Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
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SARS-CoV-2, fertility and assisted reproduction

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-12-16, 13:23 authored by Baris Ata, Nathalie Vermeulen, Edgar MocanuEdgar Mocanu, Luca Gianaroli, Kersti Lundin, Satu Rautakallio-Hokkanen, Juha S Tapanainen, Anna Veiga

Background: In 2020, SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the access to and provision of ART treatments. Gradually, knowledge of the virus and its transmission has become available, allowing ART activities to resume. Still, questions on the impact of the virus on human gametes and fertility remain.

Objective and rationale: This article summarizes published data, aiming to clarify the impact of SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 disease on human fertility and assisted reproduction, as well as the impact of vaccination, and from this, provide answers to questions that are relevant for people contemplating pregnancy and for health care professionals.

Search methods: PUBMED/MEDLINE and the WHO COVID-19 database were searched from inception to 5 October 2022 with search terms focusing on 'SARS-CoV-2' and gametes, embryos, reproductive function, fertility and ART. Non-English studies and papers published prior to 2020 were excluded, as well as reviews and non-peer reviewed publications. Full papers were assessed for relevance and quality, where feasible.

Outcomes: From the 148 papers included, the following observations were made. The SARS-CoV-2-binding proteins, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and type II transmembrane serine protease (TMPRSS2), are expressed in the testis, but co-expression remains to be proven. There is some evidence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the ejaculate of COVID-19 patients with severe disease, but not in those with mild/moderate disease. SARS-CoV-2 infection can impair spermatogenesis, but this seems to resolve after one spermatogenic cycle. Testosterone levels seem to be lower during and after COVID-19, but long-term data are lacking; disease severity may be associated with testosterone levels. COVID-19 cannot be considered a sexually transmitted disease. There is no co-expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 in the myometrium, uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes. Oocytes seem to have the receptors and protease machinery to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection; however, viral RNA in oocytes has not been detected so far. Women contemplating pregnancy following COVID-19 may benefit from screening for thyroid dysfunction. There is a possible (transient) impact of COVID-19 on menstrual patterns. Embryos, and particularly late blastocysts, seem to have the machinery to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Most studies have not reported a significant impact of COVID-19 on ovarian reserve, ovarian function or follicular fluid parameters. Previous asymptomatic or mild SARS-CoV-2 infection in females does not seem to negatively affect laboratory and clinical outcomes of ART. There are no data on the minimum required interval, if any, between COVID-19 recovery and ART. There is no evidence of a negative effect of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination on semen parameters or spermatogenesis, ovarian function, ovarian reserve or folliculogenesis. A transient effect on the menstrual cycle has been documented. Despite concerns, cross reactivity between anti-SARS-CoV-2 spike protein antibodies and Syncytin-1, an essential protein in human implantation, is absent. There is no influence of mRNA SARS-CoV-2 vaccine on patients' performance during their immediate subsequent ART cycle. Pregnancy rates post-vaccination are similar to those in unvaccinated patients.

Wider implications: This review highlights existing knowledge on the impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection or COVID-19 on fertility and assisted reproduction, but also identifies gaps and offers suggestions for future research. The knowledge presented should help to provide evidence-based advice for practitioners and couples contemplating pregnancy alike, facilitating informed decision-making in an environment of significant emotional turmoil.



The original article is available at

Published Citation

Ata B, et al. SARS-CoV-2, fertility and assisted reproduction. Hum Reprod Update. 2022:dmac037.

Publication Date

14 November 2022

PubMed ID



  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


Oxford University Press


  • Published Version (Version of Record)