A new study has looked into the effects of COVID-19 vaccination on fertility outcomes during IVF. The conclusion: it’s extremely good news.
“The study found no significant differences in response to ovarian stimulation, egg quality, embryo development, or pregnancy outcomes between the vaccinated compared to unvaccinated patients,” said Devora A. Aharon, MD, first author of the study, in a statement.
“Our findings that vaccination had no impact on these outcomes should be reassuring to those who are trying to conceive or are in early pregnancy.”
The paper, which she noted is “one of the largest studies to review fertility and IVF cycle outcomes in patients who received COVID-19 vaccinations,” has been published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
IVF is one of the more high-tech methods to help people have babies. It involves suppressing the menstrual cycle, then stimulating the ovaries to produce lots of eggs – much more than usual. These eggs are then collected and fertilized outside of the body, creating embryos that are then transferred back to the womb.
Sometimes, those embryos can be frozen in case the parents suffer complications or want to try for a sibling later on – amazingly, these embryos can be stored in this frozen state for more than half a century.
The new study followed patients at two different stages of the process: ovarian stimulation, and frozen-thawed embryo transfer. The researchers found that vaccinated patients undergoing ovarian stimulation had similar rates of eggs retrieved and fertilized – plus the same proportion of healthy embryos – as unvaccinated patients.
Similarly, those patients who were receiving thawed embryos had the same levels of pregnancy successes and losses regardless of vaccination status.
“By leveraging science and big data, we can help reassure patients of reproductive age and enable them to make the best decisions for themselves,” said senior author Alan B. Copperman, MD.
“It will give people comfort to know that the COVID-19 vaccine does not affect their reproductive potential.”
There have already been quite a few studies investigating the safety of COVID-19 vaccines within pregnancy – a subject that has been dogged by misinformation and rumor since the early days of the vaccine rollouts.
By November, the world had seriously solid evidence that vaccines were safe for pregnant people and their unborn offspring, while more recent studies have noted the “devastating” potential consequences of skipping vaccines while pregnant.
Nevertheless, fears surrounding pregnancy and fertility continued to be cited as a common reason for vaccine hesitancy. Just last week, a study was published reconfirming that the vaccines don’t affect fertility (though ironically, getting COVID-19 might), and people trying to get pregnant after vaccination can expect a timeline pretty similar to what they’d have experienced before the pandemic.
However, for people who need to go through fertility treatment, even non-pandemic times are extra stressful. With the new study reaffirming that vaccination has no link to chances of either conceiving or experiencing complications in pregnancy, the researchers hope to allay some of those fears.
“Vaccination with covid mRNA vaccines doesn’t affect the success rates obtained from assisted reproductive technology treatments,” study author Erkan Buyuk, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist, told Gizmodo.
“[Patients] should not hold their vaccinations for fear of affecting their success from these treatments or for fear of affecting their pregnancy.”