Can COVID-19 vaccines affect male fertility?

September 28, 2021

This article has not been updated recently

Nicki Minaj, a famous Trinidadian-born rapper, singer, and songwriter, recently made global headlines after she posted worrying comments about the COVID-19 vaccine on Twitter. 

In a tweet that was quickly picked up by news outlets, Minajs tells the story of her cousin’s friend in Trinidad, who she implied had been made impotent after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

She tweeted “My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding.” Tweet here.

While the claims weren’t immediately refuted by the health authorities in Trinidad, the health minister Terrence Deyalsingh, later dismissed them, saying they had been busy investigating the claim before concluding the claims of swollen testicles were baseless.

The idea that COVID-19 vaccines might affect male fertility and cause erectile dysfunction is worrying on many levels, but mainly because misinformation like this, spread by such a prominent celebrity, can do lots of harm.

Can the COVID-19 vaccine make men impotent?

To help us get to the bottom of this misinformation we spoke to Emma Duncan, Professor of Clinical Endocrinology, King’s College London, about whether or not men should be worried about COVID-19 vaccines and fertility. 

“The question of male fertility and COVID-19 vaccines has been studied for mRNA vaccines; and there is no evidence that sperm counts or motility (sperm capability to move/ swim) or male fertility are affected by vaccination. There have been no concerns raised about AstraZeneca to date either.
However, what is important is that there is evidence that men who are recovering from moderately severe COVID-19 have reduced sperm quality and counts 1-2 months after their illness, compared with men who have mild or asymptomatic infection – though in the study that looked at this the values were still in the normal range and may recover further with time.
The best advice for men who are planning a family is to get vaccinated – for their own sake and for the sake of their partner – as COVID-19 in pregnancy – particularly late in pregnancy – is associated with a higher chance of adverse outcomes for both the mother and the baby.  There is no evidence that vaccination affects fertility of either men or women.”

So as Professor Duncan points out, when it comes to COVID-19 and male fertility, the evidence suggests that having COVID is worse for fertility than any potential side effects from the vaccine. 

If you or your friends and family are still worried about getting a COVID-19 vaccine and are looking for more information here are a list of blogs we have written that you might find helpful:

With COVID cases still high and showing no signs of dramatic decline, it’s important to keep looking at how well our current vaccines are working. 

If and when you’ve had a COVID-19 vaccine, be sure to log it in the ZOE COVID Study app to help us understand the impact and effectiveness of vaccination. 

Stay safe and keep logging.


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