Can those undergoing fertility treatment have the Covid-19 vaccine?

15 October 2021

We have been asked by readers on WhatsApp whether the Covid-19 vaccines are recommended during fertility treatment. 

The British Fertility Society (BFS) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG)—which is the association for medical professionals working in pregnancy, childbirth and women's reproductive and sexual health —both say yes, you can have the Covid-19 vaccines during IVF treatment.

The BFS says you can start fertility treatment “immediately” after vaccination. However it does say you may wish to consider the timing of vaccination during fertility treatment, as some people get side effects in the few days afterwards that they do not want to have during treatment (for example, tenderness at the injection site, fever, headache, muscle ache or feeling tired). The BFS adds that “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”.

The BFS also says your medical team will be able to advise you about the best time for your situation.

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Do the vaccines affect fertility?

The RCOG says there is “no evidence” to suggest that the Covid-19 vaccines affect fertility. Similar statements have been issued by the British Fertility Association, the NHS and Public Health England (now the UK Health Security Agency). 

The RCOG also states that there is no biologically plausible mechanism by which the vaccine would cause fertility problems. 

We have written more about fertility and the Covid-19 vaccines previously.

What about period disturbances?

Following the vaccine roll out, there has been publicity around reports of menstrual disturbances (period problems). This has caused alarm in its own right, but has also led to concerns about fertility. We have also written more about this previously

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) says that as of 14 October 2021, there have been 31,090 Yellow Card reports relating to various menstrual disorders via its Yellow Card Reporting System (a reporting system which allows members of the public and health professionals to report suspected reactions to vaccinations around the time they take place). For context, there had been approximately 48.8 million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered to women in the UK up to 6 October 2021. 

The Yellow Card reports have been reviewed by the MHRA and by independent experts in the Commission on Human Medicines’ Covid-19 Vaccines Benefit Risk Expert Working Group and the Medicines for Women’s Health Expert Advisory Group. Following this, the MHRA said: “The rigorous evaluation completed to date does not support a link between changes to menstrual periods and related symptoms and Covid-19 vaccines.” It also says that the number of reports of menstrual disorders and vaginal bleeding is low in relation to both the number of people who have received Covid-19 vaccines to date and how common menstrual disorders are generally.  

The MHRA adds that the menstrual changes reported are mostly transient in nature and “there is no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 vaccines will affect fertility and your ability to have children”.

Some have called for more research around a possible link though, and reports continue to be closely reviewed by the MHRA.

The information included in this article contains the latest evidence and official guidance available at the time it was written. This is not a substitute for medical advice. If you require specific medical advice please consult your GP or midwife.

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