New Study: Evaluating the Impact of mRNA Vaccines on IVF Outcomes and Sperm Parameters
A new research paper, first of its kind, evaluated for any potential effects from the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines on reproductive outcomes in patients going for IVF. While the sample size for the study was small (36 couples), it is the first study to evaluate for the impact vaccines may have on IVF outcomes. The researchers mentioned that there has been a lot of information being spread online around the potential negative impact of vaccines on fertility, which prompted them to perform the clinical study to verify the validity of these concerns. It is important to note that this blogpost is for sharing the results from this trial and is not medical advice on whether or not to get the vaccine or when to get it relative to upcoming fertility treatments. Any and all concerns regarding this need to be discussed directly with your family physician or fertility doctor to help you make a medically appropriate decision for your case.*
Who were the Patients Included in the Study?
The study consisted of 36 couples. All couples had undergone an IVF prior to being vaccinated and then another IVF after receiving both shots of their COVID-19 vaccines. The second IVF (post-vaccination) was done anywhere from 7-85 days after the second vaccination. This study compared IVF and reproductive outcomes prior to and after completing the two-dose vaccination. Both partners in all 36 couples were vaccinated. None of the patients included had comorbidities, such as, hypertension, asthma, obesity, or diabetes.
Do the mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Impact IVF Outcomes?
Based on this small study, no differences were found between patients' first and second IVF outcomes. Peak estrogen and progesterone levels were similar, the amount of days needed for ovarian stimulation did not significantly differ between IVF cycles, nor did the number of embryos retrieved differ between IVF cycles. Furthermore, there were no changes in the ratio of "Top-Quality Embryos" (TQEs), defined as 7+ blastomeres on day 3, all blastomeres of equal size, and a < 10% embryo fragmentation rate.
Sperm parameters did not change after vaccination. There was no change in total motile sperm when comparing sperm health parameters before and after vaccination.
The researchers were unable to find any declines in reproductive and/or IVF outcomes before and after vaccination.
Do the mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Impact IVF Embryo Transfer Pregnancy Rates?
Of the 36 couples included in the study, 10 couples proceeded to have an embryo transfer the same cycle, and 3 of them had a positive clinical pregnancy (30% pregnancy rate). This is compared to zero clinical pregnancies in the embryo transfer cycles prior to vaccination. The researchers concluded that there was no change verifiable decrease in pregnancy rates after vaccination.
Does COVID-19 Infection Affect IVF Outcomes?
A prior study completed by the researchers could not find any differences between reproductive outcomes before and after infection for patients infected with COVID-19. However, they did observe a significant decrease in the ratio of TQEs after infection. They hypothesized that the significant increase in systemic inflammation during infection may negatively impact development and quality of follicles.
Does COVID-19 Infection Affect Sperm Parameters?
This is debatable. Some studies fail to find any trace of COVID-19 in the seminal fluid after infection while other studies have found decreased sperm concentration and motility following infection. If you have had COVID-19, speak with your healthcare provider to determine if another seminal fluid analysis is needed or not.
Limitations of this Study:
The sample size was small and future studies will need larger sample sizes to verify results from this study.
Strengths of the Study:
This is the first study of its kind and they were able to evaluate for changes in IVF reproductive outcomes for the same patients before and relatively soon after full vaccination.
Orvieto, R., Noach-Hirsh, M., Segev-Zahav, A., Nahum, R., & Aizer, A. (2021). Does mRNA SARS-CoV-2 vaccine influence patients' performance during IVF-ET cycle? Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, 19(69). https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1186/s12958-021-00757-6
*1. This blog post and video are not intended to give any kind of advice or opinion on COVID-19 vaccines.
2. Notice that there’s still limited research about the impact that COVID-19 might have on Fertility and IVF treatments. This blog post is intended to educate viewers on the existing preliminary results of small studies on the topic, and it does not represent a personal opinion about it. It does not give any medical diagnosis.
3. For more information on COVID-19, and if you have any questions or concerns regarding the Impact of COVID-19 on your health, please contact Canada Public Health or the Public Health representatives in your country.