After the COVID-19 pandemic overshadowed most of 2020, there may be a few of us who were not thrilled to learn about the development of a vaccine for the virus. Additionally, many of us may have been concerned with the speedy rollout of vaccination programs.
In mainstream media, many anti-Vaxxers have spread misinformation and also created conspiracy theories around the vaccine.
However, the data suggests hospitalization and death rates are greatly reduced among the vaccinated population.
Of course, with every vaccine, there are risks of side effects. For example, you may have heard of the potential for the COVID-19 vaccine to affect menstrual cycles. So, let’s look at the question straightforwardly: Can COVID-19 vaccines actually affect periods?
Why are people asking if COVID-19 vaccines affect periods?
As we’ve noted, pretty much any vaccine or any medication can have side effects. People who have had the COVID-19 vaccine have, for the most part, reported headaches and tiredness along with some muscle fatigue and pain at the injection site. Some women have, additionally, reported changes in their menstrual period after having their vaccine.
What kind of changes can occur?
This is an excellent question – there have been no real formalized studies into the impact of any COVID-19 vaccines on menstruating women.
The main reason for this is that women of childbearing age are under-represented in study groups. This is mainly because of the fear that exposure to an ingredient might affect an unborn, unknown child (tangentially, pregnant women are not recommended to have the vaccine due to immunosuppression resulting from pregnancy).
From anecdotal information, the effects are diverse but benign. Women who had considered themselves to be menopausal have seen a recommencement in bleeding and cramps. Women who usually have light periods have had heavier bleeding, while others have had longer periods, or missed periods, or had a longer cycle than usual.
Is this attributable to the COVID-19 vaccine?
Without formalized research, it’s difficult to say. In fact, it’s irresponsible to say one way or the other. Specifically, this is because there is no firmly established causative link. A Unfortunately, none of these have been in short supply during the pandemic.
Additionally, some women who reported changes in their periods later reported back to say that they were pregnant – which also, naturally, affects menstruation (and can cause spotting, which was another reported symptom).
Let’s be clear – with a vaccine as new as this, a disproportionate amount of the information we have on side effects comes from self-reporting. While it’s credible that the vaccine could affect periods, we can’t legitimately say how, why, or to what extent – but we can be clear that it is not a drastic effect.
Should menstruating women avoid the COVID-19 vaccine?
Taking everything into account, it’s not recommended that women should avoid being vaccinated.
Given the demonstrable impact vaccination is having on serious illness from COVID-19, a temporarily disrupted cycle is a price worth paying.
With that said, it is always worth discussing with your primary care physician before they give you the vaccine if you still have any concerns. They will be able to inform you of the specifics of any questions you may have.
If you need a COVID-19 vaccine but are unsure of whether you should get one, you have come to the right place! Consulting with a physician at PCP For Life can help you understand whether getting a vaccine is right for you. To learn more about what we can do to help or schedule an appointment, call us today at 281-968-4096.