COVID mRNA Vaccines Do Not Harm Fertility – But The Virus Does
The mRNA vaccines (administered above) don’t affect fertility treatment for women or men.

The mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines do not harm in vitro fertilization (IVF) success rates, according to a recent study, countering disinformation that vaccines could negatively affect fertility.

In contrast, the SARS-CoV2 virus has been found to negatively affect the quality of embryos for couples who are undergoing IVF treatments and sperm.

The peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, involved 428 women aged up to 38 years of age – some vaccinated and some not – between January and August 2021. In total, the women went through 672 embryo transfers and around a quarter (23% to 26%) of the transfers led to pregnancies in all cases, regardless of whether the women were vaccinated or had been infected with COVID-19.

The study group was composed of 141 women either vaccinated with two mRNA coronavirus vaccines or recovered from the virus, and therefore all with COVID antibodies.

“One of the concerns raised by women of childbearing age around the world since the introduction of the coronavirus vaccine was that it could negatively impact IVF treatments,” said Prof Raoul Orvieto, director of Sheba Medical Center’s Infertility and IVF Institute in Israel.

“Many concerned women and mothers have approached us on this issue. This groundbreaking study shows that the vaccine does not affect a woman’s chance of getting pregnant using the frozen embryo transfer method.”

Early on in the pandemic, studies showed that pregnant women were at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19. As such, it was recommended by the World Health Organization that pregnant women get the jab. However, many women have hesitated, likely due to lack of information or misinformation about the safety of vaccines on fertility and foetuses.

“Unfounded claims in popular media linked a possible correlation between the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and potential infertility,” the authors wrote in the study. “Such false claims by anti-vaccine activists aim to incite fear and deter public opinion from vaccination, so jeopardizing the vaccination plan and the end of the pandemic.

“Our results refute such claims and strengthen the notion that the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is safe and should be recommended to fertility-seeking couples,” the authors continued.

Multiple studies, one result

There has been a range of recent studies examining the impact of COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines on fertility in both men and women.

A study published in the medical journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology in May 2021 proved that there was no difference in ovarian stimulation and embryological variables during IVF cycles conducted before and after receiving the Pfizer vaccine.

A separate study of 129 women published in the medical journal Human Reproduction suggested that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has no negative effect on a woman’s ovarian reserve. Women’s Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) levels were tested before they received their first shot of the vaccines. They received the second dose three weeks later and then were tested again three months after that. AMH levels were unchanged while COVID-19 antibody levels climbed.

Finally, two separate studies examining the impact of the Pfizer vaccine on male sperm showed that it does not have an impact. In a study of 43 male patients undergoing in vitro fertilization between February and March 2021, the sperm of each subject was examined against itself before and after vaccination, and researchers saw no difference in the sperm parameters.

A team of researchers from the University of Miami also studied semen volume, sperm concentration and total amount of moving sperm. In their study, published in the JAMA journal in June, they found no declines in any of the parameters after vaccination.

“In this study of sperm parameters before and after two doses of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, there were no significant decreases in any sperm parameter among this small cohort of healthy men,” the study’s authors wrote. “Because the vaccines contain mRNA and not the live virus, it is unlikely that the vaccine would affect sperm parameters.”

“There is nothing we have seen to suggest any negative impact on fertility at all,” Orvieto told Health Policy Watch.

But COVID-19 can harm fertility

Orvieto said that in his first study, he looked at IVF before and after infection. While there was no direct effect on the IVF outcome, the virus did affect the ratio of top-quality embryos for up to three months after disease. In the first three months, only around 30% of embryos were top quality compared to 60% before or after that period.

“The production of eggs and sperm lasts for around three months and can be hampered by inflammatory responses, like the ones that occur as a result of a viral infection, which is the case with COVID-19,” Orvieto said. “Our study indicated that the quality of embryos producers during an IVF procedure for a couple in which one of the partners had previously contracted COVID-19 was significantly lower, and lead to a lower chance of successful implantation.”

He told Health Policy Watch that he would recommend couples wait three months after one of the partners’ had contracted COVID-10 before IVF treatments.

Other studies found up to a 50% decrease in sperm volume, concentration and motility in patients with moderate disease even 30 days post diagnosis. And there have been reports of up to 25% of men who have had COVID-19 having a sperm impairment from the disease.

“If couples are choosing not to vaccinate it is because they are reading fake news,” Orvieto said.

He added that his team has gathered what is believes to be all the information needed now to justify vaccination for fertile men and women now. The next thing would be to wait three or four years and see if there are any long-term effects of vaccination or infection on fertility.

Image Credits: Wish FM Radio.

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