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COVID-19 and Male Infertility

Adapted from 20 January 2022 A prospective cohort study of COVID-19 vaccination, SARS-CoV-2 infection, and fertility published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The study found no association between COVID-19 vaccination and the probability of conception per menstrual cycle—in female or male partners who received the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

On the other hand, men in the study who tested positive for the virus appeared to have a decline in fertility for months afterward.

Study participants included 2,126 women in the US and Canada who provided information on lifestyle, medical factors, and characteristics of their partners from December 2020 to September 2021. The participants were followed in the study through November 2021.

The findings support previous research linking COVID-19 infection in men with poor sperm quality and other reproductive dysfunction.

Fever is a known determinant of impaired spermatogenesis, and effects on sperm concentration, motility, and morphology can persist for 3-4 months (i.e., the duration of spermatogenesis).

Fever is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19 infection; therefore, fever could explain the finding of an acute decline in fertility among men with recent COV ID-19 infection. Although fever is also a side effect of vaccination, it is much less common shorter than during COVID-19 infection.

The fertility decline could also be related to immune response and inflammation in the testes and epididymis, which have been observed in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Erectile dysfunction is also more common among males following COVID-19 infection.

The study concluded that the decline in male fertility among COVID-19 infected men could potentially be avoided by getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

February 2022

 

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