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Covid Healthline

Do COVID-19 vaccines affect menstrual cycles? Expert calls for investigation

  • COVID-19 vaccines can cause several side effects, which are mostly mild.
  • However, changes to menstrual cycles or unexpected vaginal bleeding are not among the listed side effects for any COVID-19 vaccines available in the United Kingdom or the United States.
  • Despite this, thousands of women reported period changes following vaccination to the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
  • Researchers have not established a formal link between the vaccines and menstrual cycle changes, and some medical professionals want to study the possibility.
Globally, more than 4.6 million people have died due to COVID-19. Vaccines are a crucial component in reducing the spread of the virus.
Some researchers wonder what side effects these life-saving vaccines might have on women’s menstrual cycles.
In an editorial in theBMJTrusted Source, Dr. Victoria Male calls for further investigation into these vaccines’ potential effects on menstrual health. Dr. Male is a reproductive specialist at Imperial College London in London, U.K.

COVID-19 vaccine background

In the early days of the pandemic, the best way to prevent contracting and spreading the virus was to wear masks and practice social distancing. Doctors still recommend these same practices alongside getting one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines.
The Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer–BioNTech, and Jonson and Johnson’s Janssen vaccines are currently available in the U.K.
The Moderna, Pfizer, and Janssen vaccines are also available in the U.S.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, some of the common side effects of the vaccines include:
  • pain at the site of vaccination
  • tiredness
  • fatigue
  • fever

Vaccines and period changes

To date, none of the COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers list any issues pertinent to menstrual health as a side effect.

However, Dr. Male says more than 30,000 people reported menstrual cycle changes following vaccination to the MHRA. She explains that most people who report experiencing changes to their menstrual cycle say things typically return to normal by the next cycle. Importantly, there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination adversely affects fertility.

The author says that research is needed to determine a definitive link between the two and what is triggering that response in some people.

“If there is a connection, it is likely to be a result of the immune response to vaccination rather than a specific vaccine component,” Dr. Male writes.

Stress can disrupt the menstrual cycle and cause cycles to vary or even stop altogether. The immune response created by vaccines can cause this type of stress reaction.

According to Dr. Male, the lack of research on the effects of COVID-19 vaccines on periods is due to the relatively low occurrence of these reports.

Implications on women’s 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.
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