A Stringent Need For Resources
Almost none of the contributors who contacted MNT had access to any specialized resources through their healthcare teams.
They confessed to navigating long COVID independently, with informal support from dedicated online groups set up by people in similar situations, such as the Body Politic support group.
Some of them have been researching treatments and coping strategies online, turning to Reddit forums and YouTube videos discussing potentially helpful medication for people with long COVID.
Jean told MNT that she wishes there was more interest from researchers and medical professionals concerning long COVID, in general, but also specifically concerning menstrual cycles:
âIn general, medical advice is lacking for the entire COVID illness, with regard to periods. Iâve been told stress and anxiety by the majority of doctors for every symptom. Iâve worked in the medical device field in womenâs health, so Iâm very aware of these issues â the gender bias is ingrained in medicine, and add to thatâ¦ Iâve been through lots of stress in certain periods of my life and have never had any of these symptoms.â
Rose wished that there were more ways of finding out whether a person has had COVID-19 besides antibody tests â blood tests that show if a person has recently had a SARS-CoV-2 infection by screening for the presence of antibodies generated in reaction to this virus.
What Do Anecdotal Reports Say
Let’s first take a look at the menstrual changes people have said they’ve noticed, most of which appear to be short-lived.
“The most common thing people report is a heavier period than usual, and the next most common thing is a later period,” said Dr Male, who is running a study in the UK investigating whether these short-term changes could be linked to vaccination.
“Most people say that happens for one cycle some people say they have two periods out of whack.”
Dr Male said the changes did not appear to be associated with any single vaccine, and that they rarely extended beyond one or two cycles.
Similarly, researchers in the US have said the self-reported menstrual changes they’ve analysed also appear to be short-lived, but that people’s experiences were highly variable.
“, people on long-acting hormonal contraceptives, people on gender-affirming hormones and post-menopausal people were all reporting effectively surprise periods or breakthrough bleeding,” Kate Clancy, an associate professor at the University of Illinois, told The Guardian.
Healthcare worker Kaye Kingham, 38, was recently taken by surprise when she noticed changes to her menstrual cycle after getting the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Her period had come a week early, which was unusual given her regular cycle.
“Exactly 28 days, give or take a day it was pretty clockwork,” said the Victorian, who kept close tabs on her cycle after switching to a different type of contraceptive pill six months ago.
Pandemic Stress Can Wreak Havoc On Your Cycle
Most people would agree that the pandemic has been stressful. A lot of us are worrying about our health and our loved ones health. Some have gone through the pains of working from home. Also, we are all dealing with uncertainty of when things will return to normal.
Needless to say, many of us are dealing with way more stress on our plates than normal.
Stress can quickly take a toll on our bodies, leaving people feeling drained, irritable, and even leading to things like stomach problems and losing hair. Thispandemic stress can also affect our menstrual cycle.
Even before COVID-19, stress has been a common cause in period changes. The problem with feeling stressed is that it initiates our fight or flight response. When were stressed, we release the hormone cortisol. Cortisol can delay or stop ovulation and reduce our progesterone levels. This can lead to menstrual changes.
Also, stress can affect your hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. This is basically how your brain communicates with your ovaries using hormones as the messenger. Things like mental stress, physical stress, and even sleep disruptions can all bog down your HPO axis, which affects how much estrogen and progesterone your ovaries produce. This, in turn, can meddle with your cycle.
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What Are The Effects Of Stress Related To Covid
Pandemic stress is real, and stress can affect menstruation. People who menstruate may experience missed, irregular, or lighter periods. A recent Northwestern Medicine study found that increased stress levels related to COVID-19 led to menstrual-cycle irregularities. The study surveyed more than 200 people who menstruate, and more than half of that group had experienced changes in their menstrual cycle during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study found that people who had experienced higher levels of stress were more likely to experience heavier menstrual bleeding and a longer duration of their period, compared with those who had moderate stress levels.
Can You Talk About How You Incorporated Studying Whether Covid Vaccination Affected Menstruation Into The Presto Study
So, the study is ongoing, we are still actively recruiting participants from the United States and Canada, from all 50 states, from all 10 provinces, no restrictions. And we now have more than 16,000 women who have enrolled since 2013. And we recruit about 3,000 women per year in a good year. And, of course, provided we have funding from the NIH, which we are lucky to have. And we also recruit their male partners but to a much smaller extent. So, we have, I want to say nearly 4,000 male partners enrolled. And so the study really has not changed its focus. This menstruation project is very much like a supplemental side focus.
Because the study is ongoing, we will have the potential to look at the effects of the booster shots. So, today, we just added some questions about the booster shotswe had to allow for participants to report a change in the brand. So, we didnt assume that they have the same type of vaccinationfor example, Pfizer, you could switch over to Moderna and vice versa. So, we didnt make that assumption. And we also collect a lot of information on the male partner because we know that, for example, fever that might be associated with vaccination could have a profound effect on semen quality. So, we tried to get a full range of information from both partners, and perhaps in the future, we could look at the effects of the booster on menstruation and also fertility.
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Covid Can Also Cause Changes
Its also been suggested that in the face of severe illness, such as COVID, the body temporarily reduces ovulation to redirect energy away from reproduction and towards fighting off infection. Another cause could be the massive inflammatory effects that COVID has on the body, which in turn impacts menstrual cycle disturbances.
Theres some data to back up COVID having an influence. A study comparing the menstrual cycles of 237 patients with COVID to their cycles from beforehand found that 18% of mildly ill and 21% of severely ill patients had longer cycles than previously. These changes had returned to normal within two months of hospital discharge.
So it seems that COVID vaccines and infection with the coronavirus can affect the menstrual cycle, and while not definitively proven, its plausible that pandemic stress does too. Changes seem to return to normal after a few months, but if you experience new issues with your menstrual cycle or changes to your cycles are long lasting, please discuss this with your doctor.
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.
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Can The Vaccine Affect Fertility
Dr Mountfield says there is no evidence to suggest temporary changes to a person’s period after their vaccine will have any impact on their future fertility, or their ability to have children.
Writing for BMJ, Dr Viki Male, a lecturer in reproductive immunology, confirms that, in clinical trials, unintended pregnancies occurred at similar rates in vaccinated and unvaccinated groups.
Elsewhere, Dr. Sarah Hardman, Specialty Doctor SRH, Menopause Lead Chalmers Centre, and Co-Director of the FSRH Clinical Effectiveness Unit also says there is no indication that the effectiveness of hormonal contraception is affected by the COVID-19 vaccine.
RCOG calls for more research to understand why people may have experienced changes in their menstrual cycle after the COVID-19 vaccine. They also highlight that potential side effects on menstruation should not be an afterthought in future medical research.
They say clinical trials should actively seek out this information, as participants are unlikely to report any changes in their period unless someone specifically asks them.
“Information about menstrual cycles and other vaginal bleeding should be solicited in future clinical trials, including trials of COVID-19 vaccines.”
When To See Your Gp
See your GP if you’re not pregnant you’ve had a negative pregnancy test and you’ve missed more than 3 periods in a row.
If you’re sexually active and you have not taken a pregnancy test, your GP may advise you to take one.
They may also ask you about:
- your medical history
- any emotional issues you’re having
- any recent changes in your weight
- the amount of exercise you do
Your GP may recommend waiting to see whether your periods return on their own. In some cases you may need treatment for your periods to return.
You should also see your GP if your periods stop before you’re 45 or if you’re still bleeding when you’re over 55.
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How Often Is This Happening
Because COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials didn’t track data on menstruation, researchers have been relying on vaccine safety-monitoring systems and self-reporting.
In the UK to date, a total of 27,510 reports of “a variety of menstrual disorders” have been reported, “including heavier than usual periods, delayed periods and unexpected vaginal bleeding” following COVID-19 vaccination.
That might sound like a lot but it’s on the background of 43.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses being administered to women.
According to the UK’s national drug regulator, the number of reports is, “low in relation to both the number of females who have received COVID-19 vaccines to date, and how common menstrual disorders generally are”.
In other words, the regulator doesn’t consider the number of “period problems” to be high , given the normal rate of menstrual disorders seen in the wider population. Nevertheless, it says it’s investigating the reports.
Leading reproductive immunologist Sarah Robertson said this wasn’t to say reports of menstrual changes post-vaccination should be dismissed or minimised.
But she said it was important to separate instances of correlation from causation .
“There will be lots of people who link together in their mind,” said Professor Robertson of the University of Adelaide.
Limited Data On Effects Of Covid Vaccines
The study monitored the six consecutive cycles after getting a jab. However, the study only looked at the vaccines produced by BioNTech-Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. Women who received the AstraZeneca vaccine were not included in the study. More than half of the vaccinated received the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine 35% received Moderna, and 7% the J& J/Janssen.
So not all COVID-19 vaccines available in different countries have been considered. One other factor to keep in mind: This study only looked at one of the points raised. According to the study itself, questions remain about other possible changes in menstrual cycles, such as menstrual symptoms, unscheduled bleeding, and changes in the quantity of menstrual bleeding.
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Coronavirus Disease : Post Covid
Most people who develop COVID-19 fully recover, but current evidence suggests approximately 10%-20% of people experience a variety of mid- and long-term effects after they recover from their initial illness. These mid- and long-term effects are collectively known as post COVID-19 condition or long COVID. This Q& A will help you understand more about post COVID-19 condition and so you can make informed decisions to protect yourself and those around you.Its important to remember that our understanding of post COVID-19 condition, along with COVID-19, continues to evolve. Researchers are working with patients who develop post COVID-19 condition to better understand more about its cause, symptoms and effects. WHO will update information and materials as we learn more.
Post COVID-19 condition, also known as long COVID, refers collectively to the constellation of long-term symptoms that some people experience after they have had COVID-19. People who experience post COVID-19 condition sometimes refer tothemselves as long-haulers.
While most people who develop COVID-19 fully recover, some people develop a variety of mid- and long-term effects like fatigue, breathlessness and cognitive dysfunction . Somepeople also experience psychological effects as part of post COVID-19 condition.
These symptoms might persist from their initial illness or develop after their recovery. They can come and go or relapse over time.
- Open windows
Researchers Take A Closer Look At Menstruation
Clinical trials and other studies have already established the vaccines are safe and effective for pregnant women, but the rumors that surrounded menstruation made the National Institutes of Health decide to take a closer look.
“There was a need to be able to counsel women on what to expect,” says Dr. Diana Bianchi, director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which funded the work.
Edelman’s team took data from a popular app known as “Natural Cycles,” which people can use to track their menstrual cycles. Looking at data from 3,959 individuals, they were able to see a small shift in the time between bleeding.
“We see a less-than-one-day change in their menstrual cycle length with vaccination,” Edelman says.
In other words, people who were vaccinated experienced on average a slightly longer menstrual cycle around the time of their first and second doses.
“It’s really nothing to get alarmed about,” Bianchi says. Nevertheless, she adds, it does prove that the vaccines are affecting menstruation independently of other possible factors such as pandemic stress.
“I think the beauty of the study is that it does affirm what individuals were reporting,” she says.
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Menstrual Changes Are Common And Can Be Affected By Stress
Patterns of menstruation can be influenced by a range of factors, including age, medication, illness, diet, exercise habits and stress.
Professor Robertson said if menstrual changes were found to be occurring at higher rates than normal following COVID-19 vaccination, it was most likely the result of “pandemic-induced stress”.
“COVID-19, and the stress that comes with and the disruption to our normal social, family and working lives, can be quite severe,” she said.
High rates of stress have been shown to suppress hormone levels in the brain that help to regulate ovarian function, and cause disruptions to the menstrual cycle through this pathway.
Irregular Periods Clots Symptom Flare
Most of the people we spoke to told us that ever since they contracted COVID-19, they have been experiencing irregular periods, unusual clotting of their period blood, or worsened premenstrual syndrome .
However, while everyone we spoke to had experienced some changes to their menstrual cycle, the form of these disruptions varied.
One contributor, Rose, reported getting irregular periods since she developed COVID-19 months previously.
âI noticed that my menstrual cycles changed immediately when I became ill ,â Rose told MNT.
âTwo weeks into my COVID-19 battle, I was supposed to get my period, and nothing came. I figured to myself, âI must be really sick. It will come next month.â But nothing came the next month, either. Eight months later, and Iâve only had five periods.â
âIn May, I skipped a whole monthâs cycle of having a period. In June and then July, it returned, but very erratic, lasting a lot longer and stopping and starting,â she explained.
Several people told us that they were worried about an unusual amount of clots in their menstrual discharge or about unusually large clots in the blood.
Bianca, a woman in her late 40s, told us that she only started to experience these changes to her menstrual cycle some time after the initial illness.
Edith also reported irregular periods and increases in the severity of long COVID symptoms around the time her period is due.
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Fact Check: Do Covid Vaccines Affect The Menstruation And Fertility Of Women
Women across the world are reporting heavier, earlier, longer, or more painful periods after receiving COVID vaccines. Many are afraid it might affect their fertility. Is there a link?
Since the roll-out of the COVID-19 jabs, there have been many reports of potential side effects. While most have been ruled out through various studies, one of the most persistent claims has prompted much debate online and in the home.
Many women have observed irregularities in their menstruation cycles after getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The changes observed range from earlier or later periods that are heavier or lighter, to longer or more painful periods. Some have even said they skipped an entire cycle.
The effect of COVID-19 vaccines on menstrual cycles, like many other vaccine candidates, was not included as a possible side effect for participants during the 2020 clinical trials. Menstrual side effects are not actively tracked in VAERS , the US-based database that allows vaccine recipients to enter possible side effects themselves. By May 2021, only a small number of individuals had self-reported a menstruation-related issue.
Many women have observed irregularities in their menstruation cycles after getting vaccinated against COVID-19