Will the COVID-19 Vaccine Affect My Fertility?
Updated: Aug 5, 2021
As a Certified Fertility Coach, my job is to support and serve you on your journey from conception to bringing your baby home and everything along the way. I feel a sense of responsibility to answer your questions about how different aspects of your life can affect your fertility and motherhood journey. Lately, there have been a lot of challenging questions about how the COVID-vaccine affects your fertility. I hope this blog post answers a few of your questions.
In my latest podcast episode, I had a chance to chat with Reproductive Endocrinologist Dr. Ringler from California Fertility Partners. He’s been practicing for the last 30 years, and he loves what he does helping women have babies and build families! His hope is to give his patients the best possible chance for a successful outcome.
In our chat, we talked about the COVID vaccine and what that means for people trying to conceive, going through treatments, and if they’re already pregnant. It’s a gray area for a lot of people, so we hope we get a few of your burning questions answered.
Please note that this blog post is not a substitution for medical or mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition.
Initial Recommendation for the COVID-19 Vaccine and Starting Fertility Treatments
Dr. Ringler let us know that one of the most popular questions he receives from patients in his clinic these days is, “Should I get the vaccine?”
From our discussion, he let us know that most fertility clinics follow the guidelines published by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. As a general rule of thumb, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that if you’re planning to get pregnant or you’re currently pregnant and have access to the vaccine, it's recommended you receive the vaccine.
Based on the way the vaccine works, it shouldn’t pose risks to developing a child. When the vaccine is received, it’s taken up by the cells in your arm and your body responds to that messenger RNA by making portions of the spike protein. Spike protein then circulates in your body and your immune system responds to that by making antibodies, the protective mechanism. The goal is that these antibodies can squash a viral particle, so once you have antibodies and you're pregnant, your antibodies will cross the placenta. The baby should be protected, as the CDC has shown.
Studies show that pregnant women with the viral infection can develop more severe disease than non-pregnant women who become infected. The main advantage of getting the vaccine is protecting yourself from developing the severe illness, especially if you're pregnant, diabetic, and/or obese.
At the same time, many doctors still don’t know of any adverse effects of receiving the vaccine in pregnancy. Dr. Ringler recommends that each patient must evaluate their personal lifestyle and make their own individual decision with their doctor based on their risk level, lifestyle, health, and pre-existing conditions.
For example, many people live in large cities and they’re engaged in their communities, so their exposure is at higher risk than someone who lives in the countryside. Those people who live in large cities would benefit from receiving the vaccine.
tl;dr If you’re planning to get pregnant or you’re currently pregnant and have access to the vaccine, it's recommended you take it. If you still have concerns, make a decision with your doctor based on your risk level, lifestyle, health, and pre-existing conditions.
Clinical Trials and the COVID-Vaccine
During clinical trials, there were about two dozen women who became pregnant during the clinical trials and they suffered no adverse effects from having received the vaccine, even though they were pregnant.
From the available research, the evidence shows that the vaccine shouldn’t be harmful to pregnancy.
Pregnancy and the COVID-Vaccine
Another few common questions that Dr. Ringler receives from patients: “Does the vaccine get into the baby? Should I get it in a certain trimester or avoid it?”
Based on his answers, the vaccine does not get into the baby. The vaccine instructs cells in your body to make spike protein, and it doesn't last very long. For this reason, that shouldn’t get into the baby.
Something that can be a positive effect are the antibodies that can protect your baby.
As far as when to get the vaccine, there are not recommendations restricted to a certain trimester. It should not be harmful in any way.
Fertility Treatments and the COVID-Vaccine
The vaccine should not interfere with treatment processes. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends withholding receiving the vaccine three days prior and after to a procedure such as an aid retrieval or transfer to be extra cautionary.
Some people develop a fever after the vaccine, so you want to avoid a fever in case that should have any adverse effects.
The Best COVID-19 Resources for Pregnant Women
Everyone seems to have different information when it comes to COVID-19. Dr. Ringler recommends that the main source is the CDC website.
He says the information there should very straightforward and very clear. As it pertains to clinical trials on pregnant women, there isn’t much information yet.
tl;dr Start with the CDC website and talk to your doctor.