Corona vaccination: the rumor of infertility

Infertility due to the Corona vaccination? Many women are confused due to rumors and misinformation circulating on the Internet. The fact is: even after almost a year of worldwide vaccination against the corona virus, there is no evidence that the corona vaccine causes infertility – learn more here.

The Standing Commission on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccination against COVID-19 for all unvaccinated persons over the age of 12. Women with a perspective or concrete desire to have children, the vaccination is also strongly recommended, so that they are optimally protected against this disease before pregnancy occurs.

Dr. Robl-Mathieu, gynecologist and member of the STIKO, explains what there is to know about the rumors about the COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy and breastfeeding

Mrs. Dr. Robl-Mathieu, COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, lactation and infertility – what’s new??

But on the Internet and especially in the social media, there are persistent false reports about infertility after a COVID-19 vaccination.

The myth refers to the false assumption that the body of a vaccinated person forms antibodies against the spike protein of the coronavirus after vaccination and that these antibodies could also be directed against an endogenous protein, syncytin-1, due to the similarity – and thus impair the formation of the placenta.

But this explanation has a crucial catch: it is not true. To clarify how related, i.e. similar, two proteins are, you have to look at the sequence of amino acids that make up proteins. The spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus consists of about 1.300 amino acids, the placental protein syncytin-1 of around 500. If eight to ten identical amino acids follow each other in two proteins, the probability of a cross-reaction increases. In the case of syncytin-1 and the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, however, at most four identical ones follow one another. This means that while there is indeed a small overlap in the gene sequences of the proteins. However, this is much too small to lead to protein confusion.

For classification: such similarities can also be found in normal cold viruses. Theoretically, therefore, all women who have ever had a cold should be concerned about their fertility, but this is not the case.

Data show: Women with antibodies also get pregnant

A cross-reaction can therefore be excluded. This is also supported by the data: Because if there really was a negative effect on fertility with the Corona vaccine, this should have already led to complications and miscarriages in the clinical trials of the vaccines. However, both are not the case. In addition: Women who have survived a Covid 19 infection also give birth to healthy children – in the USA, a study counted almost 14 between March 2020 and March 2021.000 babies whose mothers had previously had COVID-19. And participants also became pregnant after receiving the Corona vaccines during the pivotal trial by vaccine developers BioNTech and Pfizer.

Update of the STIKO recommendation on Moderna

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) approved the vaccine Spikevax® (Vaccine Moderna) by Moderna on 18. November 2021 limited to use for ages 30 and older. The STIKO sees this as a precautionary measure, since various data indicate that the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis is higher in younger people after vaccination with Spikevax® than after vaccination with Comirnaty® from BioNTech/Pfizer. In addition, according to the STIKO recommendation, pregnant women (from the second trimester of pregnancy) should only be vaccinated with Comirnaty® from BioNTech/Pfizer as a precautionary measure, regardless of their age. Importantly, Moderna’s Spikevax® vaccine (Vaccine Moderna) remains an important, safe, and effective element of the vaccination campaign for individuals 30 years of age and older – especially for the necessary booster vaccinations. The COVID-19 vaccine recommendation update on this point can be found here

Does the Corona vaccination affect the female menstrual cycle?

Some women report intermittent bleeding, increased or absent menstruation, and irregularities in the female cycle after receiving the Corona vaccine. Good to know: Such changes in the cycle are also known with other vaccinations or infections and are attributed to the activation of the immune system. A direct, pathological connection with vaccination against COVID 19 is not known, according to the Robert Koch Institute. And further: The observed disturbances of the cycle are temporary and not associated with infertility.

In addition, cycle disturbances after vaccination do not necessarily have to be due to the vaccine administered. A frequent trigger of such disturbances is stress. And typical vaccination reactions such as fever, fatigue or muscle pain mean stress for the body. The good news: A disturbed cycle usually settles down again by itself. However, if the irregularities persist for more than three months after vaccination, this should be checked by a doctor. Incidentally, menstrual irregularities can be listed as a possible vaccine complication under side effects.bundle.en

No evidence of possible infertility in males either

For boys and men, too: so far, there is no scientific evidence that their fertility is affected by the Corona vaccination. The situation is different, however, when it comes to the risk after infection with COVID-19

from. According to the Paul Ehrlich Institute, the data available for the approval of the vaccines "ensures the best possible safety for the exclusion of damage to reproductive organs and of any impairment of reproduction in humans."

Good to know: Currently, there is little scientific evidence on whether infection with COVID-19 limits fertility. However, it can also not be ruled out, because the coronavirus can attack a variety of organs in the human body and cause permanent damage. International studies also refer to a partly reduced sperm production

For men infected with the coronavirus. The lack of testosterone in this case could also be related to the neurological long-term effects of a Corona infection.

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