New research on male fertility and COVID-19 has been making waves in the press lately, causing alarm for the potential negative effects the virus may have on male fertility.
The study found COVID-19 in the testes of six men during autopsies, and the virus was also found in the testes of an asymptomatic 28-year-old man. Researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine were quick to publish their research findings in The World Journal of Men’s Health.
The hundreds of articles resulting from this study have led to alarm and concern for those trying to conceive during the pandemic. We have received countless questions on social media and during our one-on-one patient conversations. I’d like to set the record straight.
Should you be worried?
As of right now, no.
At this time, there is insufficient time and data to suggest that COVID-19 has an impact on male (or female) fertility. Drawing conclusions from only seven patients and alarming the public is irresponsible. For context, in the medical community a conclusion is usually drawn after several studies and the analysis of thousands of patients over the course of time.
Proving that active COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 particles are present in the sperm is also problematic. Due to the testis blood barrier, which is the permeability of the blood going to and from the testis, it is difficult to determine whether the COVID-19 originated in the testis or elsewhere in the body.
Understanding the effects of COVID-19 on fertility in men and women is important. We are excited to be a part of UCSF ASPIRE: Assessing the Safety of Pregnancy In the CoRonavirus PandEmic, a proactive study looking at fertility, pregnancy and miscarriage outcomes during the pandemic.
We understand that this is a trying time for everyone. While these findings certainly deserve further investigation, we support drawing conclusions based on extensive research.
The best thing you can do to stay safe is the same things we’ve all been doing – socially distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands. I promise that we are working hard to understand the virus and its impacts and will keep you informed when conclusive findings are gleaned.
Stay safe and be well!
Medical contribution by Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron, M.D.
Dr. Hirshfeld-Cytron is board certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility and has been practicing medicine since 2004. She completed her Obstetrics and Gynecology residency at the University of Chicago, and then completed her three-year fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Northwestern.