Should I be worried about distortion in my menstrual cycle after vaccination?

When taking the COVID-19 vaccine jab, one may be told by health professionals the known side effects such as fever, headache a sore arm or some may even be told they would be home for at least a day after the vaccination. One is likely to win a toss that no tailored information is passed around about how it may affect women’s menstrual cycle or how it may distort the cycle.

Little studies have been done on the impact of the COVID-19 and the vaccine on certain areas of the human body including the menstrual cycle.

Initially, some pieces of misinformation were passed around that after contracting the virus and being vaccinated against it, one, especially men, is likely to become infertile. This has been debunked.

In this report, Fact-Check Ghana has compiled experts and the World Health Organisation’s views about whether the vaccines affect women’s menstrual cycle and to what extent it does.

As stated already, there are currently scanty studies about the consequences the vaccine has on women’s menstrual cycle. It’s possible that the infection itself could stress your body or disrupt hormone levels, leading to noticeable changes in your period, experts say.

Experts have indicated that the changes in the menstrual cycle may be irregular and heavier after the vaccination exercise but this may appear to be temporary with many women returning to normal patterns few weeks after the vaccination.

Reproductive immunologist at Imperial College London, Dr Victoria Male, said some post-menopausal women, and people taking hormones that stop their periods, have reported bleeding. So, she’s inclined to suspect there may be a physical reaction occurring.

The womb lining is part of the immune system – in fact, there are immune cells in almost every part of the body. Immune cells play a role in building up, maintaining and breaking down the lining of the uterus – which thickens to prepare for pregnancy, and then sheds in the form of a period if the egg is not fertilised.

Dr Male explained that after vaccination, lots of chemical signals that can affect immune cells are circulated in the body. And this could cause the womb lining to shed, and lead to earlier periods.

There is evidence from both the flu and HPV vaccines that they can affect the menstrual cycle temporarily – but there are no long-term side effects, Dr Male added.

There is mass evidence that vaccinations do not affect fertility whether in males or females.

Online news portal KOAT said it sent a mail to some of the vaccine manufacturers about the impact of the jabs on the menstrual cycle of women.

It reported that Johnson & Johnson’s response in part, said, “Menstrual changes were not tracked as an endpoint within clinical research trials for our Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.” Whereas Pfizer, which is in its phase three clinical trial, with more than 44,000 people, half of which were women, said: “abnormal menstruation or reproductive changes have not been a reported adverse event.”

Clinical Lead Physician of OBGYN Services at Presbyterian Rust Medical Center, New Mexico, Dr Claire Elliott Herrick said in an interview with the BBC the impact of the vaccine on menstrual cycle: “There is just not good information to say how common it is, and just so difficult to know if it’s actually caused by the vaccine or something else.”

She added that, if you do experience changes, they should not affect you long-term and will not have any impact on your fertility.

In her parting advice during the interview, she said if your period came late or early, heavier or lighter, or you got cramps, no need to report to your doctor. It should go back to normal after a month or so. But if this continues for more than two cycles, one is expected to see a doctor.

This report is produced under the project: COVID-19 Response in Africa: Together for Reliable Information being implemented with funding support from the European Union.

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