Covid-19 vaccinations won’t affect a couple’s chances of conceiving a child, but an infection of SARS-Cov-2 can temporarily diminish male fertility, an NIH-funded study found.
The study, published Wednesday in the American Journal of Epidemiology, marks the latest effort to show that the vaccines can help avert the risks Covid-19 poses on pregnancy or the baby.
People hoping to become pregnant in the next six months were less likely to get vaccinated out of fears of birth defects and unknown long-term impacts of the vaccines, although these concerns aren’t backed by data, according to a survey published in January 2021. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in October found two-thirds of parents say they are concerned the vaccine may negatively impact their child’s fertility in the future.
The latest findings “provide reassurance that vaccination for couples seeking pregnancy does not appear to impair fertility” Diana Bianchi, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the National Institutes of Health, said in a statement. “They also provide information for physicians who counsel patients hoping to conceive.”
Data from tens of thousands of individuals indicate the vaccines are safe for pregnancy and can even build and pass antibodies along to the baby, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,
Developing Covid-19 during pregnancy has been linked to severe disease, along with an increased risk of preterm birth and stillbirth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the ACOG have both recommended Covid-19 shots for anyone who’s pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
In the latest research, Amelia K. Wesselink, an epidemiologist at Boston University, and her colleagues studied more than 2,000 couples and found vaccinations made no difference in the odds of conceiving. However, a couple had an 18% lower chance of conception if the male partner had been infected with the virus that causes Covid-19 within 60 days before a menstrual cycle.
The researchers found no major differences in conception rates per menstrual cycle between unvaccinated and vaccinated couples in which at least one partner had received at least one dose of the vaccine.
They said the temporary reduction in male fertility could be due to fevers, which is a common symptom of an infection that’s also been linked to a reduction in sperm count.