Do COVID-19 Vaccines Affect Menstrual Cycles?
There have been accounts of different side effects such as fever, itching, redness, and swelling after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Recently women have reported mild to sporadic changes with their menstrual cycles giving testimonies of having hemorrhagic bleeding with clots, missing periods, and heavy periods after completing COVID-19 vaccinations.
While it has yet to be proven of any connections with irregularities on a women’s menstrual cycle after having vaccinated, Alice Lu-Culligan, an M.D. and Ph.D. student at Yale School of Medicine, and Dr. Randi Epstein, a writer in residence at Yale School of Medicine explained that “that there are many reasons vaccination could alter menstruation.”
The two doctors added that “vaccines are designed to ignite an immune response, and the female cycle is supported by the immune system, so it’s possible, vaccines could temporarily change the ordinary course of events. Menstrual cycles also involve the immune system, as “the thickening and thinning of the uterine lining are facilitated by different teams of immune cells and signals moving in and out of the reproductive tract.”
“In terms of why women would have a heavier cycle, I think clearly we don’t know the answer to that,” Dr. Heather Huddleston, a reproductive endocrinologist at University of California, San Francisco, explained to ABC7News.
“With the usual symptoms one experiences after vaccination, "It's very possible that just the stress or maybe disrupted sleep or potentially some disrupted body temperatures, all of those things could have led to something in the menstrual cycle getting a little thrown off for a month,” Huddleston added.
Huddleston emphasized that there is no definite link yet with menstrual cycles and the vaccine. “However, we do know in addition to hormones being really important in a menstrual cycle, that there is a role for the immune system in the uterus. If there are changes, perhaps due to a vaccine maybe that would subtly affect the behaviour of the immune system in the uterus,” she added.
COVID-19 vaccines cause immune responses to create antibodies, just similar to how COVID-19 infection affects your body. There is a study that tackles about COVID-19 infection and what it does to your menstrual cycle. “Analysis of Sex Hormones and Menstruation in COVID-19 Women of Child-Bearing Age” focused on women in China who were infected with COVID-19 and the effects of the infection including their menstrual cycles.
Out of the 177 respondents on the study, 45 (25%) of the patients presented with menstrual cycle changes after having COVID-19 infection; and 50 (28%) of them had a change in their cycle specifically decreased volume and prolonged cycle.
Fertility Specialist Dr. Natalie Crawford said “If a quarter of women who get COVID are experiencing menstrual cycle changes, it is most likely from a cellular immunity response. It would not be surprising if women experienced this from the vaccine as well, as it causes a similar immune response.”
Experts suggest to seek consultation if women feel changes in their menstrual cycle after completing COVID-19 vaccinations.