Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its effect on gametogenesis and early pregnancy

Am J Reprod Immunol. 2020 Nov;84(5):e13351. doi: 10.1111/aji.13351. Epub 2020 Oct 9.


SARS-CoV-2 infection and pregnancy has been the topic of hundreds of publications over the last several months; however, few studies have focused on the implications of infection in early pregnancy and reproductive tissues. Here, we analyzed available evidence pertaining to SARS-CoV-2 infection, in early pregnancy, and in reproductive tissues. We searched PubMed and Embase databases in accordance with guidelines of Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) for publications from inception to June 4, 2020. Four reviewers screened titles and abstracts and obtained full-text articles for analysis. Sixty-two studies were included in the review. Biological plausibility for infection with SARS-CoV-2 exists in testis, ovaries, and placenta as they express ACE2 receptor activity. In males, SARS-CoV-2 infection could lead to functional abnormalities leading to spermatogenic failure and male infertility. In females, an alteration of the ACE2 cascade via SARS-CoV-2 infection could lead to impairment in important follicular and luteal processes. There is also evidence of significant placental pathology in SARS-CoV-2 infection, but it is unclear what effects there may be for early pregnancy, though available data suggest less severe effects compared to other respiratory virus outbreaks. Further investigation is needed regarding SARS-CoV-2 in reproductive function and early pregnancy.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; early pregnancy; ovaries; placenta; sperm; testes.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 / metabolism*
  • COVID-19 / virology*
  • Female
  • Gametogenesis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • Placenta / metabolism*
  • Placenta / pathology
  • Placenta / virology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / virology*
  • Reproduction
  • SARS-CoV-2 / physiology*
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*
  • Spermatozoa / pathology
  • Spermatozoa / virology


  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2