Nicki Minaj raised eyebrows on Monday when she tweeted about the COVID-19 vaccine, sharing an intense story in the process.
Nicki-Minaj-Posts-About-COVID-and-ED-GettyImages-614931870 . "His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you're comfortable with ur decision, not bullied."
Earlier in the day, she also tweeted that she is currently unvaccinated and planned to skip the Met Gala because attendees had to be vaccinated. "If I get vaccinated it won't for the Met," she tweeted. "It'll be once I feel I've done enough research. I'm working on that now." (Later that night, however, she tweeted again that she "never said this," referring to the tweet about the Met Gala.)
People had a field day in the comments of her tweet about her cousin's friend's swollen testicles, with many pointing out that the friend likely used the vaccine as a cover-up for something else.
Doctors weighed in too. "Chlamydia is a more likely explanation – and may also explain why the relationship ended," microbiologist Florian Krammer, PhD, tweeted. Uche Blackstock, MD, also offered to speak with Minaj about the vaccine, writing, "Nicki, I'd love to talk to you about the COVID vaccine. Impotence is significantly more likely from COVID and there have been no documented cases of impotence associated with the COVID vaccine."
OK, but is there any chance the COVID-19 vaccine can cause swollen testicles or impotence? Here's what experts told us.
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What are the potential side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Here's a breakdown of possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Pain where you got the shot
- Redness in the area where you got the shot
- Swelling on the arm where you got the shot
- Muscle pain
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OK, so can the COVID-19 vaccine cause erectile issues?
"There is zero evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine causes impotence or swollen testicles," Amesh Adalja, MD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Health.
Richard Watkins, MD, an infectious disease physician and professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Health that there is likely "an alternative explanation, like a different infection." (He points out that both mumps and certain STIs can cause impotence and swollen testicles.) "If you got into a car accident after getting the shot, no reasonable person would blame the vaccine," Dr. Watkins adds.
Another thing that may cause erectile dysfunction, or ED, that's worth noting? COVID-19. "If someone becomes critically ill with COVID-19, there is a chance that erectile dysfunction may ensue," Dr. Adalja says. There has been some preliminary evidence to suggest that people with COVID-19 are more likely to struggle with ED than those who have not had the virus. An analysis of 100 people—25 who were COVID-positive and 75 who were COVID-negative—found that the prevalence of ED was "significantly higher" in the COVID-positive group. Specifically, 28% of those who had COVID-19 had ED, compared to 9% of those who did not have the virus.
Another small study published in May from researchers at the University of Miami analyzed penile tissue in men with severe ED before they underwent surgery for a penile prosthesis. Two of the men had a history of COVID-19; two others did not. The researchers found that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was still present in the penile tissue of the men who previously had the virus. "Our results also suggest that widespread endothelial cell dysfunction from COVID-19 infection can contribute to ED," the researchers concluded.
If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, doctors recommend consulting medical experts. "The fact is the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and the best way to prevent any of the complications that occur with COVID-19," Dr. Adalja says. "So many people attack the COVID-19 vaccines with arbitrary assertions made in defiance of the need for evidence. This speaks to the lack of scientific literacy in this country and is something that has really hampered the pandemic response."
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