Why Reports Of Menstrual Changes After Covid Vaccine Are Tough To Study
Sore arms. Headaches. Low-grade fevers.
These are some of the expected side-effects of a COVID-19 vaccine a sign that the bodys mounting an immune response and learning how to fend off the novel coronavirus.
But thousands of people in the U.S. think they may have had other side-effects that drugmakers and doctors never warned them about: unexpected changes in their menstrual cycles. Though many researchers and gynecologists say a causal link hasnt yet been established between the vaccines and the reported changes, that hasnt stopped the worry among some people. And so far, scientists havent collected much data on whether or how the vaccines might affect a menstrual period.
Kate Clancy, a human reproductive ecologist and associate professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and biological anthropologist Katharine Lee of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis hope to change that. Clancy has centered her research for decades around uterine function, ovarian hormones and menstrual cycles, and Lee is also a data engineer; her current post-doctoral work includes collaborations on physical activity and reproductive hormones across the lifespan in healthy adult premenopausal women.
The two researchers have collected more than 140,000 reports from people who say theyve noticed a change in their periods after vaccination; Lee and Clancy are formally documenting those cases in an open-ended study.
We Face A Lack Of Scientific Evidence For Now
Though Tu and other OB-GYNs I consulted think there could be some correlation between the second vaccine and altered menstruation in some women, there’s no substantial scientific research yet available on the subject, so we’re still very much in the realm of anecdotal evidence.
We don’t have good scientific research yet to know yet if the vaccine is directly affecting menstruation,” said Dr. Nora Doyle, OB-GYN specialist and the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV’s assistant dean of student affairs.
Dr. Michael Tahery, an OB-GYN, urogynecologist and assistant professor of OB-GYN at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine, concurred with Doyle, adding that we likely won’t know how much or if at all the Covid-19 vaccine affects menstruation for another few years. But so far no studies in any of the OB-GYN literature indicate that there could be a problem,” Tahery said.
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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Is The Covid Vaccine Affecting Our Periods
June 22nd 2021 / Melanie Macleod /
Almost a third of women have reported heavier, more painful periods after our coronavirus jab, according to a survey. What’s going on? We asked the doctors
If you’ve had the Covid jab, did you notice your period was heavier or more painful? Or perhaps it was delayed or irregular? If yes, you’re not alone. Doctors and health practitioners are seeing more women who are experiencing post-vaccine period disruption. “I’ve seen women experiencing changes in menstruation after their Covid vaccine, varying from early periods, heavier flows and increased cramping,” confirms Dr Janice Johnston, medical director of US healthcare plan Redirect Health.
Now new research published by the government’s vaccine watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency confirmed what doctors have been reporting anecdotally. It has revealed to The Sunday Times that it has received almost 4,000 reports of period irregularities post-vaccine, with 2,738 related to AstraZeneca, 1,558 related to Pfizer and 66 related to Moderna. There could in fact be more cases than this, reproductive immunologist Victoria Male of Imperial College London told the newspaper. “Not everyone will be reporting any menstrual changes they have noticed to Yellow Card simply because not everyone knows it exists.”
Is It Safe To Take Covid Vaccine During Menstruation
The fourth and the biggest phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive commenced on May 1, 2021. Registrations have finally opened up for all the population above the age of eighteen. We are going through a time when our nation is struggling with the worst crisis since the beginning of the pandemic. In this situation, getting vaccinated is the need of the hour for us.;
However, several myths are doing the rounds, clouding peoples judgement about taking the vaccine. And one such misinformation surfacing on social media and WhatsApp forwards is that women should not get vaccinated during menstruation. We urge you to not rely on unverified sources for such content and verify the facts from a doctor.
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Does The Covid Vaccine Affect Future Pregnancy
In terms of fertility and pregnancy, âthere are no known safety concerns with the vaccine,â according to Dr. Sigal Klipstein, a reproductive endocrinologist and member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine COVID-19 Task Force.However, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, fertility patients should avoid getting the vaccine three days before and three days after any fertility procedures like egg retrieval and embryo transfer. The precaution is to avoid confusion with any post-procedure side effects.
Surveying Changes To Periods
Anthropologist Dr Kathryn Clancy at the University of Illinois spoke on Twitter about how her period arrived early and was heavier than usual one week after her first dose of the Moderna vaccine. She received so many responses from others reporting changes to their menstrual cycle that she launched a survey asking for people who have been vaccinated to share their menstrual experiences.
The HPV vaccine and the flu vaccine have been reported to affect menstrual cycles temporarily so it wouldnt be surprising of COVID-19 vaccines do so briefly either. Immune cells are at work in the creating and then breaking down the lining of the uterus that happens during menstruation; vaccines produce inflammatory molecules called cytokines and interferons that stimulate immune cells, including potentially in the uterus. This might cause the lining to shed sooner or more intensively than usual, causing changes to the menstrual cycle. Some trans men and post-menopausal women who don’t normally have periods also contacted Dr Clancy to say they had experienced post-vaccine menstrual bleeding.
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The Most Popular J&j Vaccine Story On Facebook A Conspiracy Theorist Posted It
The events outlined here represent a major amplification event for this false information, but they’re by no means the only source of lies about female fertility and the vaccine. Claims about fertility and the coronavirus vaccines go back to at least December, and fertility claims about other vaccines date back even further, in some cases decades.
But the events of earlier this year illustrate how misinformation can spread in a nonlinear manner with many different players adding threads to a web of false content.
Here then is the life cycle of a lie:
An Overlooked Side Effect Is Not The Same Thing As A Cause For Concern
The multitude of stories represents just a small fraction of the many tens of millions of people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Most have not experienced changes to menstruation, including women in the clinical trials, according to statements to NPR from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
“We haven’t really heard much concern about menstrual issues,” says Dr. Kathryn Edwards, a professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine who sits on an independent data monitoring committee for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and is paid by the company for that work.
Edwards says the clinical trials would have picked up any issues that were truly dangerous. For example, researchers were able to detect an extremely rare and dangerous side effect, known as “thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome,” that sometimes caused incidental changes to menstruation. “If it were leading to hospitalizations and severe illness, we would capture that,” she says.
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Morph To Fit The Messenger
Finally, because misinformation about vaccines is not grounded in data, it can mutate to fit any political message or worldview.
Vaccine myths about fertility and reproduction are particularly potent because they affect a large swath of the population, particularly when they incorporate myths about vaccinatedwomen spreading the side effects. “It’s kind of a one-size-fits-all theory in some ways, and the potential impact is everyone, rather than one specific community,” Smith says.
In the weeks following the initial wave of coverage, others were using these ideas to grab audiences. Conservative commentator Candace Owens brought the link between vaccines and menstruation up on Instagram. In a six-minute video questioning vaccine safety, Owens never directly repeated the lies about fertility but didn’t refute them either.
Far-right commentator Alex Jones folded the vaccine lies into his conspiracy theories about Google and Facebook, which he claims are trying to depopulate the Earth. “It’s not just that you’re going to be sterile, you’re not going to be able to have children,” Jones said during a recent broadcast. “You’re not going to be able to eat beef anymore.”
How Menstrual Cycles Can Be Affected By Your Immune System
We might not realize that theres a connection between the uterus and the immune system, but there is one. Dr. Fyffe says that as a woman is about to ovulate, her immune system ramps itself up to prevent any infectious agents from interfering with the fertilization and implantation of the egg. Once the egg is fertilized and implants, the immune system dampens to accept the pregnancy.;;
Dr. Fyffe adds that the lining of the uterus also has immune cells, and those cells can be affected by hormonal changes. Uterine infections can also cause changes in a womans normal menstrual cycle.;
The hypothalamus in the brain is the hormonal control center that works in conjunction with the anterior pituitary gland. Together, messages in the form of hormones are sent to the ovaries and the uterus to increase or decrease hormone levels to facilitate ovulation, pregnancy and the return of the menstrual cycle if fertilization doesnt occur. Emotional stress, physical stress, and chemical stress may affect the hormonal control center which can result in menstrual cycle changes.;;
Can Receiving A Covid
No.;Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will not make you magnetic, including at the site of vaccination which is usually your arm. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that can produce an electromagnetic field at the site of your injection. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals.
Learn more about the ingredients;in the COVID-19 vaccinations authorized for use in the United States.
Could The Vaccine Itself Cause Changes
Dr Male agreed it may be increased levels of stress ;or simply coincidence ;that meant some people were experiencing menstrual changes around the time of their vaccine.
But she said there were also “biologically plausible;ways” in which the vaccines may be having a more direct impact; that meant the link was “worth investigating”.
“We know, for example, the immune response affects sex hormones, and sex hormones affect the immune response,” she said.
“So we can imagine a situation where if you really sort of activate the immune response, then you might see some short-term changes to sex hormones that would have a knock-on effect on the menstrual cycle.”
She said it was also possible a significant activation of the immune system could impact the immune cells in the lining of the uterus, which may have an effect on the heaviness and timing of bleeding.
But Professor Robertson disagreed, and said it was highly unlikely that the degree to which the immune system was activated by a vaccine would be enough to alter immune cells in the ovary or uterus , or to change sex hormone levels in “a meaningful way”.
“The changes in the immune system in normal circumstances are too small, and too far away from these distant sites to cause any effects that would result in menstrual changes,” she said.
“However, I think this is highly unlikely in all but the most rare cases.
“It’s much more likely that other factors explain the menstrual changes that women report.”
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What Does The Data Say So Far
Again, the clinical trial data does not include anything about period changes in women who received the vaccine . However, the information available does not indicate that there were any menstruation-related side effects that were serious leading to hospitalization or surgery, for example.;
Also, there is no publicly available information to suggest that the COVID vaccines effect on the menstrual cycle after vaccination are long-lasting or serious. Researchers at the University of Illinois are currently collecting data on period changes possibly related to the COVID-19 vaccines in this survey. Hopefully, the results can shed some light on how commonly this is happening.;
At the end of the day, women should know this about the COVID vaccines effect on the menstrual cycle: You may experience period irregularities after getting vaccinated. As of now, there is no indication that these changes will persist or threaten your health. Experts confirm that the possibility of a change in your period should not be a reason to skip vaccination. If you experience a change in your cycle that persists, or if you have persistent, heavy bleeding, contact your healthcare provider to be sure its not related to something else.
Precautions To Take Before Getting Vaccinated
If you are getting vaccinated during your period and you want to avoid complications, keeping a few things in mind is necessary.;
One of the crucial facts to remember is that dehydration can cause cramps during periods. With the progesterone and estrogen levels dropping, the body starts to retain more water. Thus, it needs more water to maintain balance and have the bodily processes going smoothly. Also, you should stay two times more hydrated if you are getting vaccinated around or during your periods.
Here are a few more precautions to keep in mind before, during and after vaccination:
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Why Arent Period Changes Listed In The Vaccine Side Effects
According to the US Food and Drug Administration as well as Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnsonthe three authorized vaccine manufacturers in the USwomens consistent reports of period irregularities following the vaccine dont represent evidence that those irregularities exist.
This is at least in part due to the nature of periods, which can be irregular for many reasons, and the little actual understanding we still have about the ways specific factors affect them. In order to identify whether the vaccine alters periods, and how, researchers would need to track them before and after the vaccine is administered, and be able to control for all the other factorssuch as stress, nutrition, medications, immunological statusthat might change it.
Or, one could listen to the many thousands of women who know their periods and say the vaccine has, in some ways, affected it. This is what researchers Kate Clancy of the University of Illinois and Katharine Lee of Washington University are doing. The two are documenting reports of period changes in a study, and have so far received 140,000 reports.
The researchers told NPR they received accounts from trans men on gender-affirming therapy hormones and women in menopause who experienced period-like bleeding after the vaccine, despite not having had a period in a long timesometimes years.
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At first, I thought that the changes were psychological. Its a known thing that stress and anxiety have a bearing on the menstrual cycle. But then, many patients reported that their first period after the vaccination was delayed, was heavier than usual, or that they experienced recurrent spotting, and so on.
Since the pandemic began, a lot of people have undergone major lifestyle changes stress, weight fluctuations, drastic changes in routine, among others. These changes could also be contributing to the changes in menstrual pattern, Dr Pai states.
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What Is Chemical Stress
Women who are taking medications for seizure disorders, diabetes, thyroid conditions, hypertension, depression or other conditions might notice irregularities with their menstrual cycles. These medications can interfere with the hormones that are responsible for menstruation. Some may even cause loss of menstruation, says Dr. Fyffe. ;;
It Could Be Our Immune System Hard At Work
Dr. Tu hypothesized that the reason women may experience an unusual or skipped period after the second vaccine is because of the vaccine’s potency.
Any vaccine so powerful that it triggers such a strong immune response has enormous effects on the body,” Tu said. People talk about how, after the vaccine, they have fatigue and flu-like symptoms. If the vaccine causes that strong an effect, it should be able to affect uterine lining and endocrine levels, too.”
Dr. Doyle sees how the tremendous immune response, particularly spurred by the second vaccine, could disrupt a woman’s cycle noting the complex relationship between a woman’s immune system and her menstrual cycle but reasoned that there could be other causes for a weird or missed period after the Covid-19 vaccine.
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