No Evidence to Prove COVID-19 Vaccines Can Cause 'Swollen Testicles'

4 min read
Hindi Female

Trinidadian-born rapper and singer Nicki Minaj suggested on Twitter that COVID-19 vaccines may cause impotency by sharing an anecdote of a relative's friend who experienced testicular swelling followed by impotency.

Doctors and scientists around world dismissed the claim that COVID-19 vaccines could cause impotency. Studies too show that the vaccine does not impact the fertility of sexual health in individuals.

On the other hand, research shows that COVID-19 can impact sexual health in people and also impacts fertility.


Claim: COVID-19 Vaccine Caused Testicular Swelling and Impotence

Minaj announced on Twitter that she wouldn't be attending the Met Gala this year as she was not vaccinated and didn't want to get vaccinated until she had "conducted enough research". The Met Gala had asked all the guests to have vaccination certificates.

In a subsequent tweet, Minaj, who has over 22 million followers, shared a story of her counsin's friend from Trinidad.

"My cousin in Trinidad won't get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen," Minaj tweeted.

An archive of the post can be found here.

(Photo: Twitter/Screenshot)

The tweet was retweeted and quote-tweeted over 1,15,000 times and screenshots of the same were shared on other platforms like Instagram and Facebook and on anti-vaccination groups on WhatsApp and Telegram.


Doctors Deny Claims Made by Minaj

Swelling or inflammation of testicles is known as orchitis, which is usually caused bacterial or viral infections. One of the most common causes for developing the condition is bacterial infection from a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

False and unproven claims about COVID-19 vaccine causing male/female fertility and sexual health have been shared by anti-vaccination activists ever since the vaccines were approved. Such claims have been debunked by FIT and WebQoof teams.

We didn't find any research or studies that showed the COVID-19 vaccines cause impotence. Vaccines, in principle, are supposed to act on the immune system of the body.

The vaccines used in Trinidad and Tobago - Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm - don't have impotence or any other sexual dysfunction as a known side effect.

Several doctors responded to Minaj's tweet and said that such a condition could not have been caused by the vaccine. A urologist said that "vaccine does not cause orchitis (i.e. swollen testicles)". Doctors also pointed out that viral infections, including COVID-19, have known to cause orchitis.

Earlier in the year, FIT spoke with urologist Dr Suresh Bhagat, who also denied the claim that vaccines can impact fertility. "COVID-19 vaccines may cause mild fever. So far, there is no data or scientific report that confirms that the fertility of men is reduced after taking the vaccine. This claim is completely fake," Dr Bhagat said.

A study conducted in Miami and published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in June 2021 showed that the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines were safe for male reproduction.

VG Somani, chief of the Drug Authority of India, earlier this year, dismissed the claims about COVID-19 vaccines causing intertiflity or impotence and said, "We'll never approve anything if there's the slightest safety concern. Vaccines are 110% safe. Some side effects like mild fever, pain and allergy are common for every vaccine".


COVID-19 Infection Might Cause Orchitis

Dr Ranjith Ramasamy, Associate Professor of Urology, was part of another study that found that even men with mild COVID-19 could develop erectile dysfunction.

For the study, the team examined the penile tissue of six men who died of COVID-19 infection and found that the virus was present in the tissues of one of the men.

An analysis of penile tissues of two other men who had COVID-19 and were receiving penile implants showed the presence of the virus seven to nine months after the initial diagnosis. Both the men had developed severe erectile dysfunction.

Dr Ramasamy's research findings echoes findings of previous studies linked here and here.


'No Reported Case of Testicular Swelling Following Vaccine': Trinidad Health Officials

Trinidad and Tobago’s health minister, Terrence Deyalsingh, dismissed the claims by the rapper a day after her tweet.

"One of the reasons why we could not respond yesterday in real-time to Miss Minaj is that we had to check and make sure that what she was claiming was either true or false. Unfortunately, we wasted so much time yesterday running down this false claim," Deyalsingh said in press conference.

Health experts in the United Kingdom and the USA have also dismissed the claims. Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, said there was a lot of misinformation on the internet when asked about Minaj's tweet.

“Some of which are clearly designed just to scare, that happens to be one of them. That is untrue,” Chris Whitty, the UK’s chief medical officer, said, while the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also dismissive of the rapper‘s claims.

Despite doctors and scientists dismissing the claim in Minaj's story, her tweet continues to exist on Twitter, without any labels or warnings.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines can cause erectile dysfunction, however, a COVID-19 infection - which can be prevented by the vaccine - might cause that.


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Topics:  Fact-Check   Fit WebQoof   COVID-19 

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