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COVID-19: Fertility, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

There has been a lot of confusion and misinformation regarding the COVID-19 vaccine’s impact on fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding. Here are the facts supported by the latest scientific evidence-based information.

Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I’m pregnant?

First, it is important to remember that pregnant people are at increased risk for severe illness if they get COVID-19.

According to the CDC as of May 14, 2021, “If you are pregnant or were recently pregnant you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. If you have questions about getting vaccinated, talking with your healthcare provider might help, but is not required.”

While pregnant women were excluded from initial COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, there is mounting scientific evidence that COVID-19 vaccines not only protect pregnant women and appear not to damage the placenta, they may also transfer benefits to infants. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on May 13, 2021 reported that both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines produce robust immune responses in pregnant and lactating women and are likely to provide at least some protection against two dangerous coronavirus variants. Pregnant women who received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine (mostly those in their third trimester) may also pass along protective antibodies to their fetuses through their bloodstream and infants through breast milk, according to the research. Separately, a study published May 11, 2021 in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found no evidence that either the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccines damaged the placenta during pregnancy.
You can find more vaccine guidance for pregnant women and those breastfeeding by visiting the CDC’s website.

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m breastfeeding?

Yes, by all means. Based on how these vaccines work in the body, COVID-19 vaccines are thought not to be a risk to lactating people or their breastfeeding babies. Therefore, lactating people can receive a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC. Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine affect women’s fertility?

Misinformation widely circulated on social media has implied that antibodies generated by COVID-19 vaccines could attack the placenta. This is false. The coronavirus spike protein that the COVID-19 vaccines target is completely different from the spike protein, syncytin-1 (a.k.a. enverin), associated with development of the placenta, despite what some social media posts suggest. The vaccines do not impede the protein syncytin-1and will not affect the fertility of women who are seeking to become pregnant, including through in vitro fertilization. During Pfizer vaccine tests, 23 women involved in the study became pregnant. The only one who suffered a pregnancy loss had received a placebo rather than the actual vaccine.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine effect male fertility?

According to the CDC, “There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause female or male fertility problems—problems getting pregnant.” One small study did find that severe cases of COVID-19 infections might impact the quality of a man’s sperm thus impacting his fertility. But that study focused on men diagnosed with COVID-19 and had nothing to do with vaccinations. Experts urged caution regarding that study’s results pointing out that any virus, such as flu, can temporarily lower sperm counts. Certain medications and fever associated with an illness also can cause temporary declines in sperm production. Both the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology and the Society for the Study of Male Reproduction have said it is ok for male patients desiring fertility to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
rev. 6.18.2021