ST. LOUIS — A sore arm, headache, fever, chills: the COVID-19 vaccines can come with some very normal, short-term side effects. Now people are asking questions about their potential impact on fertility.
Dr. Kenen Omurtag, a Washington University fertility specialist, said he's not sure of any possible basis for these concerns.
"For patients who are trying to conceive, the guidance is to go ahead and get the vaccine,” he said.
However, he said he has gotten many questions from patients who are concerned about a vaccine’s impact on their ability to start or grow their family.
“The general consensus is that it is safe, it is right for you. But we recognize that we're all human beings. We all have our own anxieties. We all have our own experiences,” he said. “So it's important for us as physicians to also explore those anxieties with patients and provide some degree of empathy for their anxiety and also be able to provide answers to their questions and explore what their questions are.”
To answer the most common questions, he cites the latest research, showing vaccinated parents are no more likely to have a miscarriage than unvaccinated parents, and that COVID-19 vaccines do not impact sperm count, fertility treatment or a woman's ability to get pregnant.
“Now we have studies demonstrating in pregnant women what the outcomes are. So in just four months, we've learned a lot about our initial thought, which was this is probably safe. Now we have more and more data. And with more and more time, we're going to have even more data to clarify the picture even further.”
He said any potential side effects at this point outweigh the danger that can come with contracting the virus.
“If you get exposed to COVID while you're pregnant, you're at increased risk of ending up in the ICU, needing to be ventilated and recent data has suggested you're at increased risk of dying. I mean, pregnancy is a high-risk state just in and of itself,” he said. “So if there's something you can do to protect yourself, COVID vaccination is that thing.”
Dr. Omurtag recommends bringing any of your questions to your doctor to determine the best course of action and make a plan to protect you and your baby from COVID-19.