- The effect of COVID-19 on the menstrual cycle was not evaluated in any of the clinical trials, but researchers are looking into reports of people to determine if there’s any connection.
- A new study has found a link between the COVID-19 vaccination and increased menstrual flow and unpredictably vaginal bleeding in a few women.
- Changes in menstrual cycles indicate that they are short-lived and temporary However, women and those who menstruate need accurate information to make educated choices and, hopefully, to combat vaccination hesitancy.
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This is in part because of the inability of pharmaceutical corporations to incorporate menstrual questions in their studies to date.
Dr. Viki Male who is a lecturer in the field of reproductive immunology, at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, designed vaccine protocols for clinical trials for the Ebola vaccine. She explained the reason why not collecting menstrual data in the COVID-19 vaccine trial was an opportunity missed in an email sent to Medical News Today:
“Because clinical trials are double-blinded the most basic question of “Did you observe any changes in your menstrual flow or experience any sudden vaginal bleeding?’ have been extremely beneficial The control group is the one that we’d have a clear idea of the general rate of these changes within the population in question as well as the fact it’s blinded means that the expectation of noticing a change would not have influenced the results. In the near future, I would like to see a straightforward question like this can be routinely asked.”
“Research into the way in which the COVID-19 vaccine affects menstrual bleeding and breakthroughs has been playing catch-up because the information wasn’t obtained during the trial .”
— the doctor. Viki Male
The first research that was published with funds by the National Institutes of Health to examine a connection was published in January 2022. It revealed that vaccinations can affect menstrual women’s menses but not the length of their cycle.
A fresh study is looking not just at the changes in menstrual flow among those who have a regular cycle but also at irregular vaginal bleeding in women who used to menstruate but aren’t anymore due to hormonal contraceptives, menopause, or gender-affirmative hormonal treatment.
Finding risk factors
To find out if there was a connection between menstrual changes and vaginal bleeding that was not expected after vaccination, a group led by Dr. Kathryn Clancy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL designed a questionnaire for people who had been vaccinated but were not COVID-19-infected and took data about people’s ethnic and gender identity, age and the vaccination they received.
The lead author is Dr. Katharine Lee, a postdoctoral researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, M.O. informed the MNT during an interview they didn’t wish to delay vaccines for the students.
“We have decided to conduct this study design due to the fact that we’re strongly pro-vaccine. We didn’t intend to enroll individuals who were not vaccinated or weren’t vaccinated, or to tell people to put off getting vaccinations. We said, “As soon as you are able to receive it and you are able, you must be vaccination.”
“But what we did want to hear about was people’s experiences because of the variety of stories that came in when [Dr. Kathryn Clancy] tweeted about her period in February of last year.”
— Dr. Katharine Lee
Menstrual bleeding changes
Researchers shared the survey via Twitter as well as different social networks. They later analyzed the data from April 7 to 2021 and June 29, 2021. Nine of the 39,129 respondents identified as female and one out of 10 people identified as being gender diverse.
Participants were asked questions about their period duration and flow as well as their medical background. They were also asked about the experiences they had with their menstrual cycle following the first and the second dose of their COVID-19 vaccinations.
In the case of those with regular menstrual cycles, 42% of them reported bleeding more frequently than usual, whereas 44% said they did not notice any change after getting a vaccination.
Of the postmenopausal women who responded to the poll, 66% had bleeding breakthroughs, as did 71% of those taking long-acting reversible contraceptives, and 39% of women who are taking hormones that affirm gender.
Another study found that people with gynecological problems were more likely to experience greater bleeding following vaccination. The people who experienced the symptoms of fever or fatigue following vaccination who had been pregnant or had children or experienced the light flow of their menstrual cycle were more likely to experience more bleeding after the COVID-19 vaccine.
Hispanic as well as Latinx respondents were much more likely than other ethnicities to experience greater bleeding after vaccination in the event of regular menstrual cycles and to report bleeding that broke out in the event of postmenopausal.
“Giving voice” to the real issues
Participating in studies after vaccination may result in bias as some people were more likely to be involved in an investigation if they believe they’ve been affected by the vaccine, according to Dr. In an email.
“We can’t use this study to determine how common it is to experience a change to flow following vaccination because people who experienced a change are more likely to complete the survey, but we can look for patterns that might give us an idea of who is more at risk of experiencing changes,” she said.
Doctor. Clancy told MNT that the goal of the study was not to measure prevalence, since it is only prospective research could accomplish this. They wanted to bring attention to the difficulties people were facing in the face of ridicule and unjust treatment.
Doctor. Clancy said they aimed to “[t]ry and collect these experiences and understand them better, and give patients an actual voice in this phenomenon that they have somewhere they can share what’s going on.”