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With All Due Respect to Nicki Minaj, There’s Still Zero Evidence COVID Vaccines Cause Swollen Testicles (Updated)

Updated on September 16: This article was originally published on Tuesday, September 14. It’s been updated with new information about Nicki Minaj’s communications with the Biden administration regarding the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

How did you feel after you got your COVID-19 vaccine? A little achy? Potentially feverish? Well, Nicki Minaj says that her cousin told her about a friend who says that his balls swelled up after receiving his COVID-19 vaccine. And there’s more, Ninki Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s balls became so swollen that he became impotent, causing his his fiancée to call off their wedding. Talk about a bad week.

Unless you’ve avoided the internet entirely this week, you’ve probably heard about the pop star’s viral tweet on the saga earlier this week. The original tweet was a response to those questioning why she wasn’t getting vaccinated ahead of the Met Gala, an event where vaccination was mandatory for all attending.

Naturally, the internet blew up in response to this, with both pro and anti-vaxxers sharing their opinions with Minaj about why she should, shouldn’t or definitely has to get the vaccine.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading epidemiologist, recently appeared on CNN with Jake Tapper. He was asked whether there’s any evidence that any of the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the U.S cause any reproductive issues in men or women. “The answer to that, Jake, is a resounding no. There’s no evidence that it happens, nor is there any mechanistic reason to imagine that it would happen,” said Dr. Fauci.

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Now, the White House has apparently offered to connect Minaj with a doctor in the Biden administration who can answer her questions about the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines. Minaj claimed, earlier Wednesday, that she’d been invited to the White House, but officials in the nation’s capital have clarified that the offer was for a phone call, not an official White House visit. The rapper then took to Instagram late Wednesday to insist that she had been offered a visit, stating “Do ya’ll think I could go on the Internet and lie about being invited to… the White House?” she said, and arguing her character was being attacked. (And to be fair to Minaj, a lot of people have been attacking her character.) You can find her whole message to her fans here.

It’s the wild, wild west of the Twittersphere in full force, so we decided to consult an expert or two of our own to help squash these rumors that getting the COVID-19 vaccine could cause swollen testicles and/or infertility.

As tends to be the case with viral rumors, the message spreads quickly, especially when it has to do with testicles, and a man’s ability to procreate. And this rumor isn’t just limited to Miss Minaj’s Twitter feed. To take just one example of conspiracy theories swirling around the COVID-19 vaccines, a Canadian pathologist recently shared an Instagram post (that has since been deleted) claiming that men who receive the COVID-19 vaccine may “lost their reproductive capacity.”

A UK doctor was extensively quoted in the European Union Times, a frequent source of misinformation, describing how there is now, “‘sufficient evidence in the literature’ to suggest that vaccine spike proteins express themselves both in the placenta and the testes. For pregnant women, this could mean a terminated pregnancy. For men, it could spell the end of having children altogether.”

These claims are bogus, and in fact, the CDC states on their website that, “currently no evidence shows that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems (problems trying to get pregnant) in women or men.”

We decided to reach out to a few fertility specialists and experts on male birth control to discuss these rumors and set the record straight.


Do COVID-19 Vaccines Cause Male Infertility?

Dr. Zaher Merhi MD, OBGYN and founder of the Rejuvenating Fertility Center, shed some light on the evidence available to dispute the claim that the COVID-19 vaccine may damage male reproductive organs.

“There have been very few studies regarding the impact of COVID-19 vaccine on semen parameters. In one study, the effect of two mRNA vaccines Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna was studied on sperm parameters before and after the COVID-19 vaccination in 45 volunteers aged between 18 to 50 years of age. The results showed no significant decrease in any of the semen parameters after 2 doses of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine.”

What’s more, Merhi said, “the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology also stated that there are no data to support the idea that COVID-19 vaccine impacts male fertility in any way. Even though approximately 16% of men experienced fever after the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during the clinical trial, which might have caused temporary declines in sperm production, this would be similar to or less than if the individual experienced fever from any other simple reason.”

I also asked him about Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend, just to clear the air with that particular situation. He clarified, frankly, that “In Nicki’s cousin’s friend situation, the vaccine could not be the reason for the development of a testicular problem. Coincidences do happen in life.”

Finally, I asked him for any advice he would give to men who are skeptical of the vaccine given the recent rumors.

“For those who are skeptical: the mechanism by which mRNA vaccines work could not physiologically cause any fertility problems since the vaccine itself does NOT circulate into the blood; rather, the vaccine stays in the arm (site of injection) and the body develops immunity to it. This natural immunity is what circulates in the blood and cannot be harmful,” Merhi said.

Well, there you have it. I guess Nicki’s cousin’s friend’s balls just swelled for a regular ol’ reason. We hope he feels better soon.

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, why you should get one, where to get it and all the latest research on its efficacy — check out the CDC’s website.