COVID Vaccination: The Impact On Fertility, Its Treatment And Pregnancy
With government and health agencies actively encouraging people to get the COVID vaccine and warnings from other sources regarding the safety of the vaccines, many couples considering or already undergoing fertility treatment are concerned about the impact of getting vaccinated before or during fertility treatment, and what affect it may have on a pregnancy.
In this article, our experts at Medfem Fertility Clinic provide their best advice in this regard, and also share the position of other medical authorities to provide greater peace of mind.
Many couples considering or already undergoing fertility treatment are concerned about the impact of getting vaccinated on the success of the treatment, as well as any possible effect on the outcome of a pregnancy.
Faced with conflicting and confusing information and opinions, their concerns range from worrying about what effect the vaccine may have on an unborn baby to concerns that the vaccine can cause infertility or that getting vaccinated could affect the outcome of fertility treatment.
As a result, some couples are delaying their fertility journeys for fear of contracting COVID-19 during pregnancy, risking their already compromised fertility or reducing their chances of success during fertility treatment.
Here are some answers.
Can COVID and the Vaccine Affect An Unborn Child?
According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), there is currently little data on which to evaluate the impact of the vaccine or the disease on pregnant individuals. In addition, given the challenges of enrolling pregnant women in clinical trials, full data is unlikely to be available for many years.
However, the Society adds that what we do know is that the COVID-19 vaccine is made without the live virus. This means that it is impossible to get COVID from the vaccine. In addition, in previous vaccines that used a similar design (vaccines without a live virus), getting vaccinated was not associated with developing severe illness in either the pregnant mother or her unborn baby. Their conclusion then is that the COVID vaccines are also safe for pregnant women or those contemplating pregnancy.
Both the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and Society for Maternal and Fetal Medicine (SMFM) have released statements supporting use of the COVID-19 vaccine in pregnant and breastfeeding women.
The British Fertility Society also concurs, saying: “There is no reason to believe that any of the COVID-19 vaccines would be harmful in pregnancy. None of the vaccines contain live virus and so there is no risk that the pregnant woman or her baby could get COVID-19 from the vaccine. No safety concerns have been found in research studies that have followed up more than 130,000 pregnant women after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination in the USA and Scotland.”
Our experts at Medfem Fertility Clinic do not believe that the vaccine will negatively affect the preganancy.
While all the risks associated with taking the vaccine is not yet known, when considering whether to take any medication prior to or during pregnancy, the benefits must be weighed up relative to the theoretical or known risks. In fact, given how dangerous COVID can be during pregnancy, and the lack of evidence of harm to pregnant women associated with receiving the COVID vaccine, it is recommended that women who intend to fall pregnant be vaccinated to protect themselves – and their babies – against severe COVID complications for which they are at high risk during pregnancy.
Pregnant women are at a high risk for developing complications related to COVID-19 in the third trimester of pregnancy. These complications can include severe lung disease, and this may lead to hospitalisation, admission to ICU and possible mortality.
These complications put the unborn baby at risk, as there may be a need for premature delivery.
Given these risks, prevention is a top priority.
At Medfem Fertility Clinic, we recommend that the vaccination is taken at least two weeks before starting a fertility treatment cycle, and, if a second vaccination is required, that this is done before the treatment program begins.
However, it is important that each patient discuss vaccination with their fertility specialist to decide what the best course of action is for them and their family.
Can The Vaccine Cause Infertility?
SASREG (The Southern African Society of Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy), of which Medfem Fertility Clinic is a proud member, says that although they are aware of the amount of misinformation circulating online about the negative impacts the COVID-19 vaccine could have on fertility, there are no scientific reports that suggest COVID-19 could affect fertility in the female partner.
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) also confirms: “Available data indicate that COVID-19 vaccines do not cause infertility in women or men. In the randomized blinded Pfizer-BioNTech trial, a similar number of women conceived after receiving the vaccine as those who received the placebo.” It adds that because COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are not composed of live virus, they are not thought to cause an increased risk of infertility, first or second trimester loss, stillbirth, or congenital anomalies.
Its recommendations are in line with those of the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM).
The British Fertility Society also says there is absolutely no evidence, and no theoretical reason, that any of the COVID vaccines can affect the fertility of women or men. This includes whether you are trying on your own or having fertility treatment.
Can Getting Vaccinated Negatively Impact Fertility Treatment?
Some couples have delayed receiving fertility treatment while they deliberate if they must receive the vaccine first or not.
“There’s no evidence that vaccination before or during fertility treatment will impact the outcome of treatment in any way,” says Dr Sulaiman Heylen, president of SASREG. “As the vaccine does not contain an actual virus, there is also no reason to delay pregnancy attempts until after vaccination. In fact, delaying fertility treatment can further reduce your chances of successful treatment outcomes, with studies showing a reduction in live birth rates in patients who have postponed treatment.”
The British Medical Journal reported that it was safe for people undergoing fertility treatment to be vaccinated during treatment. However, it urged patients to consider the time in which they chose to get vaccinated because of the possible side effects in the first few days of getting vaccinated.
Our experts at Medfem Fertility Clinic recommend that the vaccination is taken at least two weeks before starting a fertility treatment cycle, and that a where a second vaccination is required, this done before starting the treatment program.
Where To Get Answers
If you have any concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on your fertility, or on the outcome of your fertility treatment or on your pregnancy, we would like to invite you to speak to one of our fertility specialists.
Our team at Medfem Fertility Clinic believes in making world-class fertility treatments available for everyone. It is our joy and commitment to give you a positive outcome to your fertility journey, so you will have a fond memory of feeling empathy, caring and being part of the Medfem Fertility Clinic family.
Simply click here to book an initial consultation or contact us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244.
We look forward to meeting you!