Can the vaccine impact fertility?
A doctor shares what you need to know.
This blog was updated on August 6, 2021 to reflect new guidance from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.
In the last several months, we’ve seen how quickly misinformation about vaccines can spread online. Among the most common vaccine myths are those related to fertility. It can be tough for people who are already pregnant — or are planning to become pregnant — to know what to believe. And, we know that people from many historically marginalized communities may have higher levels of mistrust as a result of reproductive injustices they have experienced.
Dr. Gretchen LaSalle, American Academy of Family Physicians Vaccine Science Fellow, helps clear up some of the misconceptions in this video. The short of it? There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine will affect your fertility.
Dr. LaSalle explains that the antibodies your body creates to fight the spike protein in the COVID-19 vaccine will not fight proteins in the placenta. A perceived similarity between the two proteins is the result of a myth that started online.
Her guidance is consistent with new recommendations from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). The organization states that “claims linking COVID-19 vaccines to infertility are unfounded and have no scientific evidence supporting them.”
Getting the vaccine during pregnancy
You may also be wondering if it’s safe to get the vaccine if you’re already pregnant.
ACOG and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (another leading obstetricians group) strongly urge pregnant and lactating individuals to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The organizations based their recommendations on findings from the last several months, which have shown the vaccines to be safe and effective during pregnancy among tens of thousands of women.
Like Dr. LaSalle, the organizations remind people that the risks of getting COVID-19 during pregnancy far outweigh the risks associated with vaccination. That’s because pregnant people are at a higher risk of needing hospitalization or intensive care if they get sick with COVID-19.
Beyond protection against severe infection, there are other reasons to get vaccinated. In fact, studies are showing that pregnant people who have been vaccinated may pass the COVID-19 antibodies on to their babies. There’s also research that shows pregnant people pass antibodies to their babies while nursing six weeks post-vaccination.
As of July 26, more than 139,000 pregnant people nationwide have indicated (through the CDC v-safe registry) that they received the vaccine. For more information and early statistics on pregnant people who’ve received the vaccine, visit the CDC website.
What about infertility?
In addition to what we know about vaccines and pregnancy, there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility or impotence in people of any gender, including through in vitro fertilization methods.
ACOG strongly recommends vaccination for all eligible people who may consider future pregnancy. In fact, during the Pfizer vaccine trials, 23 women volunteers involved in the study became pregnant. The only person who experienced a pregnancy loss had gotten the placebo, not the actual vaccine.
While Dr. LaSalle’s response focused on the vaccine and pregnancy, research from the University of Miami finds that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not affect male fertility either. We can expect more reporting on this topic in the months to come.
If you have additional questions or concerns about the vaccine and fertility, we highly recommend speaking with your health care provider. You can also contact MotherToBaby to speak with someone about getting the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy. MotherToBaby experts are available to answer questions in English or Spanish by phone or chat. The free and confidential service is available Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (local time). To reach MotherToBaby call 1–866–626–6847, Chat live, or send an email to MotherToBaby.
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