COVID-19 vaccines do not cause infertility, BU research finds | The edge
Having a COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t impact a couple’s chances of getting pregnant, but skipping shots and getting a coronavirus infection could reduce male fertility.
These are the findings in an article published in the American Journal of Epidemiology by researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health. In a study of couples trying to conceive, they found no association between COVID-19 vaccination and the likelihood of conception in female or male partners who received Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
“Many people of childbearing age cited concerns about fertility as a reason for not being vaccinated,” says Amelia Wesselink, research assistant professor of epidemiology and lead author of the study. the vaccination rates for pregnant women have remained stubbornly low in the United States, despite new data suggesting that being not vaccinated increases the risk of miscarriage or a baby dying in the first month of life.
“Our study shows, for the first time, that vaccination against COVID-19 in either partner is not related to fertility in couples trying to conceive sexually,” says Wesselink. “Time to pregnancy was very similar regardless of vaccination status.”
COVID reduces male fertility, vaccines don’t
Wesselink and her team analyzed survey data on vaccination, infection, and fecundability of COVID-19—the probability of conception per menstrual cycle—among female and male participants at the BU School of Public Health Online Pregnancy Study (PRESTO). An ongoing study funded by the National Institutes of Health that enrolls women trying to conceive, PRESTO follows subjects from preconception through six months postpartum. Participants included 2,126 women in the United States and Canada who provided information on sociodemographics, lifestyle, medical factors, and characteristics of their partners from December 2020 to September 2021. Participants were followed in the study until November 2021.
“Our study shows, for the first time, that vaccination against COVID-19 in either partner is not linked to fertility in couples trying to conceive sexually.
Fertility rates among participants who received at least one dose of a vaccine were almost identical to those of unvaccinated participants. They were also similar for male partners who had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine compared to unvaccinated male participants. Additional analyzes considering number of vaccine doses, brand of vaccine, history of infertility, occupation and geographic region also indicated no adverse effects of vaccination on fertility.
Although COVID-19 infection was not strongly associated with fertility, men who tested positive for COVID within 60 days of a given cycle had reduced fertility compared to men who did not. never tested positive or to men who tested positive at least 60 days previously. This confirms previous research that has linked COVID-19 infection in men with poor quality semen and other reproductive disorders.
“These results provide reassuring evidence that vaccination against COVID in either partner does not affect the fertility of couples trying to conceive,” says Lauren Wise, professor of epidemiology and lead author of the study. She says the study results are strong, because PRESTO is “recruiting participants before pregnancy, collects data on vaccination and other variables during the preconception period, and then collects data on later fertility after registration” – what scientists call a prospective study. The large study size and geographic diversity were also strengths, says Wise, “as was our control for many variables, such as age, socioeconomic status, pre-existing health conditions, occupation and stress levels”.
COVID vaccines and menstruation
Wise’s research team also uses PRESTO data to look for evidence that COVID vaccines impact menstruation — many women have anecdotally reported changes in their periods after receiving an injection. She says the latest fertility findings should help allay fears that any short-term change in the menstrual cycle will impact the ability to conceive; Wesselink and Wise hope to publish the results of the menstruation study this spring.
Given her research, as well as other studies that have found no link between vaccination and adverse pregnancy outcomes, Wise’s advice to anyone looking to start a family is to get vaccinated.
“There is a wealth of information that COVID infection…has a detrimental impact on pregnancy and childbirth outcomes,” Wise said recently. UB todayit is question of the week Podcast. “Given all the information available at the moment … I think the evidence weighs for vaccination.”
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