Vaccination and menstrual periods

Does the COVID vaccination affect menstrual periods?

In India, a mass vaccination drive is starting from the 1st of May for all citizens above 18 years old. However, a reminder message is getting viral on social media talking about COVID vaccination and the occurrence of changes in the menstrual periods. 

And, women deserve to know if they get a sore arm, headache, fever, or fatigue after the vaccine, or if there is any likelihood of menstrual changes including frequency, duration, flow, intensity, and pain level.

But, how do periods come into play? Read on the text till the end to get your facts right.

Men Vs Women Vs Vaccine

Various studies have shown that women typically mount a greater immune response to vaccines than men, which means they may feel worse after any vaccination. 

Women are experiencing more COVID-19 vaccine side effects than men, but it seems to be simply the result of their bodies’ immune response. 

It is a fact that ladies generally develop stronger immune responses, including high antibody levels and greater T-cell activation, which can lead to more rapid control of infection but may also lead to increased side effects after vaccines. 

In response to any infection or stimuli, including vaccine antigen, the immune system could theoretically impact your period and the rate of side effects too.

Periods and the Immune System

The immune system is temporarily suppressed during certain phases of the menstrual cycle, along with a greater risk of infection. This is maybe due to rising levels of progesterone, as well as changes in testosterone levels. 

Specific studies have shown that, physiologically, the parts of the brain associated with fever induction and inflammation, are the same parts of the brain that control the hormonal regulation of the menstrual cycle. 

Hormones act as signals to your brain during the menstrual cycle, and those signals can be disrupted when the body is affected by an infection or even a vaccine. And, they do have the ability to turn inflammatory responses on and off. 

Read more l Menstrual cycle and the related issues

COVID vaccination and changes in periods

Several women are indicating a change in their menstrual cycles during long COVID infection as well. 

  • A recent study published in January found that 50 of 177 patients, about 28%, with COVID-19 and menstrual records reported changes to their cycles after contracting the coronavirus. For those with the infection, 132 (75%) patients had no change in menstrual volume, 36 (20%) patients had a significant decrease in menstrual volume, and only 9 (5%) patients had an increased volume.
  • A Washington Post report from August found that several gynecologists confirmed that many of their patients are reporting skipped periods or have noticed increases or decreases in cycle length, blood volume, and level of menstrual-related pain.

Some facts

We are hearing for a long that side effects are a common and even important element of the vaccine response. In women, bleeding patterns can be an important way to understand how their immune systems are activated.

After vaccination, some women have reported late periods and heavier flows. These changes appear to be temporary, with cycles returning back to normal in a couple of months. 

There is at least some biological plausibility that you could have, you know, some change in terms of a heavier period or a lighter period for example right after getting the vaccination.

This has to do with the way the vaccine response is mounting a broader inflammatory response, possibly more so because of the lipid nanoparticle or mRNA mechanism, a researcher concluded.

When you experience fatigue, headaches, and even fevers, that is all caused by your immune system mounting a robust response to the vaccine. 

In general, women’s menstrual cycles are affected by a host of different factors, from changes in diet and exercise, to stress, to lack of sleep and some medications. 

Taking these factors into consideration, witnessing any change in the menstrual flow after the vaccine is not unusual.

The goal of getting a vaccine is for your immune system to learn how to protect yourself against COVID. The studies have not detected anything concerning safety concerns for any of the COVID vaccines.

If we find associations between certain menstrual experiences and timing of the vaccine, health history, etc, that could help clinicians advise menstruators on how to avoid or handle adverse effects.

Must read l Know more about menstrual cramps

My words

No matter whether you are on your menstrual period, you should not skip out on the COVID-19 vaccine. The existence of side effects to any treatment is not necessarily a reason to stop that treatment. 

The approved vaccines are rigorously tested for safety and effectiveness. And, there isn’t enough data available to show that the vaccine itself could impact your period. Even if there is a connection, one unusual period is no cause for alarm. 

You should consult with a healthcare professional to take necessary safety precautions if you…

  • Observe the change in your cycle continuing after a couple of months or if your period starts to be heavy enough, there may be something else at play.
  • Have any healthcare concerns regarding vaccination, or 
  • Have had a history of severe allergic reactions to vaccines.