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Author Notes:

Reprint requests: Jennifer F. Kawwass, M.D., Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Emory University School of Medicine, 550 W Peachtree, Atlanta, GA 30308. jennifer.kawwass@emory.edu

The authors thank Dr. Catherine Racowsky and Dr. Ricardo Azziz.

H.S.T. reports grants and personal fees in 2018 from Abbvie and personal fees from Bayer, Obseva, Dot Lab, and Forendo, outside the submitted work (none in 2019 or 2020).

The remaining authors have nothing to disclose.



  • COVID-19
  • Novel coronavirus
  • pregnancy
  • reproduction
  • review

Prior and novel coronaviruses, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), and human reproduction: what is known?


Journal Title:

Fertility and Sterility


Volume 113, Number 6


, Pages 1140-1149

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Objective: To summarize current understanding of the effects of novel and prior coronaviruses on human reproduction, specifically male and female gametes, and in pregnancy. Design: Review of English publications in PubMed and Embase to April 6, 2020. Method(s): Articles were screened for reports including coronavirus, reproduction, pathophysiology, and pregnancy. Intervention(s): None. Main Outcome Measure(s): Reproductive outcomes, effects on gametes, pregnancy outcomes, and neonatal complications. Result(s): Seventy-nine reports formed the basis of the review. Coronavirus binding to cells involves the S1 domain of the spike protein to receptors present in reproductive tissues, including angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE2), CD26, Ezrin, and cyclophilins. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 1 (SARS–CoV-1) may cause severe orchitis leading to germ cell destruction in males. Reports indicate decreased sperm concentration and motility for 72–90 days following Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection. Gonadotropin-dependent expression of ACE2 was found in human ovaries, but it is unclear whether SARS–Coronavirus 2 (CoV-2) adversely affects female gametogenesis. Evidence suggests that COVID-19 infection has a lower maternal case fatality rate than SARS or Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), but anecdotal reports suggest that infected, asymptomatic women may develop respiratory symptoms postpartum. Coronavirus Disease 2019 infections in pregnancy are associated with preterm delivery. Postpartum neonatal transmission from mother to child has been reported. Conclusion(s): Coronavirus Disease 2019 infection may affect adversely some pregnant women and their offspring. Additional studies are needed to assess effects of SARS–CoV-2 infection on male and female fertility.

Copyright information:

© 2020 American Society for Reproductive Medicine

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Universal : Public Domain Dedication License (https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/).
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