Hopeful Dads Can Relax About COVID Vax: No Connection to Infertility
Researchers in a recent study to determine whether licensed COVID-19 vaccines are harming male fertility were inundated with hundreds of emails from panicked men and their concerned partners ahead of the publication. Now the results of 45 vaccinated men are available: none showed significant signs of decreased sperm count after receiving their injections.
It is always possible that men who experience side effects after vaccination may experience low sperm count for a few weeks, just as they might after a viral infection. But there is no reason to be concerned about the significant adverse effects on male fertility, study co-author Ranjith Ramasamy, MD, of the University of Miami Health System, said in an interview. with MedPage today. “People shouldn’t be worried. Vaccines are very safe.”
Ramasamy, who said he himself received around 500 emails, added that the real threat to male sexual health is COVID-19 itself. The virus has been linked to lower sperm production and higher rates of erectile dysfunction.
For the study, which appears as a research letter in JAMA, Ramasamy and colleagues followed 45 men (aged 18 to 50, median age 28) who had been vaccinated with Moderna (53%) or Pfizer-BioNTech (47%) mRNA vaccines. The study population was from South Florida and most of the men were Latinos.
The study found that there was no significant drop in sperm count in men around 70 days after the last vaccine injection. “Some guys’ sperm count actually increased,” Ramasamy said, although it is not known if the vaccines are responsible.
According to the researchers, “The limitations of the study include the small number of men recruited; limited generalizability beyond young and healthy males; a short follow-up; and the absence of a control group. In addition, although semen analysis is the basis for assessing fertility, it is an imperfect predictor of fertility potential. “
Yet “even though the number 45 is small, we are confident that we can generalize this to the rest of the population,” Ramasamy noted. “We are quite confident” that the unauthorized Johnson & Johnson and Novavax vaccines will not affect sperm count either, he added.
The study’s authors weren’t the only ones who heard patients with agitation talk about possible vaccine-fertility links in men. “Some men have even delayed their immunizations because of this concern while they were trying to conceive,” said Parviz K. Kavoussi, MD, a reproductive urologist in Austin, Texas. “When asked, the majority of men cited social media such as Facebook as a source of information,” he said. MedPage today.
The possible impact of vaccines on fertility in women is also of great concern. The CDC said there was no proof adverse effects.
Bradley Anawalt, MD, chief of medicine at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, said the study results are good news. “In general, the potential adverse effects of drugs and vaccines on reproductive function are not carefully studied,” he said. MedPage today. “It’s great to have further confirmation that the available COVID vaccines are safe and that the benefits far outweigh the risks of very rare side effects.”
But what about the risk of a temporary decrease in sperm count due to the side effects of the vaccine? Ramasamy said the study found no signs of a problem on that front. However, Anawalt noted that “any systemic disease can temporarily reduce sperm production until the disease resolves. Since it takes about 3 months for sperm to be produced and fully mature, the decrease in sperm count occurs months after the systemic disease resolves.
“The common side effects of COVID vaccinations – muscle pain at the injection site, flu-like syndrome with muscle and joint pain – usually go away after a few days,” he added. “Men are unlikely to experience a significant decrease in sperm count from these short-term side effects. There are reports of people having more serious side effects – fever, severe muscle pain, and joint pain – that persist for more than a few days. Men who experience a more severe reaction may have a short-term drop in sperm count that occurs 3 to 4 months after vaccination. “
The authors of the study found earlier that the particles of the COVID-19 virus remain in the penis and testes 7 to 9 months after infection, although they do not appear to enter semen in patients who fail. are restored, Ramasamy said. Researchers have linked particles in the penis to erectile dysfunction in COVID-19 survivors.
As for the number of sperm, “it drops between 3 and 6 months after infection, then it recovers,” he explained.
Kavoussi noted that “there is some evidence that some men infected with COVID-19 can develop orchitis, which can lead to possible decreased testicular function. This does not mean that all men infected with the virus will end up infertile. , but there is some evidence that it can negatively impact testicular function in some men. “
Anawalt gave this advice: “Get vaccinated. Good for your health. Good for your sex life.
No study funding was reported.
Not all of the doctors interviewed for this article reported any relevant disclosures.