Does the COVID-19 Vaccine Impact Fertility?

Obstetrician and Gynecologist Dr. Marcy C. Mulconry weighs in on recent social media claims about the vaccines’ impact on women.

Mar. 5, 2021 1   min read

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The approval of COVID-19 vaccines for the mass population unleashed plenty of myths and conspiracy theories on social media about negative side effects. Among the most concerning was a claim that the COVID-19 vaccine could impact fertility in females by causing their bodies to attack the placenta. Some people believe this is part of a larger mission to “depopulate” the world.

Marcy C. Mulconry, MD, is an Obstetrician & Gynecology Specialist with Rochester Regional Health, says this claim isn’t based on anything concrete.

“There’s no research or data to show that the vaccine would attack the placenta,” says Mulconry. “While we know that vaccines have side effects, the COVID-19 vaccine is a safe option for both current and future childbearing women.”

How the COVID-19 vaccines work

The COVID-19 vaccines trigger the body’s immune system to produce antibodies and white blood cells which fight (and recognize) the virus, but the vaccine itself does not “give you the virus.” This means it can’t alter a recipient’s genetic blueprint, and therefore cannot attack the placenta.

There are proteins in the virus similar to placenta, but the COVID-19 vaccine does not remain in the body - it is eventually destroyed by the immune system (which is why the vaccines must be stored so carefully prior to administration). The proteins that are similar to placenta are destroyed as well.

Advice for pregnant and breastfeeding women

“If you are a female in her childbearing years who is at-risk or able to be vaccinated for any reason, my advice is to move forward,” says Mulconry. “It’s more dangerous to avoid vaccination because of internet claims about infertility.”

A recent study from the United Kingdom points to no known infertility in animal test subjects. As more people receive COVID-19 vaccinations in the next few months, the data will continue to grow. But really, vaccinations have been around for decades, and infertility is not a widespread side effect. 

For mothers who are pregnant or breastfeeding, Mulconry advises caution as with any other vaccine or drug. The COVID-19 vaccine trials did not include pregnant women, but the vaccine itself has been administered to pregnant women, especially those who are in high-risk careers or immunocompromised. Due to the lack of data from vaccine trials, the United Kingdom is not currently offering the vaccine to pregnant or lactating women, while the United States leaves the choice to be vaccinated up to the women.

“I’m in favor of my patients doing research to stay informed about their health,” says Mulconry, “but there are no known impacts on fertility from the COVID-19 vaccinations.”

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