With so much information out there about the coronavirus vaccine – from its safety to the side effects – it’s hard to know what to believe.
Peppy’s Director of Fertility Services, Francesca Steyn, separates the facts from fiction about the vaccine and its links to pregnancy, miscarriage and your fertility overall
- The Covid vaccine is proving to be effective in the fight against the pandemic.
- Common side effects of the jab include fatigue, a sore arm and a high temperature, while more severe reactions are rarely reported.
- Despite misleading information which has circulated online for months, there is currently no evidence that it affects your fertility.
It goes without saying that the coronavirus pandemic has changed your life in one way or another.
So, as the offering of the vaccine to millions around the world began, many people were raving about it, while others were apprehensive.
Despite growing research and evidence about its effectiveness, false statements about the vaccine and its connection to harming your fertility are still floating around the internet.
We’ll be digging a bit deeper into incorrect and misleading data about the vaccine and all things fertility, including your menstrual cycle, your reproductive system and your chances of getting pregnant.
What are the ins and outs of the Covid vaccine?
The Covid vaccines that are currently available in the UK include the Oxford/AstraZeneca, the Moderna and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
They protect you against the disease by preventing you from getting severely sick from it. Experts are still looking into how long this immunity lasts for.
As with most vaccines, there are side effects. However, the benefits of being jabbed certainly outweigh the minor (and often short-lasting) downsides.
Common side effects of the Covid vaccine include:
- a high temperature
- headaches and body aches
- a sore arm.
More serious (but rare) side effects are:
- heart inflammation
- blood clotting
- allergic reactions.
Despite conflicting information available online, you can still get the vaccine if you are:
- trying for a baby
We’re busting five of the main myths surrounding the vaccine and fertility below.
The Covid vaccine causes miscarriages
Where did this claim come from? A blogpost previously highlighted that some women reported miscarriages after vaccinations to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) Yellow Card scheme – a scheme which monitors symptoms and health conditions after being vaccinated in the UK.
Using data from the MHRA, the article suggested there was a 3016% increase in the number of women who had experienced miscarriage because of the vaccine between December 2020 and June 2021.
Even though some women did unfortunately miscarry after being vaccinated, it doesn’t mean that the jab was the cause of it.
A separate study actually found that the rate of vaccinated people who miscarried matched the expected rate of the population.
Fran says: ‘There is no evidence to support this and it isn’t something that we are routinely seeing.
‘One in four pregnancies will end in miscarriage. We can’t really prevent it from happening and there is no reason for the miscarriage to occur.
‘The number of people experiencing miscarriage remains the same for those who are and aren’t vaccinated against Covid.’
The Covid vaccine can affect your fertility
Where did this claim come from? Former Pfizer scientist Michael Yeadon’s theory previously insisted the it contains a protein that is similar to another protein responsible for developing the placenta.
Experts have since concluded that your (very clever) immune systems simply wouldn’t confuse the two proteins. They are not as similar as the researcher suggested.
Fran says: ‘This is another false claim and seems to have been targeted at younger people and causing vaccine hesitancy in the under 30’s.
‘There is no evidence or data to suggest that the vaccine can affect our fertility – but there is actually data out there to suggest that contracting COVID could affect your fertility and we have seen lower sperm counts in men who have had COVID.’
Your menstrual cycle can change after having the Covid vaccine
Where did this claim come from? Social media users have picked up on experiencing unusual patterns in their menstrual cycle, including heavier or painful periods, after receiving the vaccine.
At this time, researchers have said that there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that the vaccine causes changes in your menstrual cycle. But, they are noting that there is a ‘plausible’ link.
Fran says: ‘Although some women have reported changes to their cycles after having the vaccine, after evaluation, the MHRA does not support that there is a link between a change in menstrual cycle and the Covid vaccine.
‘They have also explained that people who have reported changes to their cycles, seem to be only short lasting. They don’t appear to have an impact on future fertility or the ability to have children.’
You should be cautious about getting the vaccinated if you’re breastfeeding or trying to conceive (TTC)
Where did this claim come from? When the vaccine was first being developed, there was confusion surrounding who could take it.
Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers were initially advised against getting the vaccine. This guideline has since changed after more testing.
Fran says: ‘In the early days of the vaccine, we were advising patients to get jabbed if they were trying to get pregnant as research into the vaccine was still being carried out.
‘The advice has been changing as more data is available. We are now advising all people who are TTC or pregnant to get vaccinated unless they are advised otherwise by their clinical teams.
‘If you are breastfeeding or expressing then you can still have the Covid vaccine. ‘
‘Breast milk contains antibodies, so there is some data suggesting that antibodies protecting you against Covid could be passed on through your breastmilk. This therefore offers protection against Covid to your baby.’
The Covid vaccine stays in your ovaries
Where did this claim come from? This hypothesis came after rats were given a dose over 1000 times higher than to humans.
The study only found 0.1% of the dose in their ovaries two days after the injection.
Fran says: ‘This is false and is actually a misinterpretation of a study that looked at rats that were given a very high dose (much higher than humans) and whether the vaccine could be found in their ovaries.
‘What they were actually finding is that there was a higher level of fat found in the rat ovary. Not the vaccine. We are not rats – and there is no evidence to suggest that the vaccine has been found in human ovaries.’
Believing myths and misconceptions about the Covid vaccine can be extremely damaging. It can mean the difference between surviving the disease or falling victim to its more serious side effects.
If you are still unsure on whether to get the vaccine, please contact your healthcare professional for more information.