Now that the majority of people living in the U.S. have been vaccinated for COVID-19, harmful disinformation continues to spread online.
After a pair of physicians petitioned to question the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine, anti-vaccination activists misconstrued the information and used it as an opportunity to spread unfounded claims online concerning the impact of the COVID-19 vaccination on female fertility. According to a study by the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, Google searches related to infertility and coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines increased by 34,900% afterward.
Even with the world’s leading medical experts heralding vaccination as safe, and having already completed vaccination themselves, the underlying fear around vaccination continues to persist.
For those trying to get pregnant or currently pregnant, these rumors unnecessarily stoke fear and panic. Patients in the midst of fertility treatment fear their chances will lessen, or change, after vaccination. This is simply not true.
Here’s what you should know
Why do these rumors continue? Could there be truth to them?
All it takes is a viral post being shared thousands of times, regardless of truth, to be believed as fact simply due to repetition. This does not make them true. Claims of the impact on female fertility are not based on data or research. Those who made these claims admitted so.
We’d like to add our voices to the conversation and share medical facts for you to consider as you determine what choice is best for you.
Does the vaccine impact fertility or chances of conception?
Because COVID-19 mRNA vaccines (both Pfizer and Moderna) and the adenoviral vector vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) are not composed of a live virus, they are not thought to cause an increased risk of infertility, first or second trimester loss, stillbirth, or congenital anomalies.
Organizations such as the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) have all deemed vaccination safe.
Does the vaccine impact pregnancy or breastfeeding?
Updates from ASRM show that pregnant individuals are at an increased risk of more severe complications from COVID-19 infection. The theoretical risk of COVID-19 vaccination to periconception (the timeframe from before conception to early pregnancy) and pregnant women is significantly less than the real risk of acquiring COVID-19.
Research is being conducted through V-safe, a smartphone-based tool that collects voluntary data using text messaging and web surveys from vaccinated individuals. A Pregnancy Registry collects additional information from those who complete vaccination in the periconception period or during pregnancy. As of March 8, 2021, more than 44,000 V-safe participants had indicated they were pregnant at the time they received their COVID-19 vaccination.
Preliminary CDC data found that for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines there were no concerning differences between pregnant and non-pregnant women. This was based on the incidence of reported local reactions (such as pain, swelling, redness, or itching) or systemic reactions (fatigue, headache, myalgia, chills, nausea, fever) after both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and after the first dose of the Moderna vaccine.
The rates of miscarriage, stillbirth, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia or gestational hypertension, eclampsia, and intrauterine growth restriction were lower in the V-safe pregnancy registry compared to background rates.
What vaccination symptoms should I expect? Will I be safe if pregnant or TTC?
You may experience a fever, and for some women, they may miss a period. A missed period is no indication of future or current fertility. Patients who experience fever following vaccination should take acetaminophen (Tylenol), which has been proven safe for use in pregnancy.
While COVID-19 vaccination may cause fever, this should not be a concern. While fever in pregnancy (particularly the 1st trimester) has been associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects, a recent study demonstrated the association no longer remained significant if the patient is taking over 400 mcg of folic acid daily, which can be found in the common prenatal vitamin.
Another large Danish cohort study did not demonstrate any increased risk of congenital anomalies in those who reported fever in the first trimester. Additionally, the most common symptom of COVID-19 infection itself is fever (83-99% of affected patients).