner had received at least one dose of the vaccine.

The results were similar when investigators looked at factors that could potentially influence the results, such as whether study participants or their partners received one or two doses of a vaccine, what type of vaccine they received, how recently they were vaccinated, whether they were American. or Canadian, whether they were health professionals or they were couples without a history of infertility.

Overall, testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection was not associated with a difference in conception. However, couples where the male partner was tested positive within 60 days after a given cycle were 18% less likely to become pregnant during that cycle. There was no difference in conception rates for couples where the male partner was tested positive more than 60 days before a cycle, compared to couples where the male partner was not tested positive.

Fever, which is known to reduce sperm count and motility, is common during SARS-CoV-2 infection and may therefore explain the temporary decrease in fertility that the researchers observed in couples where the male partner had a recent infection. Other possible causes of a decrease in fertility among male partners who were recently tested positive could be inflammation of the testicles and nearby tissues and erectile dysfunction, all common after SARS-CoV-2 infection. The researchers noted that this short-term decline in male fertility could potentially be avoided by vaccination.

The researchers concluded that their results suggest that vaccination against COVID-19 had no detrimental link with fertility. Vaccination against COVID-19 can also help ward off the risks that SARS-CoV-2 infection poses to maternal and fetal health.

Around Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): NICHD leads research and training to understand human development, improve reproductive health, improve the lives of children and adolescents, and optimize abilities for all. For more information, visit https://www.nichd.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH):The NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 institutes and centers and is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NIH is the primary federal agency that conducts and supports basic, clinical, and translational medical research and investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information on the NIH and its programs, visit www.rul.gov.

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References

Wesselink AK, et al. A prospective cohort study of COVID-19 vaccination, SARS-CoV-2 infection, and fertility. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2022 http://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwac011

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