- A new study shows that women may experience short-term changes in their menstrual cycles after being vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
- The researchers found that these changes were associated with all types of COVID-19 vaccines. But experts still recommend menstruating people get the COVID-19 vaccines.
- “The good news from the data is that the changes were temporary and short-term with no long-term consequences.”
Since the first wave of COVID-19 vaccines became available, we’ve continued to learn more and more about how the shot affects our bodies, and most of the side effects are minimal. And while this remains true, a new study suggests that COVID-19 vaccines may affect your menstrual cycle.
Specifically, medical professionals have now identified a possible link between the COVID-19 vaccine and short-term changes in the length and regularity of the menstrual cycle. The study (the largest to date) was published last week by researchers from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and its findings have already raised many questions for people who menstruate.
As early as 2021, many people began sharing the news that they experienced unexpected menstrual bleeding after receiving their initial COVID-19 vaccine. To further investigate this phenomenon, the researchers asked 39,129 individuals who had received two doses of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, a series of questions about menstrual changes and vaccine trials.
In this sample, 42% of people with regular periods said they bled more heavily than usual after the vaccination, while 44% reported no change. Among respondents who do not usually menstruate, 71% of people taking long-acting reversible contraceptives, 39% of people taking sex-confirming hormones, and 66% of people after menopause reported sudden bleeding.
“The vaccine does not affect your fertility at all.”
The researchers also found that increased/breakthrough bleeding after vaccination was significantly associated with older age, systemic vaccine side effects (fever and/or fatigue), a typical lighter menstrual flow, after a previous pregnancy or childbirth, and ethnicity—specifically of Hispanic/Latino descent. For premenopausal non-menstruating people, breakthrough bleeding was more likely if they were pregnant and/or gave birth before. For postmenopausal people, breakthrough bleeding was more likely for those of Hispanic/Latino descent. Finally, women with endometriosis, menorrhagia, fibroids, and PCOS were more likely to have slightly more bleeding.
Ultimately, the results of this study showed that respondents in the sample who menstruated regularly were equally likely to have no bleeding changes after vaccination at all or to have more profuse periods after vaccination. A much smaller percentage of people had lighter cycles. The study highlighted that “changes to menstrual bleeding are not uncommon or generally serious, yet interest in these experiences is essential to build confidence in medicine.”
It is also important to note the limitations of this study. Since this study was based only on personal responses from participants, the results may be skewed due to self-report bias. People with menstrual cycle changes are more likely to have completed the survey. In addition, this study did not compare results to a control group of people who were not vaccinated.
Kate White, MD, associate professor of OB/GYN at Boston University School of Medicine, and author Your Sexual Health: A Guide to Understanding, Loving, and Caring for Your Body, agrees that this study is limited to a web-based design. In addition, a very high percentage of respondents were white, which may not reflect the experiences of all subjects. But the study size (over 39,000 people) is an amazing strength.”
However, these results are in line with smaller studies that reported changes in menstrual cycle after vaccination while using a control group (unvaccinated people).
What should we take away from these new discoveries?
“Many women have noticed changes in their menstrual cycle after receiving the Covid vaccine and their concerns are often ignored or they are told that their period has been affected by anxiety. This study highlights the fact that women know their bodies better and that the changes were not in their ‘heads’, but rather an effect My real side of the vaccine,” says Jennifer Weider, M.D., an expert in women’s health. “The good news from the data is that the changes were temporary and short-lived without long-term consequences,” she adds.
“There is no long-term effect on your periods.”
These new findings likely affect the way medical professionals look at the later effects of COVID-19 vaccines, and take more consideration for menstrual health in other vaccine trials. “This study underscores how important it is for researchers to monitor menstrual health in future vaccine trials and to better engage with the underlying biological mechanisms at play,” says Dr. Wider.
Should people with menstruation be vaccinated?
The answer is yes. “All people, whether they menstruate or not, should get the COVID vaccine,” says Dr. White. “It is important for doctors to advise patients that the vaccine may temporarily disrupt their periods, but that there is no long-term effect on your periods, and the vaccine does not affect your fertility at all.”
Dr. White continues: “COVID-19 is still a serious infection for many people, and everyone is at risk of recurring infection with the new variants (although the vaccine still provides protection from any infection and from severe infection)… .so vaccine protection is worth tampering with. short term with your periods.”
Given that the menstrual changes observed in study participants were temporary and short-lived, Dr. Wedder agrees, saying that “the importance of vaccination far outweighs the short-term risk of a change in the menstrual cycle.”
Dr. Weider adds that this study “should raise awareness in women who have irregular periods or lighter bleeding cycles that they may experience changes or heavy bleeding and that this may be caused by a vaccine.” Therefore, in the end, the study should serve as a possible explanation for heavy menstrual cycles in some post-vaccination.
Can COVID-19 infection affect the menstrual cycle, too?
According to Dr. Wider, “Women with COVID have reported a change in their menstrual cycle.” However, more studies are definitely needed to elicit why this happens.
“Any infection (or serious stress) can affect your periods,” says Dr. White. “Early studies have shown that COVID-19 infection can alter your menstrual cycle in a number of ways.” “The amount of bleeding you see can change — most often, it leads to a lighter period, but some people have a heavier flow. The timing of your bleeding can also change — sometimes your next period comes early, your next period often comes late (or not). not at all). And these disorders may be around for a long time.”
However, Dr. Wider points out that despite reports that women with COVID-19 have reported changes in their menstrual cycles, “more studies are definitely needed to find out why this is happening.”
Vaccination is still important. But, he he is It’s always a good idea to keep track of your menstrual cycles. It is especially wise to keep track of your menstrual cycle after vaccination. But rest assured that if you see short-term irregularities in your cycle, you don’t have to worry, says Dr. Wider. “If the irregular patterns persist, it would be wise to bring it to the attention of the health care provider.
This article is accurate to the time of publication. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolving and the scientific community’s understanding of the novel coronavirus, some information may have changed since its last update. While we aim to keep all of our stories updated, please visit the online resources provided by Center for Disease ControlAnd the Who is theand yours local public health department To stay informed of the latest news. Always speak to your doctor for professional medical advice.