CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Misinformation about COVID-19 vaccine effects on all aspects of reproduction has spread across social media platforms. That’s causing many women who want to have children to have doubts about getting vaccinated and whether it’s safe or not.
Yet, there’s no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, affect pregnancy or fertility, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, despite myths suggesting otherwise.
Medical experts say there’s no biological reason the shots would affect fertility.
“This is something I’ve been addressing with my patients all the time. So many of my patients are still afraid to get vaccinated, and I tell them let’s go with the science,” Dr. Nicole Williams, a gynecologist affiliated with Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, told NewsNation. “According to the American College of OBGYNs and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, there is no data to date that exists that can affect fertility.”
Do the COVID-19 vaccines affect my chances of pregnancy?
Meanwhile, real-world evidence offers more assurance for anyone worried about their chances of conceiving: In Pfizer’s study, a similar number of women became pregnant in the group given the vaccine as in the group given dummy shots.
The CDC and obstetrician groups also updated their recommendations in early August, strengthening advice that pregnant women, who have a higher risk of severe illness if infected with the coronavirus, should get vaccinated.
Research shows pregnant women who get the virus are more likely to be admitted to intensive care, receive invasive ventilation, and die than their nonpregnant peers.
The CDC also followed tens of thousands of pregnant women who got the vaccines and found they had comparable pregnancy outcomes to pregnant women before the pandemic.
The CDC also urged breastfeeding women to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Can COVID-19 vaccines affect my period?
It’s not known, but researchers are starting to study the issue.
Researchers are starting to study anecdotal reports of short-term changes to periods after the vaccine, but there’s no indication so far that the shots put fertility at risk.
“Now I’ve had some anecdotal evidence, just a few of my patients coming in that said that their period may have been early or late or may have changed somehow,” Williams said. “But I tell them this if your period is early or late guess what, generally after a couple cycles, it goes back to normal. And guess what, COVID can kill you; having a late period can’t.”
Vaccines are designed to activate your immune system, and some experts have wondered if that could temporarily disrupt menstrual cycles.
So far, reports of irregular bleeding have been anecdotal. And it’s hard to draw any links to the vaccines since changes could result from other factors, including stress, diet and exercise habits. There’s also a lack of data tracking changes to menstrual cycles after vaccines in general.
If scientists eventually find a link between the vaccine and short-term changes in bleeding, experts say that would be no reason to avoid getting vaccinated.
“The benefits of taking the vaccine certainly way outweigh putting up with one heavy period, if indeed they’re related,” said Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a gynecologist and a professor at the Yale University School of Medicine.
Researchers recently launched a survey to begin gathering data. The findings won’t determine whether there’s a relationship between COVID-19 vaccines and menstrual changes, but could help form the basis for further research, said Katharine Lee, one of the researchers, who is based at Washington University in St. Louis
So whether you are thinking about having a baby, trying to conceive, or are concerned about your fertility, experts recommend that you don’t delay vaccination.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.