Fertility Problems In Men After COVID-19 Infections
And whether vaccines will cause the same problems
An interesting study from Belgium, on male fertility problems after COVID-19, has just been made available and you can read it in full here. The implications for fertility problems after natural infection are clear and I’ll comment on it below but I also wanted to discuss whether vaccinations will produce similar results.
A disclaimer before I begin - None of what I write is anti-vaxx and the image used above is me being facetious. I am exclusively focusing on COVID-19 vaccines and presenting any interesting and relevant studies and documents I find for everyone to discuss. Nobody knows everything, so it is important to openly debate findings, with the hope that new inputs from other contributors will make things clearer and hopefully alleviate any worries. It is of particular importance that this isn’t an echo chamber, so I encourage everybody to share these posts with peers who have opposing views. Everybody should weigh up the risks and benefits of whether to have a COVID-19 vaccine depending on their own circumstances (age, health etc), discuss with as many people as possible to get a balanced opinion but ultimately the final decision should be down to you and you alone.
The second disclaimer is that this study has not been peer reviewed although it was submitted in July of this year, accepted in October and now made available, so clearly isn’t nonsense.
So, back to the study. It was designed to look at the contagiousness of sperm and its influence on fertility after recovery from COVID-19 infection. The study took place between the first and second waves of infection in Europe and so, because this was earlier in the year, none of the men were vaccinated.
The good news is that the study found semen is not infectious with SARS-CoV-2 at 1 week or more after COVID-19 infection. None of the samples contained viral RNA.
The not-so-good news is that the study found profound reductions in sperm concentration, the number of spermatozoa produced, and both total and progressive motility of the spermatozoa after COVID-19 infection. To put it simply, DNA damaged sperm and reduced fertility. This was most severe during the first month after COVID-19 infection and almost back to normal after 2/3 months.
At first, the authors’ hypothesized that the temporary sperm abnormalities could be due to fever or severity of other symptoms connected with COVID-19 disease. Studies of other viral infections, including flu, show links between severity of fever and sperm motility. However, with COVID-19, this was not the case.
What they did find was a strong correlation between titres of specific anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies against the spike protein and the spike-1-receptor-region-domain antigens of the virus with reduced sperm function. They conclude that this indicates an immunologic rather than a fever-induced causality of the temporary sperm dysfunction.
As I mentioned above, all the men were unvaccinated and were naturally infected, so the press is reporting on this as a further reason to get vaccinated and boosted. My concern, however, is that if the reduced fertility is caused by an immunological response (rather than the virus itself), then surely the same thing will happen after being vaccinated? The body still produces the same antibodies against the spike protein doesn’t it (and often in higher doses)? The same antibodies which they report is the reason for the reduction in fertility.
Fertility returned to near normal after 2/3 months, so I have no reason to think the same recovery would not happen after vaccination and a few months of reduced fertility vs hospitalisation or death may be considered worth it. However, what if the same thing happens every time you are boosted (some people have had 3 doses within a year already), then what happens? Even if fertility returns to normal after 2/3 months each time, with no long lasting effects, this will still have a big knock on impact on number of births in countries with heavily vaccinated populations.
It’s too early to see any signs of this in the real world yet because most young people have not been vaccinated for more than 9 months. However, it won’t take long and it would be interesting to see any data or hear, anecdotally, if there is a reduction in women booking in for first trimester appointments etc. One thing is certain, trials should have been conducted to look into these things before mass vaccination began.
If anyone with more specialty in this field can show me that I have completely got the wrong end of the stick then I am very happy to take this article down.