Does COVID Vaccine Affect Fertility, Pregnancy? Study Latest to Conclude No

A study has found no link between receiving a Pfizer or Moderna COVID vaccine and fertility in women, adding to growing scientific evidence that COVID vaccines do not affect fertility or pregnancy.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York, looked at patients who were undergoing fertility treatment and compared the outcomes of those who were vaccinated and those who were not.

The patients involved in the study were undergoing either controlled ovarian hyperstimulation, where medicine is used to stimulate the development of eggs and increase pregnancy rates, or single euploid frozen-thawed embryo transfer, where eggs are fertilized in a laboratory, frozen, thawed and transferred to the womb.

In total, 222 vaccinated patients and 983 unvaccinated patients underwent controlled ovarian hyperstimulation, and 214 vaccinated patients and 733 unvaccinated patients underwent the embryo transfer treatment.

In the hyperstimulation group, the study found no association between COVID vaccination and fertilization rate, which was the main outcome being observed.

Likewise in the embryo transfer group, the study found no association between COVID vaccination and pregnancy. Within this group the researchers also looked at secondary outcomes including ongoing pregnancy and the rate of pregnancy loss. Again, there was no association between COVID vaccination and any of these secondary outcomes.

Dr. Alan Copperman, senior author of the paper and clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at Icahn Mount Sinai, and Dr. Devora Aharon, first author of the paper and a fellow in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Icahn Mount Sinai, told Newsweek: "Concerns have arisen regarding a possible impact of the COVID-19 vaccine on fertility, but clinical studies looking at fertility after COVID-19 vaccination have been limited.

"This is one of the largest studies looking at IVF treatment outcomes and early pregnancy outcomes in vaccinated patients.

"It adds to a growing body of evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine does not impact markers of fertility or early pregnancy outcomes in patients undergoing fertility treatment.

"The findings of our study provide data to reassure clinicians and patients regarding the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine for those who are trying to conceive or are pregnant."

The researchers said that additional large-scale studies would be important to validate their findings.

The study did not include patients who had been vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The research was retrospective and looked at patient data collected between February and September, 2021.

One limitation of the study is that it did not test for COVID infection in the patients, so the researchers did not know how many in the unvaccinated group may have developed natural antibodies. It also did not assess live birth rates.

Dr. Sarah Cross is an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Women's Health at the University of Minnesota who was not involved in the study but is a reviewer for the journal in which it is due to appear.

She told Newsweek: "I think this is a nice study which adds to the growing literature that COVID vaccination does not impair/impact fertility.

"Although IVF is not exactly the same as natural conception, patients undergoing IVF lend themselves nicely to this type of study because their conceptions are so closely monitored."

The study is due to be published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology in April, 2022. It is not the first to support COVID vaccination in pregnant mothers or those trying to conceive.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the COVID vaccine for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future."

On Thursday, a study of more than 2,000 couples funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found no differences in the chances of conception if either the male or female partner had been vaccinated compared to unvaccinated couples. It relied on questionnaires filled out by the participants.

In addition, the European Medicines Agency's COVID task force reviewed several studies involving a total of around 65,000 pregnancies at different stages.

Last week, it reported that the review "did not find any sign of an increased risk of pregnancy complications, miscarriages, preterm births or adverse effects in the unborn babies following mRNA COVID-19 vaccination."

Last year it was reported that rates of vaccination in pregnant women were particularly low. Speaking to Newsweek, doctors recently expressed their support for pregnant women getting vaccinated amid the Omicron surge.

Pregnant woman
A stock photo shows a pregnant woman sitting on a bed. COVID vaccines do not appear to affect fertility, one recent study on IVF patients has found. ASIFE/Getty