Effects of COVID-19 and mRNA vaccines on human fertility

Hum Reprod. 2021 Dec 27;37(1):5-13. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deab238.

Abstract

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has precipitated a global health crisis of unprecedented proportions. Because of its severe impact, multiple COVID-19 vaccines are being rapidly developed, approved and manufactured. Among them, mRNA vaccines are considered as ideal candidates with special advantages to meet this challenge. However, some serious adverse events have been reported after their application, significantly increasing concerns about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines and doubts about the necessity of vaccination. Although several fertility societies have announced that COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are unlikely to affect fertility, there is no denying that the current evidence is very limited, which is one of the reasons for vaccine hesitancy in the population, especially in pregnant women. Herein, we provide an in-depth discussion on the involvement of the male and female reproductive systems during SARS-CoV-2 infection or after vaccination. On one hand, despite the low risk of infection in the male reproductive system or fetus, COVID-19 could pose an enormous threat to human reproductive health. On the other hand, our review indicates that both men and women, especially pregnant women, have no fertility problems or increased adverse pregnancy outcomes after vaccination, and, in particular, the benefits of maternal antibodies transferred through the placenta outweigh any known or potential risks. Thus, in the case of the rapid spread of COVID-19, although further research is still required, especially a larger population-based longitudinal study, it is obviously a wise option to be vaccinated instead of suffering from serious adverse symptoms of virus infection.

Keywords: ACE2; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; angiotensin-converting enzyme 2; coronavirus disease 2019; fertility; mRNA vaccine; pregnant women; reproductive system; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • COVID-19*
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vaccination Hesitancy
  • Vaccines, Synthetic
  • mRNA Vaccines

Substances

  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Synthetic
  • mRNA Vaccine
  • mRNA Vaccines