COVID-19 Vaccines and Infertility- Is there a link? An expert’s view of the evidence: Part II | Isaac Glatstein, MD, MSc

Despite the overwhelming evidence in scores of published medical studies which have clearly shown the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccination, many sectors of the country and indeed the world still remain skeptical regarding the safety, efficacy, or both regarding the novel mRNA vaccines. Health experts are convinced that mass immunization of at least 70% or greater of the US population is the key to prevention of further outbreaks and the morbidity and mortality that will invariably accompany these outbreaks. Communities across the country have used some interesting methods to convince hold outs or fence-sitters to take the jab. These include offering lottery tickets for multi-million-dollar prizes in Michigan and Ohio, free college tuition for teenagers in several states and discounts for a variety of products ranging from Krispy Kreme donuts to Samuel Adams beer. Maine is offering fishing and hunting licenses and Illinois is offering tickets to Six Flags Great America. However, one of the most coveted prizes is being offered by the NFL: a chance to win one of 50 tickets to the upcoming Super Bowl in Los Angeles in February 2022.

In a previous post, found here, we discussed the hypothetical association between Covid-19 vaccinations and the subsequent development of infertility. That article methodically and systematically examined the existing scientific evidence to determine if indeed there existed an association between the administration of the newly approved COVID-19 vaccines and future reproductive issues. The conclusion drawn in that previous article concluded that although there was not yet hard evidence to disprove the connection, it was exceedingly unlikely that the vaccine would have any impact on fertility based on the science and the biology how the vaccine works. However, at the time of the writing of that article in February of this year, there were still not definitive clinical studies disproving the claim that the vaccine could affect a woman or man’s future ability to have children. Since then, a number of important papers have been published which now convincingly disprove any link between COVID-19 vaccinations and infertility. Public health experts are now pointing to these studies as a way of convincing reproductive age individuals and couples regarding the safety of the vaccine. This past week, several important and landmark studies were published in a variety of prestigious journals which demonstrated that there was no link, based on real world scientific evidence, between the COVID-19 vaccine administration and fertility issues. Let us now take a deep dive and look at those studies.

The first of these studies simply evaluated the efficacy of the 2 vaccines released under the FDA EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna products. They aimed to evaluate if the vaccines performed as well under real world conditions as the manufacturers touted during the earlier clinical trials. By studying nearly 4000 health care workers, first responders and other essential workers, the authors found that in weekly testing greater than 95% of the vaccinated workers were protected and among the minority of 5% who received the vaccine and tested positive for COVID-19, their viral load and symptoms were far less than their unvaccinated counterparts. This important study showed that under real life conditions that were not part of a rigorous clinical trial, the vaccines performed exceedingly well.

Now on to the studies looking at the possible reproductive effects. In a just released study that will appear in an upcoming edition of Fertility and Sterility which is the flagship Journal of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, a group in Chicago studied pregnancy rates in three groups of women: an unvaccinated, non-immune group, a vaccinated group and a third group of women who developed SARS-CoV-2 infection and hence had natural immunity. If the vaccine caused infertility then the hypothesis would be that the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein shared a common sequence with a placental protein called syncytin-1 which is important in embryo implantation. We would then expect to see both the naturally infected group and the vaccine group to have lower pregnancy rates as compared to the unvaccinated group. In fact, the results clearly showed no difference in pregnancy rates between the 3 groups, demonstrating, in the words of the authors that “physicians and public health officials can now counsel women of reproductive age that neither previous illness with COVID-19 nor antibodies produced from vaccination to COVID-19 will cause infertility.

Professor Raoul Orvieto who is associated with the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, Israel, studied couples who underwent IVF both pre- and post-vaccination. Both the husbands and wives received the vaccination as part of the study. According to Dr. Orvieto, “we decided to carry out this research because many people were scared of the possible effects of the vaccines on fertility, and I hope that the outcome of the study will help fight misconceptions about the vaccine”. The authors concluded that there were no discernable differences in several important parameters between the pre- and post- vaccination treatments and they stated that the vaccine has no effects on both male and female fertility.

Yet another publication which was published this week in the highly influential Journal of the American Medical Association and authored by the Urology group at the University of Miami looked exclusively at the male side of the fertility equation and demonstrated no effects of the vaccine on men and their ability to conceive. The authors stated that this may be explained by the fact that the vaccine only contains an mRNA message and is not a live or attenuated viral product.

Lastly, a late breaking study which was presented at the ongoing meeting of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology looked at patients in 11 clinics in Spain and showed that hormone levels remained constant both before and after natural infection which is tremendously reassuring for those women who contracted COVID-19 and now wish to become pregnant.

Taken together, this emerging body of literature should provide comfort to those who have understandable doubts or concerns about the vaccine causing a possible fertility issue as all of the studies are in agreement that the vaccines had no impact that was measured. The hope is that these scientific studies and the prestigious groups who performed the studies will provide patients with powerful data to allow them to make the best decision regarding COVID-19 vaccination for themselves, and their families.

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Isaac Glatstein, MD, MSc is a Harvard-trained, Board-Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist who specializes in Infertility, Assisted Reproduction, in vitro fertilization, recurrent pregnancy loss, Fertility Preservation, and minimally invasive uterine surgery. He graduated from NYU School of Medicine and completed his Residency training at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in NYC in Obstetrics and Gynecology and his Fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the Harvard Medical School/Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He was also awarded a prestigious Fulbright Research Fellowship in addition to other Grants and Prize Papers. He was a founding partner, President and an Associate Medical Director at Reproductive Science Center of New England as well as an Associate Medical Director at Boston IVF- one of the largest and most successful fertility practices in the country. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including Castle Connolly’s Top Doctor award, the Best of Boston Doctors award, and other accolades for research, teaching and patient care. In addition, Dr. Glatstein is one of a select group of fertility specialists in the country who is also an expert in the laboratory side of IVF, having earned a Master’s degree with distinction in the Biotechnology of Human Reproduction and Embryology. His focus was on the cutting edge use of Artificial Intelligence in Embryo Selection to improve patient outcomes and pregnancy rates. He is currently working on developing a Center of Excellence for Reproductive Medicine in the area which will serve the Lakewood NJ and surrounding communities. His practice, Conceive NJ, is scheduled to open in the second half of 2021.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Hus ending was too verbose and allows for unjustified skepticism.
    He should have ended with, “All evidence shows that the vaccine does NOT cause infertility. Anyone telling you otherwise is handing you garbage.”

  2. The vaccine hasn’t even been around for a year so I’m not sure how you evaluate the long term effects on reproduction. We have no idea what will happen in 5 OR 10 years. We also have no data regarding children and teens being vaccinated and how that will impact their development, both regarding fertility and generally. We just don’t know enough yet.
    Also, you don’t mention any details, for example, the sample size of the study. Were 50,000 people included in the study or were 50 people? I’m not sure why you don’t provide a critical review of the literature that’s available, which is limited altogether.
    Either way, if you speak to local rabbonim, they will tell you that they have seen an increase of female issues in women who were vaccinated. That doesn’t mean every woman who was vaccinated has issues, but it’s still a risk.

  3. I have no patience to read through more of this type of gobbledygook. The doctors are all trying to show how wonderful and safe these vaccines are and I get it, because that’s what they’re told they need to do.

    The fact is the China virus vaccines are way too new in the overall scheme of things to know what’s going to be in 10 15 20 or 30 years down the line. If they say they know, then they have to be lying! We already know of situations where the China virus vaccine has affected clotting, something very important by women, והמבין יבין.

    How they can stand here in front of us and tell us how safe it is and wonderful, and la di da, is completely and utterly amazing. The one thing that the China virus has done to us is it has caused people not to be able to think for themselves. I firmly believe a major side effect of the China virus regardless of whether one had it or not is that it affected the ability of people to think normally, rationally, and logically. It’s utterly amazing how upside down semi-normal people have now begun to think.

    It’s time to return to pre-china virus days where people actually used the brain in their heads.

    Now go use yours! Think things through logically. Weigh your options. Understand things. RESEARCH THINGS!

  4. i know at least 3 older people that their health totally went south aprox a month after taking the vaccine , they aged like 20 years with all types of health issues

  5. Thank you Dr. Glatstein! You knew there would be Reshaim denigrating you who don’t know of your care and chassodim for all Yiddishe soon to be mothers. You did it L’toeles Ho’Rabim. #Dr.GlatsteinChossid!

  6. Do u have real numbers of vaccinated people having healthy children? That is the only study that counts.

    u are talking like a doctor that gas gone to NON JEWISH MED school not like an informed individual who uses his own brain cells and DASS TORAH.

  7. Thanks Dr. Glatstein for a great article. With the delta variant spreading I hope any hold-outs will get vaccinated asap.

  8. Yay! so all three groups became pregnant. Did all 3 groups have the same amount of successful births. The doctors that claim there can be an issue never said ppl. won’t become pregnant but the placenta can suddenly and prematurely abrupt. Untill ALL the women have their healthy full term babies there is no study.

  9. טוב שברופאים…:
    You begin your rant by stating that you don’t have patience to read all this stuff.
    You end my saying, “RESEARCH THINGS!”
    Research requires patient and focused reading. ????

  10. Dr. Glatstein put his name and credibility on the line.

    A bunch of yutzkups write silly comments and even put words in bold (oy now I’m scared) but refuse to sign their names or list their credentials.

    Hmmmmm who should we listen to?

    Thank you Dr. Glatstein. We in Lakewood are so appreciative that you have dedicated your life to helping all couples have children, to opening up your center here to help Klal Yisroel. Please just ignore these anti vaxers, and other imbisols who have done nothing for our community other than write comments here without any credentials.

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