Alongside common anti-vaccination myths, the COVID-19 vaccine has been met with skepticism. For some, this is due to the exceptional speed with which the vaccine was developed and made available, leading some to be wary of its effectiveness or safety. A common myth that has emerged is that the vaccine can cause infertility. Simply put, the idea that the COVID-19 vaccine is linked to infertility is not based in scientific evidence or observation.
The myth of the COVID-19 vaccine being linked to infertility began because there is a slight similarity between the amino acids that make up the protein targeted by the vaccine and the protein syncytin, which is key for the placenta. Due to this similarity, some worried that antibodies produced by the vaccine could attack the protein in the placenta in addition to the coronavirus, causing infertility or pregnancy loss.
There are two reasons why this is highly unlikely. First, the targeted COVID-19 protein and syncytin do not share multiple epitopes, or the parts of proteins that can activate an immune response. So, it is highly unlikely that the vaccine could impact syncytin at all. Secondly, the targeted COVID-19 protein has similarities in amino acid structure to many other types of cells, including collagen and hemoglobin. If these similarities affected the placenta, they would surely affect these other cells as well, meaning that this issue would be immediately noticeable in vaccine trials.
Finally, while the COVID-19 vaccine trials did not initially include pregnant women, at least 24 women participating in the trial became pregnant throughout the study with no adverse effects. Further evidence that the vaccine does not affect implantation or pregnancy loss rates for IVF patients has also been presented at the most recent American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference.
While the COVID-19 vaccine does not cause infertility, you may experience some mild side effects that are common with other vaccines, such as your yearly flu shot. These include fever or fatigue. In study trials, allergic reactions occurred in rare cases. These allergic reactions are one reason that some have theorized that the vaccine could lead to infertility, but this assumption is false.
Choosing whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccine is personal. However, rest assured that any serious risks like allergic reactions are very rare, and other side effects are minor. The vaccine has been recommended by leading womens’ health organizations including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding if they meet criteria, such as being at a higher risk for severe infection or being a healthcare or essential worker. Whether you are trying to get pregnant, currently pregnant, or breastfeeding, the COVID-19 vaccine is safe should you decide to get it.
If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine as it relates to your fertility or pregnancy, call or schedule an appointment at Maternal Fetal Medicine Associates. Our New York City office can be reached at (212) 235-1335, and you may also contact us online.
Source: Lucky Sekhon, MD “Myth Debunked: COVID-19 Vaccine and Infertility” https://theluckyegg.com/2020/12/22/myth-debunked-covid-19-vaccine-and-infertility/
Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!