May 27, 2021, 2:19:52 PM CDT Dec 4, 2023, 9:23:06 PM CST

Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility?

A pediatric gynecologist shares the facts about the COVID-19 vaccine and fertility

Mother and daughter talking Mother and daughter talking

COVID‑19 vaccines are a crucial tool that can help your family avoid getting sick and slow the spread of the virus. Still, some families have questions about vaccines and how they work. There is a lot of misinformation out there – including the myth that the COVID‑19 vaccine can cause infertility.

"This myth is just not logical when you look at the science," says Nirupama DeSilva, M.D., a pediatric gynecologist at Children's Health℠ and Professor at UT Southwestern. Dr. DeSilva explains the facts behind the COVID‑19 vaccine and fertility to help clear up any misunderstandings about the vaccine's safety.

Does the COVID‑19 vaccine make you infertile?

There is no evidence that the COVID‑19 vaccine can cause infertility. With all the data from studies and after millions of vaccinations, no evidence suggests that infertility occurs after the vaccine – or that it is even possible. In fact, no vaccine has ever been shown to cause infertility.

This myth may come from a misunderstanding about how the vaccine works.

"There is some concern and misinformation being spread that suggests that how the COVID‑19 vaccine works can affect implantation of the placenta," says Dr. DeSilva. "But this is not scientifically accurate."

The COVID-19 vaccine contains a small piece of mRNA. This mRNA contains instructions on how to create a spike protein identical to one found on the COVID‑19 virus. Once our bodies build that protein, which is harmless by itself, our immune system develops antibodies that protect us against COVID‑19.

False claims say that the protein from the COVID‑19 vaccine is similar to a protein called syncyntin-1, which supports placenta growth. However, these are not the same protein. There is no data to suggest that the vaccine could affect fertility or a growing placenta.

Additionally, the COVID‑19 vaccine cannot change a person's DNA. This is another false claim that is based on misinformation. mRNA does not affect a person's DNA or genetic makeup in any way – or their future child's DNA.

Can the COVID‑19 vaccine affect your period?

A change in menstrual cycle is not a documented side effect of the COVID‑19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, some women have reported a temporary change in their periods after getting the vaccine. This may fuel fears that the COVID‑19 vaccine can affect fertility.

Dr. DeSilva says that if a change occurs in your menstrual cycle after vaccination, it would be temporary and not affect fertility.

"Infections, immune reactions and fevers are understood to cause short-term, self-limited changes in cycles," says Dr. DeSilva. You may have been sick or stressed in the past and noticed a change in your cycle or have even skipped a period. Since the vaccine triggers your body's immune response, it could temporarily affect your periods, too. But just like a cold or flu, once your immune response is over, your menstrual cycles go back to normal.

Why should children and teens get the COVID‑19 vaccine?

Children and teens can still get sick from COVID-19, even if they are less likely than adults to have severe complications. Vaccinating children and teens helps protect them, your family and your entire community.

Vaccination is backed by science – including major medical organizations, from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the North American Society of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

"This is not a recommendation that multiple medical societies would make lightly if there were a true concern about reproductive health," says Dr. DeSilva.

Dr. DeSilva recommends talking to your kids about their feelings about getting the vaccine. They may not be getting accurate information about the vaccine, so you need to help them learn about the evidence.

"Our teenagers are old enough that they could be part of this decision," says Dr. DeSilva "This is an age where we start to allow them to take responsibility with their health care, and this is a great opportunity to allow them to do so."

Lastly, for families who are concerned about fertility, Dr. DeSilva says the best way to protect fertility is to protect overall health. While some causes of infertility cannot be controlled, you can focus on everyday habits such as eating well and getting exercise.

There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine can cause infertility. A pediatric gynecologist at Children's Health explains the facts behind the COVID-19 vaccine and fertility for parents who are considering vaccinating their child.

More COVID‑19 resources

Children's Health is committed to remaining a trusted source of health information and care for you and your family. See more resources about the COVID‑19 vaccine and ways to keep your family healthy at the Children's Health COVID‑19 hub.

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