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December 1, 2021

Do COVID vaccines affect male fertility?

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Vaccines do have side effects, but there is no established link between COVID vaccines and male fertility. Photo www.surgmedia.com/infertility-causes

Social-media theories don’t hold firm.

Vaccines do have side effects, but there are some social-media users peddling myths that COVID-19 vaccines cause male infertility and sexual dysfunction.

This is not the case – there is no established link between COVID vaccines and male fertility, though falling ill with COVID-19 may pose a risk of sexual dysfunction.

Do vaccines cause infertility in males?

Currently there is no evidence that sperm count, semen volume and sperm motility are negatively affected by a vaccine. In fact, there is no evidence that any vaccine at all causes infertility in either males or females.

One preprint study, submitted in May 2021, found no difference in sperm characteristics of 43 men before and after vaccination with Pfizer. The volunteers came from a pool of men receiving IVF services, and 32 per cent of the participants already had ineffective sperm.

Another study published in JAMA quantified sperm volume of 45 men before and after two doses of an mRNA vaccine (either Pfizer or Moderna) and saw no decrease in sperm count 70 days – the life cycle of a sperm – following the second dose. In fact, it found that semen volume, sperm count and sperm motility all significantly increased.

Eight of the men had low sperm count prior to vaccination, but this increased to normal levels after.

‘Because the vaccines contain mRNA and not the live virus, it is unlikely that the vaccine would affect sperm parameters,’ the authors point out in the paper.

In 2017, about seven in 1000 men of reproductive age were affected by male infertility. With 2.8 billion people fully vaccinated globally, we would expect to see a significant and large increase in reported male infertility in 2021 – except we haven’t seen this reported.

The International Federation of Fertility Societies, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the British Fertility Society and the Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists have all released statements that there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility.

There were no Therapeutic Goods Administration reports of infertility or fertility issues following the administration of 28.7 million vaccine doses in Australia, but there were six mentions of penile discomfort. There was no established link, however, between the vaccine and the discomfort.

Regardless, public concern does remind us that research about COVID-19, vaccines and male fertility is crucial.

Why do people claim there is a link between vaccines and infertility?

The nature of vaccine hesitancy is complex. Sometimes, rumours can circulate because a question was asked that became misconstrued over time as a statement.

Other times, a fact may be taken out of context.

The Society for Male Reproduction and Urology (SMRU) and the Society for the Study of Male Reproduction (SSMR) issued a joint statement with this example: ‘It should be noted that about 16 per cent of men in the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial experienced fever after the second dose. Fevers can cause temporary declines in sperm production. Thus, if a man experiences fever as the result of the COVID-19 vaccine, he may experience a temporary decline in sperm production, but that would be similar to or less than if the individual experienced fever from developing COVID-19 or for other reasons.’

Since the life cycle of a sperm is only 70 days, future sperm production is unlikely to be affected by a fever.

In another instance, a circulating video involving Dr Roger Hodkinson stated that ACE2 receptor ‘is present in the testes’ and ‘it’s actually on the cells that produce spermatozoa’. The video was accompanied by rhetoric claiming that this showed vaccines were unsafe.

However, many facts were omitted.

First of all, this information was based on a paper published in Biology of Reproduction. In the study, researchers found that the ACE2 receptor, which is found on the cell membrane of some organs, was high in the testes and interacted with SARS-CoV-2. Because of this, the researchers suggested there should be further research into the association between male reproductive health and male COVID patients.

The key here is that this study was not about vaccines – it was about the coronavirus itself.

The researchers told FactCheck that the paper ‘is a hypothetical article about the potential effect of SARS-CoV-2 infection on male reproductive health, not about the impact of COVID-19 vaccine on male reproductive health’.

Ironically, the paper didn’t prove that SARS-CoV-2 influenced male fertility, either.

But it did prompt further research.

Does COVID cause infertility?

There isn’t an established link between COVID-19 and sperm count, but there is evidence that the virus is present in the testes and penis.

An autopsy of six men who died of COVID showed that three of them had a lower sperm count than expected, although this is a small sample and may not represent all survivors.

Likewise, the biopsy of another patient who recovered from COVID showed that the virus was still present in the testes three months later.

The same team also found that coronavirus affected the penis, with the virus still present in the penile tissue of two men seven and nine months after their diagnosis. Both men had developed erectile dysfunction, potentially because the infection reduced blood flow.

This trend is consistent with studies on the 2006 SARS outbreak, which is a close cousin of COVID.

A meta-analysis published in March suggested that there hadn’t been enough time to assess the long-term effects of COVID-19 on sperm count and quality, but there is definite evidence of an effect on testes and penile tissue, including inflammation and testicular discomfort in up to 19 per cent of male patients.

While the effect of COVID-19 on sperm count is inconclusive at this stage, it is still highly unlikely that COVID vaccines can cause male infertility.


This article was originally published on Cosmos Magazine and was written by Deborah Devis. Deborah Devis is a science journalist at Cosmos. She has a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science (Honours) in biology and philosophy from the University of Sydney, and a PhD in plant molecular genetics from the University of Adelaide.

Published by The Echo in conjunction with Cosmos Magazine.


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16 COMMENTS

  1. Some of these would be, if they could be Vaccine conspiracy theorists”..need to pull their head out of their lower bowel entrance.
    Really?. these fools believe that the Vaccine lowers male fertility.
    Try looking at smoking, alcohol, stress and environmental factors, work factors..then there is age as well as human biological issues..like being born with a lower sperm count.
    Idiots…

  2. What else do antivaxxers imagine vaccines do? These articles have been great to read but it’s a shame that the people who the articles should be read by actually won’t or just ignore the facts and research by being hoodwinked by conspiracy theories and just plain lies.

  3. I heard the sperm-reduction theory recently from an uneducated bogan banging on in Mullum. He augmented his nonsense by quoting Mohammed and claimed there were hadiths (Islamic wisdoms) that could guide him through avoiding COVID while remaining unvaxed.

    When I put it to him that Mohammed had no science degree, the fellow claimed that Mohammed’s guidance was as relevant as – AND OLDER THAN – that of Jesus. I asked him when Mohammed lived and when he founded Islam. The eejit thought those were older than Christianity, ffs!

    Some folks’ iggerance knows no bounds.

  4. I believe all vaccines are simply a poor medical treatment and weaken your immune system! I have no opinion on male fertility, I do believe though that vaccinating children is nothing short of child abuse!

    • Do you know about the children who used to die in large numbers from diseases like diphtheria and whooping cough and the numbers killed or maimed by polio? Some are just now finding post polio syndrome affecting their lives.

      Is giving kids a much better chance of reaching adulthood, child abuse?

  5. Emergency Rooms across America being swamped by post-vaccine patients suffering organ failure
    Current estimates show that people who have taken mRNA-based covid vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) lose about 5 percent of their innate immune function each week. After about 20 weeks, they are characterized as “AIDS patients” who have little to no functioning immunity against in-the-wild pathogens such as common colds and flu viruses.
    Beyond merely theoretical, this phenomenon is now being confirmed by the swamping of US hospital emergency rooms with post-vaccine patients who are exhibiting extreme levels of sickness against common health insults. “ERs are now swamped with seriously ill patients — but many don’t even have COVID,” reported NPR.org yesterday.
    “Months of treatment delays have exacerbated chronic conditions and worsened symptoms. Doctors and nurses say the severity of illness ranges widely and includes abdominal pain, respiratory problems, blood clots, heart conditions and suicide attempts, among others.
    These are all vaccine side effects, yet no one in the media will dare report that truth.
    The upshot is that emergency rooms are being overrun with vaccine injured patients… and it’s not even November yet. Imagine what the scene looks like in mid-January.

    • Did you read this npr report you quote? If not I suggest you do and I’d suggest anyone else alarmed by this post to do so as well

      Google: “ ERs are now swamped with seriously ill patients — but many don’t even have COVID,” reported NPR.org “ and you will find it.

      At no point does it attribute the problems in the ED at Lansing, Michigan to mRNA vaccines. The alarming array of symptoms you have quoted are in patients who present with chronic conditions that have worsened due to an overwhelmed health system and patients reluctant to go to hospital last year through fear of catching Covid 19. All this points to what advocates of the Covid 19 vaccines have been saying: risking serious illness through Covid 19 has implications for an individual, it also has devastating effects on health systems and their capacity to adequately offer health care for the full range of needs.

      I’d be interested to know if any other sources for your claims are equally manipulated or reliable. Given that the vaccination program in the US started in Dec 2020, the last paragraph doesn’t make a lot of sense.

      This is outrageous! Have you created this little diatribe or is it largely lifted from a social media post. Let people make their own decisions about vaccination based on reliable qualified information and accept that some will have it. Forget about the personal war to discredit vaccination. You are not qualified and could be doing huge damage.

  6. The major cause of male infertility in Australia is vasectomy. The article states:
    “There were no Therapeutic Goods Administration reports of infertility or fertility issues following the administration of 28.7 million vaccine doses in Australia.”
    End of story.

  7. So here we go, regardless of all the assurances:
    19% of Males have definite evidence of an effect on testes and penile tissue, including inflammation and testicular discomfort
    and more importantly “A meta-analysis published in March suggested that there hadn’t been enough time to assess the long-term effects of COVID-19 on sperm count and quality”

    Lets be grown up and accept this is still officially a drug trial and the long term effects are unknown. Why are we gambling with young men’s fertility and health when alternative hazard stat for adults under 40 is 0.06%.. Seems like a disproportionate risk ratio.. 19% + Unknown long term effects VS 0.06% and strong immunity

  8. Joseph the 19% showing “evidence of an effect on testes and penile tissue, including inflammation and testicular discomfort” was from being infected from Covid 19, not a vaccine. Likewise the “meta-analysis published in March [suggesting] that there hadn’t been enough time to assess the long-term effects of COVID-19 on sperm count and quality” is looking at the DISEASE not the VACCINE.

    There is a difference. Read it again carefully including what is actually written about any links between vaccination and sperm count.

    There seems no end to the capacity of those who have fixed views about vaccination, to read what they want into any material before them.

      • Thanks Phil. I do intend to try to get a life one day.

        I don’t like to think of my fellow community members as morons. I think vulnerability to cults seems to be very much part of the human condition, whether the attraction is the feeling of being one of a special chosen few, community as part of a tribe, a quest for simple answers to complex questions or the promise of shelter from uncertainty in a world of chaos and chance.

        The cult surrounding Covid has a range of manifestations but it has clear cult-like features – a special language and catechism, talismans (think of the holy grail status given to the one true avenue of defence, ivermectin) fear and demonising of the other. Alarmingly it seems to be affecting people’s comprehension of the material they are reading so that an entirely counter view is deduced.

        The cult has adapted and shape-shifted over time, as needed, from:
        the virus doesn’t exist, to
        it does exist but best to let it rip because it’s not really a worry, to
        yes it exists but vaccines are spreading it, and
        YouTube gurus know better than a cabal of professors how to treat it.

        Falling into the clutches of a cult needn’t be related to IQ. I’ve tended to think this is rather unfortunate for those affected but also for those who may read only this line of thinking and, through unchallenged repetition, accept it as the norm. With a deadly disease it’s a serious matter with very serious consequences.

  9. Yes PLEASE , there has to be a positive from Covid (Delta) virus re male infertility. Just ONE glimmer of hope for the planet is all I ask. Hello! our planet is sinking under our excessive population weight (I mean that in terms of numbers ) & still some people are concerned about this ?? The best thing that could possibly happen for our Beloved Mother Earth is a huge human primate reduction ASAP.

  10. I agree that declining population growth could be a positive effect of COVID . Other potential benefits would be the end of the massive Cruise ship Industry , one of the most damaging arms of overtourism . There could well be other benefits to come from all this pain .

  11. I’ve just finished reading ‘Dying OF Covid Or With It’ – Sydney Morning Herald 19 hrs ago.
    ‘The Institution Of Forensic Medicine’ takes on ‘conspiracy theorists’ using Pathologists
    to cross check the deaths via all ex-rays, scans , MRIs etc. One million dollars will find
    the answers.

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