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

By: Swati Kumar, MD, Research Coordinator, Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research

In a study funded by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, involving more than 2,000 American and Canadian couples, it was found that COVID-19 vaccination does not affect the chances of conceiving a child. The study found that even though there was no overall difference in conception, couples in which the male partner had tested positive within 60 days of a given cycle were 18% less likely to conceive in that cycle, suggesting that COVID-19 could temporarily reduce male fertility. The study data was gathered from an internet based prospective cohort study, Pregnancy Study Online (PRESTO) and was conducted by National Institute for Health.

Both female and male participants were 21 years or older and were asked to complete a questionnaire. Questions included topics such as income, education levels, lifestyle, reproductive and medical histories, vaccination status and if either one had ever been tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Female partners also completed follow-up questionnaires every eight weeks until pregnancy or up to 12 months.

Investigators found similar results when they looked at factors such as whether study participants or their partners received one or two doses of vaccine, the type of vaccine, how recently they were vaccinated, if they were health care workers or if they were couples without a history of infertility.

Fever is a common factor that contributes to low sperm count after SARS-CoV-2 infection and could explain the temporary decline. Other possible reasons for a decline in fertility among male partners who recently tested positive could be inflammation in the testes and nearby tissues and erectile dysfunction, all common after SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The researchers concluded that their results suggest that vaccination against COVID-19 had no harmful association with fertility and that vaccination against COVID-19 could help avert the risks that SARS-CoV-2 infection poses for maternal and fetal health.