Menstrual Cycle Features And The Covid
Unfortunately, questions about menstruation have been excluded from most large-scale COVID-19 studies , so it is currently unclear how many women have experienced menstrual cycle changes, how long these changes persisted, whether menstrual changes reflect common and expected fluctuation in menstrual features over time or the impact of an exposure and what exactly this exposure is. Given this complexity, the impact of any menstrual changes since the start of the pandemic is also unclear. Even outside the context of COVID-19, studying menstrual cycle features is challenging. Normal variation exists within women over the lifespan and between women in relation to characteristics such as history of infertility, parity, body mass index and exercise. In addition, menstrual cycle features such as volume, pain and PMS symptoms are subjective and data are necessarily collected, in health care as well as research, by self-report.
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Does The Covid19 Vaccine Affect The Menstrual Cycle
Like any other vaccine, covid vaccines also have some temporary side effects such as fever, swelling or tenderness in arms, fatigue, and headache for one or two days. These side effects prove that the immune system of the body is responding to the vaccine.
The vaccine is now available to the 18 to 45 age group. The women falling under this age group generally menstruate and have reported a new side effect that is an irregular period cycle after getting the job. Some women have witnessed heavy flow, while some totally missed their periods.
Apart from this menstrual irregularity, a new rumour has surfaced in social media is that the covid vaccine affects fertility and it is unsafe to get vaccinated before and after 5 days of your periods. Dr Shivani Sachdev Goursaid that it is a complete myth that covid vaccines are affecting womens fertility. Covid vaccines are completely safe and cannot affect fertility. However, studies are still going on the fact whether there is any relation between the corona vaccine and the menstrual cycle. But it is sure that even if there is any relation, it is temporary, merely for 2 or 3 days.
Possible Relation with Menstrual Cycle
Since no study has claimed the relationship between the corona vaccine and menstrual cycle, there is no certain cause for the same. However, some experts suggest the following possible causes.
What Will Researchers Be Doing
To learn whether there is a connection between vaccination and changes in menstruation, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development recently released a notice of special interest for researchers to compare the menstruation experiences of vaccinated and unvaccinated people. NICHD will support research focused on menstruation before and after vaccination and how vaccination as well as other factors, such as stress, might influence menstrual changes.
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Menstrual Changes After Covid
A link is plausible and should be investigated
Common side effects of covid-19 vaccination listed by the UKs Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency include a sore arm, fever, fatigue, and myalgia.1 Changes to periods and unexpected vaginal bleeding are not listed, but primary care clinicians and those working in reproductive health are increasingly approached by people who have experienced these events shortly after vaccination. More than 30000 reports of these events had been made to MHRAs yellow card surveillance scheme for adverse drug reactions by 2 September 2021, across all covid-19 vaccines currently offered.1
Most people who report a change to their period after vaccination find that it returns to normal the following cycle and, importantly, there is no evidence that covid-19 vaccination adversely affects fertility. In clinical trials, unintended pregnancies occurred at similar rates in vaccinated and unvaccinated groups.2 In assisted reproduction clinics, fertility measures and pregnancy rates are similar in vaccinated and unvaccinated patients.3456
Even More Menstrual Cycle Disruptions For Women With Endo Or Pcos
Evidence from the study published in BMJ, which included about 1,200 women with records of their menstrual cycles and vaccination dates, showed that people with a preexisting diagnosis of endometriosis or PCOS were more likely to notice disruptions to their cycle than people without those diagnoses.
That could suggest that, in some people who are already vulnerable to cycle disruptions, the vaccines could be having an effect, says Victoria Male, PhD, one of the study authors and a lecturer in reproductive immunology in the department of metabolism, digestion, and reproduction at Imperial College London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Campus in the United Kingdom.
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Sooo What Could Be Causing Erratic Periods
Dr. Polaneczky explains that there are mechanisms in the reproductive system that are closely tied to the immune system. Like other vaccines, the COVID vaccine generates inflammatory molecules called cytokines and interferons. “We know that the endometrium of the uterus has receptors for these molecules and is a very active immunoresponsive organ,” Dr. Polaneczky says.
For example, in order to become pregnant, the immune system has to suppress itself in order to allow an embryo to implant. The hormones that control these mechanisms change throughout the menstrual cycle. “One could postulate, perhaps, that the inflammatory response from the vaccine is somehow interacting with the immunological mechanisms that are ongoing in the uterus and disrupting them in some way,” Dr. Polaneczky says, though she personally doubts it. “If thats the case, I think we should have seen it in the vaccine trials, and I think we would see it with other vaccinations . So far, we havent.” This might sound scary, but it’s nothing to worry about.
“Lets say this is true, that it is a vaccine side effect, theres no evidence that its concerning,” Dr. Gunter says. “The endometrium is built to respond just like youre built to have a fever.” In other words, the body is responding exactly the way it’s supposed to, and it’s likely a single-cycle event.
Covid Vaccine Effect On The Menstrual Cycle: What Are The Reported Menstrual Irregularities
It seems that most reports of the COVID vaccine effect on the menstrual cycle involve periods showing up earlier and being more painful than usual. But keep in mind that these reports of period changes are unofficial and unverified. It remains to be determined exactly why this is happening.
Some period irregularities have been noted in women with COVID-19 infection, but nothing has been officially reported in relation to the vaccines. Unfortunately, theres nothing in vaccine clinical trial data regarding menstrual changes. More on why that is, below.
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Needless To Say Covid Has Caused A Lot Of Stress In Peoples Lives And In Particular Women Research Has Shown Is It Possible Thats Causing Menstruation Changes
Theres a lot more research out there on the effects of chronic stress and fertility. I dont know as much about menstruation, but theres certainly a link between the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis that produces stress hormones and the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis that produces ovarian hormones that are important for menstruation. So, there is quite a bit of literature on the connectedness, the interrelatedness between those two axes. And so, for sure in PRESTO and many previous studies, we have found that higher levels of perceived stress, as measured by the perceived stress scale, have been associated with reduced fertility. And that makes a lot of sense. So, certainly a part of the association were seeing here, or the anecdotal reports that were seeing when we look at vaccination and menstruation, could be driven by increased levels of stress related to the COVID pandemic. So, itll be very important to control for that. And, yes, I would say the evidence to support that is much clearer. Stress can harm reproduction, stress is negatively associated with menstruation.
No Link To Miscarriage
This doesn’t mean there is any link to miscarriages though – during pregnancy different processes maintain the womb lining, including the presence of the placenta – the organ linking the fetus to its mother’s blood supply.
Dr Male said there is now extensive evidence from women who have had the jab which suggests they are at no higher risk of pregnancy loss.
While these changes shouldn’t be of concern, Dr Male and others spoken to for this article emphasise the need for studies into the effect of the vaccine on periods, so that people know what to expect.
“There’s an issue here about how often women’s health is ignored,” she said.
“Imagine if you didn’t know that fever could be a vaccine side effect?” gynaecologist Dr Jen Gunter wrote on her site The Vajenda.
“You might be concerned that something untoward was happening to your body, when all you were experiencing was a typical post-vaccine fever. That is exactly the same with menstrual irregularities.”
Equally, for trans men and post-menopausal women, bleeding can be a sign of cancer, so it’s important for people to know whether it is also a harmless vaccine side effect, Dr Lee explained.
Dr Sue Ward, vice-president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said anyone who notices bleeding that is unusual for them should consider contacting their doctor. And she encouraged people to think about reporting any concerns or possible side effects to the Yellow Card scheme to help track them.
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Covid Vaccine Effect On The Menstrual Cycle: Does The Covid
Another myth floating around is that the Covid-19 vaccines effect on the menstrual cycle could affect fertility . Currently, there is no reason to believe this is true for the vaccinated person or for people nearby.
There is also no reason to believe that simply being around a vaccinated person will lead to reproductive problems, despite what you read online. Such claims are untrue and even harmful.
If youre considering pregnancy, these rumors can be scary. But its important to have all the facts. Pregnancy is a risk factor for developing severe illness with COVID-19, meaning infection more dangerous in pregnancy. Experts believe the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.
Menstrual Irregularities And The Covid
Romina Garcia de Leon, Neuroscience MSc student, Faculty of Medicine, UBC Jennifer Richard, PhD, Department of Psychology, UBC Liisa Galea, PhD, WHRC Lead
Imagine if you didnt know that fever could be a vaccine side effect? You might be concerned that something untoward was happening to your body when all you were experiencing was a typical post vaccine fever. That is exactly the same with menstrual irregularities. .
There is a growing concern that the COVID-19 vaccine is causing disruptions to menstrual cycles and questions as to why the vaccine may have this effect have been raised by women awaiting their vaccines. Valid, as these questions are, we have few answers as there has been very little to no research in this area. In fact, most of these concerns have been reported through social media and voluntary self-report on databases such as the United States Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System and the Canada Vigilance Adverse Reaction Online Database.
Yet, to date, there have been no systemic studies to examine whether the COVID-19 vaccine or other factors are causing these irregularities. So, short of an actual study to show that there is any effect of the COVID-19 vaccine on menstrual cycles, what can we infer?
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Implications On Womens Health
Even if menstrual cycle changes occur infrequently, it is still important to fully explore the possible effects that the COVID-19 vaccines may have.
Vaccine hesitancy among young women is largely driven by false claims that COVID-19 vaccines could harm their chances of future pregnancy, Dr. Male writes. Failing to thoroughly investigate reports of menstrual changes after vaccination is likely to fuel these fears.
Dr. Katharine Lee, a postdoctoral research scholar in the Division of Public Health Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, weighed in on the importance of beginning this research.
I am happy to see this paper published because it is an important area of research, Dr. Lee told Medical News Today.
Variation in menstrual cycles is surprisingly understudied, even though we know that they should respond to lots of kinds of stressors, including immune and inflammatory responses. Dr. Male makes a number of good points, and Im especially glad shes highlighting the safety of the vaccines, said Dr. Lee.
MNT also spoke with Dr. Sarah Gray a general practitioner based in Cornwall, England. Dr. Gray is an expert in womens health and ran a specialist womens health clinic for the National Health Service for 15 years.
Womens health has not been a research priority for the last 20 years and there is much we do not know, she added.
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What About Women Who Might Be Thinking About Pregnancy Loss And Vaccination
So, it is not as alarming as one would thinkpregnancy loss is actually pretty common. Its about 20 percent of all confirmed pregnancies. So, all pregnancies that might be confirmed by a home pregnancy test, about 20 percent of them do result in a loss after that point. So, its much more common than scientists initially conceived. And there have been two studies that have come out at least showing no effect of COVID vaccination on miscarriage. The data have been pretty limited. Theyve been looking at later losses because theyve been using claims databases. Some of them actually might rely on self reported data. I dont know if youve heard of the v-safe. So, its basically when I got my vaccination I actually got invited to participate. Its like this link that was sent to me and I just filled it out based on how I was feeling, what are my symptoms. And Id get a questionnaire through my text messages, I think it was like every week after I was first vaccinated, and then it was like every month thereafter. That is a sort of national dataset of individuals who did opt in to complete the questionnaires after they were vaccinated. And that study also did not find any association between COVID vaccination and miscarriage.
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What Women Can Do To Stay Healthy Right Now
According to Dr. Fyffe, three things that may promote health are exercise, rest and a healthy diet.
Exercise provides many benefits for your body. It can help your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels, it can help with weight management, it reduces your risk for heart disease and improves your mental health and well-being. Dr. Fyffe adds that in addition to stress, the pandemic has caused more of us to adopt a sedentary lifestyle. So by increasing exercise, you can lessen the effects of stress on the body.
Get enough sleep
While everyone has different schedules and obligations, Dr. Fyffe recommends getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Sleep disturbances and/or inadequate periods of rest, can affect your hormones and subsequently, your menstrual cycle.
Watch your diet
Aim for a balanced diet which should include adequate levels of carbohydrates, proteins, low-fat, low-sugar, and iron-rich foods. And remember that when you eat too much or dont eat enough, it can affect your menstrual cycle. Also, make sure that youre drinking enough water. The recommended daily amount of water is 64 fluid ounces.
Take note of the stressors around you
Dr. Fyffe says a lot of factors in our environment can add to our stress. These things can influence our diet, sleep schedule, and medication regimen.
Expectations For Further Research
However, in speaking with MNT, both the people with lived experiences of period changes after getting a COVID-19 vaccine and the researchers investigating this phenomenon flagged the stringent need to include menstruating people in clinical trials, record any period-related effects, and keep the public informed of any such phenomena.
I think just remembering to ask about differences in the menstrual cycle as part of standard clinical testing of vaccines might be nice, given that we expect a huge immune response, and we know that huge immune response can disrupt lots of other inflammatory pathways in people, and menstrual cycles tend to be something that people who have periods pay attention to, and notice when things get a little bit wonky , Dr. Lee told us.
Dr. Lee also expressed some disappointment that the researchers assessing the safety and effectiveness of two-dose COVID-19 vaccines appeared not to have considered assessments of their potential impact on menstrual cycles:
This is a premise that researchers and health experts ought to rethink going forward, Dr. Lee suggested.
Adrienne also told MNT that she wished she had more information about potential changes to her period before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine so that this effect did not take her by as much surprise.
I guess it would have been good to be prepared for it ahead of time and for the scientific community to take this impact seriously, as women do tend to just suffer through it, she said.
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Research Shows No Impact On Fertility
Both experts hastened to add that it was important not to confuse temporary menstrual changes with long-term fertility.
There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause any adverse effects on reproductive or pregnancy outcomes, and vaccination may even reduce the incidence of stillbirth.
A US study of over 35,000 pregnant women who received an mRNA-based vaccine found pregnant and non-pregnant women experienced similar side effects.
The chance of serious events like miscarriage and placental abnormalities occurred at a similar rate across both groups.
In Australia, pregnant women are recommended to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at any stage of pregnancy, and women who are breastfeeding or planning to get pregnant are also encouraged not to delay their vaccine.
Professor Robertson said large studies had consistently shown vaccines were safe, highly effective, and had no impact on fertility.
She urged pregnant women who face an increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19 to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“When you weigh up the benefit of getting vaccinated compared to not getting vaccinated, it’s a total no-brainer,” she said.
“You’re putting yourself and your baby at higher risk if you’re not vaccinated when you could have been.”