COVID-19 vaccines don't hurt fertility in either men or women, but an infection could affect a man's fertility rates for up to two months, according to research funded by the National Institutes of Health.
The research, which ended in November, also found that men who tested positive for COVID within 60 days of a partner's menstrual cycle were 18% less likely to cause a pregnancy, in comparison with men who had not tested positive.
But Amelia Wesselink, a co-author for the study and a research assistant professor of epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health, said there isn't any harm in a couple trying to conceive a child after having had COVID, but it takes a little longer.
She added that the findings didn't show any long-term effects from COVID infections for male fertility, or any at all for women.
It's not certain why men's fertility drops in the 60 days after infection, but the NIH noted that a fever, which is common with COVID, can reduce both sperm count and motility.
Dr. Boback Berookhim, director of male fertility and microsurgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, agreed that men who have a high fever during a COVID infection could have a temporary sperm count drop, as "production generally requires normal body temperatures."
Another problem could be caused by inflammation due to the COVID infection, which could lowers a man's sperm quality, also leading to temporary infertility.
The findings came after the researchers collected data from more than 2,100 women, ages 21 to 45, in the U.S. and Canada from December 2020 through November 2021. The subjects were asked to complete online health questionnaires every eight weeks until they became pregnant, or for a year if they did not.
The participants were also asked about their male partners and given the option to invite them to participate in the study, and about 25% agreed to take part. During the study, 73% of the female participant and 74% of the men had gotten at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.
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