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The Answer To Those Covid Vaccine And Period Questions You’re Too Afraid To Ask
While the response to the spread of Covid-19 has certainly varied around the world, one thing that did unite mankind – if only briefly – was the race to find a vaccine against the global pandemic. At the time, it was hailed as our only hope in terms of seeing things return to normal, and as the blunder currently witnessed here in Australia in terms of the vaccine rollout seems to suggest, they might just be right. As states around the country continue to find themselves battling outbreaks, there’s an ever-growing demand from citizens to be vaccinated.
Since its rollout though, the vaccine has continued to court questions from people regarding its efficacy, health risks and testing. While many of these questions have been discussed on news panels and forums, for women there are a number that still remain unanswered and revolve around the vaccine and periods. It might sound odd to see such a correlation, but since the vaccine arrived there have been murmurings of late periods, breakthrough bleeding and the return of periods for those who went through menopause. All of it is enough to leave you scratching your head, wondering what might just happen to you and if there really is a link between the Covid vaccine and periods. Below, we round-up the answer to questions you might be too afraid to ask your GP.
Does the Covid vaccine affect fertility?
In short: no. Thus far, there’s no evidence to suggest the Covid vaccine has any negative impact on your fertility. According to Dr Kieran Kennedy, “What’s really important to point out here is that reports that Covid vaccines might harm or disrupt hormone cycles, fertility, miscarriage rates or pregnancy aren’t backed. A lot of super anxiety-provoking myths were floating around the internet when the vaccines first launched and one of these was that receiving the vaccine might impact a woman’s fertility. Fairly extensive research and evidence now exists to show this is absolutely not the case – even if women notice a temporary change to their period after receiving a vaccine, there’s no apparent link to any harm on fertility.”
Does the Covid vaccine mess with your menstrual cycle?
Potentially. In an interview with Mama Mia, Dr Imaan Joshi explained that current evidence doesn’t suggest there’s an increased risk of menstrual issues that arise from the vaccine. Rather, any issues that may occur around your menstrual cycle are “temporary and mild after any of the vaccines.” Currently, much of the evidence is anecdotal and based on overseas studies and scientists have been quick to note that further research into the vaccine’s impact on cycles is necessary.
Dr Joshi explained, “Expert guidance at the moment is still that the risk of a heavier than normal period should not deter women from getting vaccination, as any issues are usually temporary and mild with no effect on fertility.”
Dr Kieran Kennedy also notes that there has been “anecdotal [report based] information arising about women noticing changes to their period after receiving a Covid vaccination,” but Kennedy was quick to assure that “at the moment this far and away appears to be an exception rather than the rule, with most women who’ve been vaccinated reporting no changes or impacts on their menstrual cycle at all.”
He added, “In those who have reported changes, it appears that missed, more painful, longer or heavier periods than usual have occurred. In the vast majority it looks like this has been temporary (single cycle) and then things return fully to normal.”
Are certain vaccines linked to irregular periods?
From the evidence that currently exists (and it should be noted, the studies are limited), it’s reported that from the 4000 women who recorded menstruation irregularities:
- 2734 irregular periods were related to AstraZeneca
- 1158 irregular periods related to Pfizer
- 66 irregular periods related to Moderna
It needs to be stressed that ‘irregular periods’ in this case refers to anything from a period being a little heavier than usual to delays in the cycle and unexpected spotting. While data has suggested there is a link between the Covid vaccine and irregular periods, Dr Joshi explains that “the number of reports of menstrual disorders and vaginal bleeding is low in relation to both the number of females who had received Covid-19 vaccinations and how common menstrual disorders are generally.”
In other words, the period deviations we’re seeing with the Covid vaccine are the same as you could expect from any medical research, regardless of the vaccination. There’s also the fact that people could be attributing irregularities in their period to the vaccine when they may have experienced the irregularities without it.
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Can the Covid vaccine bring back periods for perimenopausal or postmenopausal women?
Research suggests that the most common age period irregularities have been reported is in the 30-49 age bracket, in which perimenopausal and postmenopausal women are included. However, so far no studies have looked specifically at whether post-menopausal women bleed following the vaccine.
New research out of the UK has cited a small number of “postmenopausal women and trans men who normally do not bleed due to being on hormones, reported unexpected bleeding after the Covid-19 vaccine.” As Dr Kennedy suggests, alongside these reports of some women noting changes to their usual period, “there are also a smaller number of reports or peri or post-menopausal women noting spotting or light bleeding after their vaccine. Research and further data collection is ongoing at the moment, but it doesn’t appear that this is occurring due to a harmful impact on the uterus or the reproductive cycle.”
Still, if a postmenopausal or perimenopausal woman experiences bleeding outside of their periods, it is recommended they visit the doctor ASAP. This isn’t a consequence of the vaccine, but rather to check for factors beyond a vaccine reaction. As Dr Kennedy says, “Any new or re-emerging bleeding or period after a woman has reached menopause should signal a need for a checkup with your doctor as there are other potential causes that need to be checked out and might be cause for concern. If in doubt, always reach out to your doctor and book a checkup.”
Why do some women experience bleeding mid-cycle after getting the Covid vaccine?
The verdict on this isn’t out, and so far many aren’t even convinced such bleeding is a response to getting the Covid-19 vaccine. As Dr Kennedy suggests, “At the moment the answer to this question is still being elucidated too, but there are theories and possible reasons why receiving a vaccine (including those for HPV or the flu for example) might cause a temporary impact on a woman’s cycle. This isn’t something that’s been noted strictly to the Covid vaccine alone either – which should offer some comfort! Reports of vaccination for the flu or HPV impacting women’s periods temporarily have been around for many years.”
Often, bleeding is a natural immunity response. As Dr Joshi explains, “An immunologist surmises that there are numerous immune cells throughout the body, especially the uterus where they work to regulate how and when we bleed for each cycle. Her hypothesis is that the vaccine may temporarily impact these immune cells, causing spotting and period irregularities. Likewise, inflammation int he body (due to illness or an immune response) may also temporarily disrupt the timing of ovulation and bleeds – but there is no evidence that any of these changes are permanent or anything to worry about.”
While random bleeding might occur following the jab, it isn’t cause for alarm and will go back to normal, with no impact on your overall fertility.
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If someone experiences irregularities with their periods, when should they consult a doctor?
Regardless of whether you’ve recently had the vaccination or not, irregularities with your period should be noted down and discussed with your doctor. It’s recommended that you use a period tracker of some capacity so as to ensure that if something is off, you know immediately. As Dr Kennedy suggests, “When it comes to our health, including periods, any significant change from normal, new signs and symptoms or something that lasts far longer than it should, go for a check-up. It’s important that women know that while it looks like some mild temporary changes to their period could occur after a Covid vaccine, there are also many other reasons why a period might become irregular or change.”
Ultimately, it appears people in the community are fearful of the vaccine but there is an incredible amount of health knowledge out there to dispel any fears or concerns you might have. All trials have led to the approval of these vaccines for use in the wider public and menstrual irregularities were not a feature.
As Dr Joshi explains, “What is important to note is what all doctors and women know, that menstrual irregularities are common, even for women who are normally like clockwork.” Dr Joshi adds, “Given the degree of stress the Covid vaccines have caused, it is not unusual to see menstrual irregularities. But even when it would seem they may be linked to the vaccines, these things can anecdotally happen and are usually temporary and usually mild, and certainly not a reason to avoid the vaccine.”
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