Lots of conflicting information has been flying around about Covid vaccines, fertility and pregnancy. The UK guidance has changed at least twice for pregnant women and those thinking about pregnancy. Furthermore, a lot of misinformation has been circulating on social media about the effects of Covid vaccines on fertility.
The Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists (ARCS) and British Fertility Society (BFS) have produced guidance throughout the pandemic and released this helpful FAQ document. We have reproduced the guidance below for easy reference.
Covid-19 vaccines and fertility
The British Fertility Society and Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists have created this document in response to questions that patients have been asking about Covid-19 vaccines and fertility. The availability of safe and effective vaccines against Covid-19 offers a way for many of our patients to protect themselves against this disease, and access fertility treatment safely.
These FAQs were created on 8th February 2021 and revised on 26 July 2021 They are correct at the time of publication. Please be aware that the speed of scientific research in this area is very rapid. Hence, we advise any concerned person to always discuss their individual situation with their health care provider.
Should people of reproductive age receive a Covid-19 vaccine?
People of reproductive age are advised to have the vaccine when they receive their invitation for vaccination. This includes those who are trying to have a baby as well as those who are thinking about having a baby, whether that is in the near future or in a few years’ time.
Can any of the Covid-19 vaccines affect fertility?
There is absolutely no evidence, and no theoretical reason, that any of the vaccines can affect the fertility of women or men. This includes whether you are trying on your own or having fertility treatment.
Can I have a Covid-19 vaccine during my fertility treatment (IVF, Frozen Embryo Transfer, Egg Freezing, Ovulation Induction, Intra-Uterine Insemination, using donated gametes or not)?
You may wish to consider the timing of having a Covid-19 vaccine during your fertility treatment, taking into account that some people may get side effects in the few days after vaccination that they do not want to have during treatment. These include for example, tenderness at the injection site, fever, headache, muscle ache or feeling tired. It may be sensible to separate the date of vaccination by a few days from some treatment procedures (for example, egg collection in IVF), so that any symptoms, such as fever, might be attributed correctly to the vaccine or the treatment procedure. Your medical team will be able to advise you about the best time for your situation.
Should I delay my fertility treatment until after I have had the Covid-19 vaccine?
The only reason to consider delaying fertility treatment until after you have been vaccinated would be if you wanted to be protected against Covid-19 before you were pregnant. The chance of successful treatment is unlikely to be affected by a short delay, for example of up to 6 months, particularly if you are 37 years of age or younger. However, delays of several months may affect your chance of success once you are over 37 and especially if you are 40 years of age or older.
How soon after having a Covid-19 vaccine can I start my fertility treatment?
Immediately – you do not need to delay your fertility treatment, unless you wish to have your second dose before pregnancy (see above).
I had a positive pregnancy test today. Can I still have a Covid-19 vaccine?
Yes, you can have the vaccine in pregnancy. In the UK, pregnant women are advised to have the Covid-19 vaccine, preferably the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines. There is no reason to believe that any of the Covid-19 vaccines would be harmful in pregnancy. None of the vaccines contain live virus and so there is no risk that the pregnant woman or her baby could get Covid-19 from the vaccine. No safety concerns have been found in research studies that have followed up more than 130,000 pregnant women after mRNA Covid-19 vaccination in the USA and Scotland
For further information on vaccination in pregnancy, see the information produced by the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists. The health care professional looking after you in pregnancy will be able to advise you taking into account your individual risk.
I am donating my eggs/sperm for the use of others. Can I still have a Covid-19 vaccine?
Covid-19 vaccines do not contain any virus and so you cannot pass on Covid-19 by receiving the vaccine. The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority state that you must allow at least 7 days from the most recent vaccination prior to donating eggs or sperm. Ovarian stimulation for egg donors can start once 7 days have passed.If the donor feels unwell after the vaccination, they must not donate for 7 days after their symptoms have got better. Further informations at the HFEA website.
I have had recurrent miscarriages and am now trying to get pregnant again. Should I postpone having a Covid-19 vaccine?
There is no reason to postpone having your Covid-19 vaccine as it will not affect your risk of having a miscarriage.
This FAQ document represents the views of ARCS/BFS, which were reached after careful consideration of the scientific evidence available at the time of preparation. In the absence of scientific evidence on certain aspects, a consensus between the Executive teams and other members has been obtained.
ARCS/BFS are not liable for damages related to the use of the information contained herein. We cannot guarantee correctness, completeness or accuracy of the guidance in every respect.
Please be aware that the evidence and advice for COVID-19 vaccines for those trying to achieve a pregnancy or those who are pregnant already is rapidly developing and the latest data or best practice may not yet be incorporated into the current version of this document. ARCS and BFS recommend that patients always seek the advice of their local centre if they have any concerns.
The ARCS/BFS COVID working group:
Raj Mathur & Jason Kasraie (co-chairs), Gwenda Burns, Alison Campbell, Debbie Evans, Nicholas Macklon, Jane Stewart