Humanity has been familiar with most viruses since ancient times. The Egyptians suffered from smallpox as early as the third millennium BC, and mammoths were mowed down by anthrax. However, this is not the case with the new coronavirus: it appeared quite recently, and vaccines for it were created in record time. And so the impact of COVID-19 and its vaccines raises many questions. One of the new ones is whether coronavirus vaccines harm male strength, will they cause infertility?
Rumors and reports of COVID-19 vaccines affecting fertility continue to circulate, adding to people’s doubts about vaccination. Let’s figure out what to fear and what scientists have found out.
COVID-19 and male infertility
Although the long-term effects of the new coronavirus infection are not fully understood, there is growing concern that it could negatively impact male fertility.
Recently, a team of researchers from the University of Miami Health System studied the impact of the virus that causes COVID-19 on the ability to conceive in men. They found that the virus was able to live in male reproductive organs for several months after initial infection. This may lead to temporary problems.
Such an effect is not uncommon for viral infections, especially those that cause fever. In the same way, for example, the results of the spermogram worsen in men who have had the flu. Well, almost everyone knows that mumps, or mumps, can lead to male infertility.
There is growing evidence that COVID-19 infection does indeed reduce male fertility, especially sperm count.
In particular, men who have recently contracted the virus have lower sperm counts than their peers who tested negative for COVID-19. However, the researchers noted that sperm counts often returned to pre-Covid levels within six months.
But it’s not just sperm counts that change when infected with the novel coronavirus. For example, in a paper published in Reproduction earlier this year, scientists said clinical studies continue to show changes in sperm quality.
So, a severe form of COVID-19 can worsen the quality of seminal fluid and reduce the number of motile sperm. On the other hand, the researchers cautioned that further research is needed to confirm the results.
Thus, much remains unclear about the impact of coronavirus on male fertility. However, returning to the flu, it is worth bearing in mind that severe viral diseases often affect the ability to conceive a child. Fortunately, as a rule, fertility in men is restored if the cause is a general deterioration in the state of the body and inflammatory processes do not affect the reproductive organs.
Zaher Meri, MD, gynecologist, Connecticut
Published in November 2020 in Frontiers in Physiology and Medical Virology, studies predict and suggest a potential risk to male fertility based on data related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. I think that, despite these comments, it is too early to say that COVID-19 can cause male infertility or affect male fertility potential in the long term.
We need well-designed studies of male survivors of COVID-19 and we need to track their fertility potential over time before we can come to any conclusion.
However, concerns about men are well-founded and based on the effects of other viruses like the COVID-19 virus, such as strains of SARS.
At the same time, pathogens similar to the new coronavirus have been proven to affect male fertility, but not female. Women’s ability to conceive after such diseases does not suffer. That is why men in this case cause concern, but women do not.
There is currently no evidence that a man’s age could determine the extent of any effect on fertility. Although, as men age, they become more susceptible to the influence of any viruses, so more serious consequences in older groups of patients are quite logically justified.
Do Covid Vaccines Affect Male Fertility?
But what about vaccines? Concerns that the covid vaccine could affect pregnant women are due to the impact on the immune system and the slight similarity between the genetic code of the protein on the spike of the new coronavirus and syncytin-1, a protein in the placenta.
The similarity, which excites antivaxers, is highly exaggerated. Well, there is nothing surprising in its very fact: about 20 amino acids are involved in the synthesis of all proteins, so the repetition of fragments is inevitable.
So the vaccines do not affect pregnancy, as well as the ability to conceive. And so much so that some experts do not even recommend postponing conception after the introduction of the vaccine (this is not yet an official position). And what about men?
Scientists have already examined sperm count in men after being vaccinated against coronavirus, and found no evidence that vaccines lead to a long-term decrease in sperm count or have any other negative effect on male fertility. However, short-term effects are possible.
What research has been done?
- In clinical trials of the Pfizer vaccine, 16% of men experienced a temporary decrease in seminal fluid production. This is the same 16% who survived the vaccination with a short-term fever and chills. That is, the reason for the change in sperm was a feverish condition, the same as with a normal SARS or flu.
- Another study looked at long-term effects, with fluid samples taken 70 days after the second dose of the vaccine. And they found out that, regardless of age, in volunteers aged 18-50, all sperm parameters were normal.
So experts urge to protect yourself from the disease with the help of vaccinations: the impact of the disease on the body is really serious.
Amin Gerati, Male Infertility Expert, Johns Hopkins University
The risk of contracting COVID-19 for male fertility is much higher than the potential effects of vaccination, which studies show are non-existent.
Although the virus itself can cause fertility problems, especially in men, vaccines are not associated with any fertility problems. Everyone who has no restrictions on vaccination should be vaccinated.
If a man has contracted COVID-19, it is important to see a urologist or fertility specialist to prospectively monitor the impact of the infection on his potential and take measures to restore reproductive function.
Ways to increase male and female fertility include overall health improvement: maintaining a normal weight, eating healthy, exercising, taking supplements such as vitamin D, CoQ10 and others, and not smoking. For more information on what to do to improve your chances of conceiving, read the article «5 scientific ways to increase male fertility.»
“COVID-19 vaccine — can it affect fertility?” / Schaler, Laurentina, and Mary Wingfield. // Irish journal of medical science — Oct 15 2021 — 1–3.
Covid-19: No evidence that vaccines can affect fertility, says new guidance. / Jacobucci G. // BMJ. — Feb 19, 2021
Does mRNA SARS-CoV-2 vaccine detrimentally affect male fertility, as reflected by semen analysis? / Lifshitz D, Haas J, Lebovitz O, et al. // Reprod Biomed Online — 2021.09
Could COVID-19 have an impact on male fertility? / Illiano E, Trama F, Costantini E. // Andrologia — July 2020 — 52(6)