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COVID-19 Vaccines and Fertility

Black and white photo of Paige, a white woman with shoulder length hair, and her husband, a white man with cropped hair and a beard. Paige is holding her husbands arm on his right side and smiling wide as she looks at him. He is smiling looking toward her, with only his profile visible.

Without a vaccine, COVID-19 can make you very sick and even cause death, especially in people with disabilities. COVID-19 vaccines save lives and protect our communities. 

There are a lot of rumors about COVID-19 vaccines that can seem very scary. Some of these rumors include both true facts and false myths about pregnancy and fertility. Pregnancy and fertility can be difficult topics for people with disabilities, but we are here to help you feel confident about getting your vaccine and answer your questions about vaccination and fertility.

Today we are sharing proven facts and a personal story about vaccines and pregnancy. We interviewed Able SC staff person, Paige, about her experience with vaccines and her pregnancy. She told us, “I chose to get vaccinated to protect myself, my family, and my work community.  My sister works in the addiction recovery community and it’s been proven that folks in recovery  are also at  high risk, so I wanted to help her protect her peers as well.”

Can COVID-19 vaccines mess up my menstrual cycle?

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can temporarily make someone’s menstrual cycle longer by about 1 day. This means if your cycle is usually around 28 days long, it could be 29 days long after getting vaccination. However, the research on this topic is not significant because a lot of people’s cycles change for other reasons, such as stress.

Paige shared, “I did experience some disruption to my period, but I was also dealing with an extremely stressful family event at the time.  So, I’m not completely sure if the disruptions were directly related to the vaccine or to that event.”

People who menstruate may also see changes in the time between cycles and heavier bleeding than usual. These changes are temporary. There is no evidence to show that vaccines impact fertility. If you are concerned about your menstrual cycle, talk to your doctor.

Can COVID-19 vaccines cause breast lumps? 

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can possibly cause the lymph nodes in your underarm area to swell, creating a lump. This swelling would be on the same side as where you received your shot. A lymph node is a part of your immune system. It is normal for a lymph node to swell after receiving many kinds of vaccines, not just the COVID-19 vaccine. It is your body’s immune response and the swelling is temporary. A swollen lymph node does not mean that the vaccine gave you cancer. If your swollen lymph node is not getting smaller or softer after three to four weeks, you should reach out to your doctor. You should make sure to schedule any mammograms for after three or four weeks from your vaccination so that the swollen lymph node has a chance to return to normal.

Paige told us that she did not experience any swollen lymph node lumps after her vaccination.

If you are concerned about or are experiencing one or more breast lumps, talk to your doctor.

Can the vaccine make me unable to have children?

No. There is currently no evidence that any COVID-19 vaccine causes problems with fertility.

Many people have become pregnant after getting their COVID-19 vaccine, including people with disabilities. Studies have shown that vaccination of partners of any sex, gender, or disability status did not impact the chances of getting pregnant. Research has also shown that there is no increase in risk of miscarriage due to COVID-19 vaccination.

There is no research that shows that sperm is changed or harmed in any way by vaccines. In fact, there is evidence that being sick with COVID-19 can negatively impact sperm production. If you are worried about your fertility, you can better protect yourself by getting your COVID-19 vaccine.

Paige told us,  “For me, the myths about the vaccine and infertility didn’t cause me to worry about getting my shot.  I had a friend who’d gotten pregnant while having COVID, and while she had a healthy baby, labor was hard for her.  I’d also heard stories of other women who had the same struggles.  So, for me, I knew that getting the vaccine was extremely important.”

Paige also shared that her partner also got vaccinated.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine affect my baby before and after birth?

For people with and without disabilities, getting your COVID-19 vaccine will help your baby before and after they are born. Studies show that getting your vaccine does not cause preterm or early birth, or other complications. Getting sick with COVID-19  can increase your risk of preterm birth and other complications. Getting your vaccine can help protect you and your baby.

When you get an mRNA vaccine (like Pfizer or Moderna), your body makes antibodies to protect against COVID-19. Pregnant people can pass these good antibodies to their babies and protect them from COVID-19. One study shows that your baby is more likely to have these good antibodies after they are born if you were vaccinated than if you got COVID-19 while pregnant. 

If you are pregnant and know that your baby will be born with a disability, it is still recommended that you get your COVID-19 vaccine to protect yourself and your baby. After birth, your baby with disabilities is at higher risk of sickness from COVID-19 than babies without disabilities. The good antibodies from your vaccination can protect your baby after birth. 

Should I get my COVID-19 vaccine if I am breastfeeding/chestfeeding?

Yes. Doctors and scientists recommend that people who are breastfeeding or chestfeeding get their COVID-19 vaccine. This includes people who are breastfeeding or chestfeeding children with disabilities. They studied the effects if COVID-19 vaccines and also other similar vaccines on breastmilk. 

Evidence shows that you can pass the good antibodies to your baby through breastmilk. Good antibodies would protect your baby from COVID-19. Getting vaccinated would protect not only you but also your baby from getting COVID-19. 

Why should pregnant people get vaccinated against COVID-19 and get their booster shot?

If you are pregnant or were recently pregnant, you are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19. Pregnant peoples’ bodies go through many changes that can make it easier for them to get sick. If you also have a disability, your risk of getting very sick and dying from COVID-19 is even greater.

Pregnant people are more likely to have complications in their pregnancy due to COVID-19. Pregnant people are also more likely to go to the hospital with a severe case of COVID-19. Pregnant people with disabilities’ risk of complications and having to go to the hospital because of COVID-19 sickness is even greater. Getting your COVID-19 vaccine can help protect you from getting very sick or even dying from COVID-19. 

Scientists have found that vaccines help protect pregnant people and the people around them. The CDC recommends that pregnant people, including pregnant people with disabilities, get their vaccine and booster shot.

Paige shared with us that she was “one hundred percent” confident about getting her vaccine and booster. However, if you are worried about getting your COVID-19 vaccine, talk to your doctor.

If you need help scheduling your vaccine appointment, you can call the Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046. 

Footer with “SC Disability Vaccine Access Network” and partner logos below. From left to right: Able SC, AccessAbility, Disability Rights South Carolina, Walton Options, UofSC Center for Disability Resources, South Carolina Developmental Disabilities Council.”


Villar J, Ariff S, Gunier RB, et al. Maternal and Neonatal Morbidity and Mortality Among Pregnant Women With and Without COVID-19 Infection: The INTERCOVID Multinational Cohort Study. JAMA Pediatr. 2021;175(8):817–826. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.1050

Contact our Vaccine Access Helpline at 1-800-787-6046.

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