What’s Behind the “COVID-19 Vaccines Hurt Fertility” Myth

Sources: PBS Newshour; U. of Missouri Health Care

According to the U.S. Centers For Disease Control (CDC), vaccines for COVID-19 are both safe and effective for pregnant people and those who plan to become pregnant, according to all of the data gathered by researchers so far. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially recommended that pregnant people get vaccinated against COVID-19. Those who are attempting to conceive or are breastfeeding should also get their shots.

But these facts haven’t been enough to convince everyone — preying on concerns around reproductive health has long been an effective way to turn people against vaccination. Some holdouts might say they’re waiting for more information on the potential long-term side effects of these shots — so far, researchers haven’t found any — or for official approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), like Pfizer’s was given last month.

Fertility is a personal, often emotional topic, and having kids is integral to many people’s visions of their own futures. False anti-vaccination talking points often take advantage of that emotion, as well as the desire to ensure you’re not doing anything that could jeopardize chances of having a family.

University of Missouri (MU) Health Care family medicine doctor Laura Morris has heard it so many times, she doesn’t even wait for her patients to bring it up. “I proactively address this rumor with my patients of reproductive age who have not been vaccinated,” said Morris, who treats pregnant women and delivers babies as part of her practice.

“There is no plausible reason — no medical or scientific mechanism — for this vaccine to interact with a woman’s reproductive organs or have any interaction with an egg that’s been released or fertilized.”

In addition, there is some evidence that the virus — not the vaccine — could potentially negatively impact sperm production and testicular function. MU physician and reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Albert Hsu has published journal article that discussed the potential negative impact of the COVID-19 disease on male fertility.

Some studies have shown that:
– The SARS-COV-2 virus has been found in the sperm of men with COVID-19 infection
– The SARS-CoV-2 virus may impact male hormones necessary for normal sperm production
There are numerous reports of men with testicular or scrotal pain after getting the COVID-19 disease.

“Men who are worried about their fertility should probably get the COVID-19 vaccine,” Hsu said, “as there are some concerns about the potential effect of COVID-19 disease on male fertility.”

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