Open Accessibility Menu

The COVID-19 vaccine does not affect fertility—but infection might

The COVID-19 vaccine does not affect fertility—but infection might

It's been about a year since the COVID-19 vaccine became available for all Americans. Reflecting back to last spring, you might remember a circulating rumor that vaccination would impact fertility and/or fetal development. We have over a year of data tracking if this rumor holds any weight. Here’s what we know.

Where did the infertility theory come from?

“I wouldn’t even call this a theory, it’s a baseless and anecdotal myth,” says Ogden Clinic Physician David Cope. “Data has consistently shown there is no affect from the vaccines on either the pregnancy, the ability to conceive, or the fetus.”

Myths such as vaccine “spike protein shedding” started promulgating as quickly as the vaccine became available. The myth was widely spread through under-moderated social media features like Instagram stores and Facebook comments, where personal narratives have fueled anti-vaccination movement. Social media companies still struggle to curtail vaccine misinformation coming from these sources.

A recent study suggests that COVID-19 infection may affect male fertility

A new study suggests that COVID-19 infection could potentially affect a man’s fertility for up to 60 days. Research published in January 2022 and funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) tracked data from more than 2,100 women and some of their partners in the U.S. and Canada for roughly a year, ending in November 2021.

The study was conducted by Amelia K. Wesselink, Ph.D., of Boston University, and colleagues. It appears in the American Journal of Epidemiology. It found that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 had no discernable effects on fertility in either men or women, adding to a growing body of evidence.

This study also found that couples had a slightly lower chance of conception if the male partner had been infected with SARS-CoV-2 within 60 days before a menstrual cycle, suggesting that COVID-19 could temporarily reduce male fertility.

More research is needed to determine why male fertility drops after COVID-19 infection. We do know, however, that contracting a fever temporarily reduces sperm count and motility and fever is a common COVID-19 symptom.

Guidance for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying conceive

The CDC and Ogden Clinic doctors highly encourage COVID-19 vaccination for people who are trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future, as well as their partners. In addition, everyone who is pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future, should get a booster shot. CDC recommends that people who are starting their vaccine series or getting a booster dose get either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (mRNA COVID-19 vaccines), but the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine may be considered in some situations.

If you are trying to become pregnant or may want children in the future, there is no need to avoid receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. If you get pregnant after receiving your first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses (i.e., Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), you should get your second shot to receive as much protection as possible.

You can read scientific studies following over 200,000 pregnant people and their partners who have received COVID-19 mRNA vaccination here and here.