July 01, 2022
Catching COVID-19 can cause male fertility problems. Getting vaccinated won’t impact your fertility, but getting the virus could.
You may have heard rumors that getting the COVID-19 vaccine can cause infertility. Let’s debunk that myth right up front: No credible scientific evidence shows the COVID-19 vaccine has a negative impact on fertility.
A January 2022 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology looked at 2,000 couples trying to conceive without fertility treatment. Data shows no differences in the likelihood of conception between vaccinated and unvaccinated couples.
“Researchers found no association between the COVID-19 vaccine and lower fertility rates,” says Oluwatosin Goje, MD, an Ob/Gyn and reproductive infectious disease specialist at Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.
However, the study found that in couples trying to get pregnant, conception was down 18%, months after the male partner was infected with COVID-19.
Dr. Goje says doctors aren’t yet sure why this is, but researchers continue to study COVID-19’s impact on the body, and studies have reported on a few possibilities as it relates to men:
- The effects of fever: “When people get an infection, whether it’s COVID-19 or any other viral infection, having a fever can impact sperm formation,” she says.
- Hormonal changes: Certain hormone levels are needed for sperm production, but disruption to the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and gonadal glands could alter those levels.
- Testicular troubles: “One of the hypotheses is that the virus is able to enter the testicles,” Dr. Goje says. That could cause a temporary disruption in the testicles’ ability to properly function.
- Inflammation issues: Infections can lead to what doctors call “inflammatory cascade,” a bodily response to fighting off severe illness. “Researchers think that inflammatory cascade can collapse or alter sperm production,” says Dr. Goje.
Fortunately, within a few months of having COVID-19, male fertility seems to go back to normal. But if you’re trying to get pregnant as a couple, it’s important to know how your male partner’s infection could temporarily impact your ability to conceive.