No link found between COVID-19 vaccines and male infertility
CLAIM: COVID-19 vaccines cause male infertility.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Claims that the vaccines cause infertility in men are not supported by evidence, according to research and experts. There is some evidence that coronavirus infection may temporarily affect semen production.
THE FACTS: The claim surfaced in recent days amid news about research that suggested COVID-19 could have an effect on male fertility.
In social media posts twisting that research, users suggested that the vaccines, not the disease, were actually to blame.
“Another ‘effect’ from the injections,” one tweet reads. “‘Male Infertility New Symptom Of Long COVID…’”
Experts say there is no basis for the claim that the vaccines have such a side effect.
“There is no evidence indicating that the COVID vaccine can cause male infertility,” Amelia Wesselink, a research assistant professor of epidemiology at Boston University, said in an email.
Dr. Marc Goldstein, surgeon in chief of male reproductive medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, similarly told The Associated Press that “there is absolutely no evidence that the vaccines affect male fertility.”
Wesselink added: “Studies have shown no differences in sperm parameters before and after vaccination, and a study of couples trying to conceive without fertility treatment found no association between vaccination in either partner and fertility.”
The latter study, co-authored by Wesselink, did report that there was an association between men being infected with the coronavirus and a short-term decline in fertility; the researchers said that may be explained by a fever.
“There is some evidence that COVID infection may be associated with short-term declines in semen quality, but the evidence is not particularly strong,” Wesselink told the AP.
A 2021 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found no significant decreases in the sperm count of 45 healthy, vaccinated men. The men were assessed before receiving either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and 70 days after receiving their second dose.
A co-author of the recently released study examining the effects of COVID-19 on male fertility that was cited in the social media posts also said that the research had no relation to the COVID-19 vaccines.
“We did not claim that our study is related to the vaccine or its effect,” Dr. Sanjeeva Srivastava, a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, said in an email.
He said the men in the study, conducted in India, were not vaccinated prior to semen samples being collected. He said that the collection was from COVID-19 recovered patients and taken between October 2020 and December 2020, prior to COVID-19 vaccines rolling out in India in early 2021.
The results found that those with prior COVID-19 showed an issue with several proteins associated with male reproduction. He added that further research is required.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.