With the use of COVID-19 (COVID) vaccines, we are slowly recovering from the COVID pandemic. There, however, remain a significant percentage of individuals that refuse to take the vaccine due to concerns about its impact on fertility. Most of these concerns are based on rumors.
A common concern centers around the perceived similarity between the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein targeted by the vaccine and the placental syncitin-1 protein. The fear is that the vaccine will mistakenly target this placental protein and potentially cause infertility. This theory has been refuted by immunology experts as this similarity is extremely limited and unlikely to cause cross-reactivity.
At InVia Fertility Specialists, we offer a wide variety of fertility treatments including in-vitro fertilization (IVF). A relevant question that may be asked is “does COVID-19 vaccination effect IVF success rates?” This very question was addressed in a recent study by Devora Aharon and colleagues published in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
What did they study?
The research team examined IVF cycle characteristics and clinical outcomes in COVID-19–vaccinated and COVID-19–unvaccinated patients. They compared the outcomes in vaccinated and unvaccinated patients in stimulated IVF cycles as well as frozen embryo transfer cycles.
What were the results?
They studied 222 vaccinated patients and 983 unvaccinated patients who underwent stimulated IVF cycles. They also compared the outcomes in 214 vaccinated and 733 unvaccinated patients undergoing single euploid frozen embryo transfer cycles. (“Euploid” embryos have normal chromosomes.)
After controlling for factors known to affect IVF success, including age, body mass index (BMI), gravidity, parity, serum anti-Müllerian hormone level, and stimulation protocol, there was no difference in any important clinical outcomes when comparing vaccinated with unvaccinated patients.
The clinical outcomes evaluated included:
- Oocyte (egg) number or maturation
- Fertilization rates by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
- Euploid embryo rates
- Miscarriage rates
- Clinical pregnancy rates
What were the conclusions?
Administration of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines was not associated with an adverse effect on ovulation stimulation or early pregnancy outcomes after IVF. These data add to the growing body of evidence reinforcing that COVID-19 vaccination is safe for people who are trying to conceive or who are pregnant.
What we do know is that COVID infection during pregnancy consistently and substantially increases the risk of severe maternal morbidity (illness and hospitalization), maternal mortality (death), and complications for the fetus.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) as well as the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine have strongly recommended that all individuals that are planning to get pregnant, are pregnant or are breast-feeding, should take the COVID vaccine.
At InVia Fertility Specialists, we do the same. Although we recommend our patients take the COVID vaccine, we do not mandate it and we will continue to provide the same high-quality care to our patients regardless of their vaccination status.
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