Not Real News

Unfounded claims about COVID-19 vaccine side effects received considerable attention after rapper Nicki Minaj tweeted an unverified story about a cousin’s friend in Trinidad.

CLAIM: COVID-19 vaccines cause impotency and swollen testicles.

THE FACTS: There is no evidence from available research to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines cause erectile dysfunction, swelling of the testicles or male infertility.

The unfounded claims received considerable attention Monday, after Trinidad-born rapper Nicki Minaj tweeted to her more than 22.6 million followers an unverified story about a cousin’s friend in Trinidad. Minaj asserted that the unidentified individual “became impotent” and “his testicles became swollen” after receiving the shot.

The specifics of the claim aren’t clear. A representative for Minaj did not return requests for more information. But, experts say there is no data to support the idea that the vaccines cause erectile dysfunction or swollen testicles.

“We have never seen that,” said Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at the University of Miami’s health system. Orchitis, a condition that can result in swollen testicles, can follow a bacterial infection, such as a sexually transmitted infection. Ramasamy said that while orchitis and erectile dysfunction have not been linked to coronavirus vaccines, there is some evidence suggesting that they could be associated with a COVID-19 infection.

Dr. Ashley Winter, a urologist at Kaiser Permanente in Portland, Ore., who specializes in sexual dysfunction, agreed that there is no indication that the vaccine negatively impacts male sexual function or the testicles overall.

“On a population level, hundreds of millions of men have gotten this vaccine, and there’s no study showing reduced erectile function in men who have been vaccinated,” she said. “Fundamentally, we just have no study linking the vaccine to either swollen testicles or erectile dysfunction.”

Furthermore, experts say there is no established link between COVID-19 vaccines and male infertility or lower sperm counts.

In the days since Minaj’s tweet, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading U.S. infectious disease expert, and Trinidad's health minister have publicly dismissed the claim. The White House offered to connect Minaj with one of the Biden administration’s doctors to address her questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, The Associated Press reported.