After an overwhelming number of complaints from menstruating people around the world, last week a weekly peer-reviewed medical journal in the United Kingdom published a report noting that a link between the Covid-19 vaccine and menstrual changes was “plausible and should be investigated”.
Dr Victoria Male, a reproductive specialist at Imperial College London, wrote in the BMJ that there’s also evidence the immune response prompted by both vaccines and viral infections can temporarily affect menstrual cycles, “so studying these effects is important”.
Ever since the Covid-19 vaccines became widely available, people who menstruate have been sharing distressing stories of changes to their menstrual cycle following vaccination and how that has taken a severe toll on their mental health.
Vaccines are, however, safe and effective and there are overwhelming data to back that.
Dr Male said that the indications were that these changes if they occur, are temporary and harmless.
“Vaccine hesitancy among young women is largely driven by false claims that Covid-19 vaccines could harm their chances of future pregnancy,” Male wrote.
“Failing to thoroughly investigate reports of menstrual changes after vaccination is likely to fuel these fears,” she added.
“If a link between vaccination and menstrual changes is confirmed, this information will allow people to plan for potentially altered cycles. Clear and trusted information is particularly important for those who rely on being able to predict their menstrual cycles to either achieve or avoid pregnancy,” she said.
“Most people who report a change to their period after vaccination find that it returns to normal the following cycle and, importantly, there is no evidence that Covid-19 vaccination adversely affects fertility,” she wrote.
“Menstrual changes have been reported after both mRNA and adenovirus vectored covid-19 vaccines, suggesting that, if there is a connection, it is likely to be a result of the immune response to vaccination rather than a specific vaccine component,” she added.
“Vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) has also been associated with menstrual changes. Indeed, the menstrual cycle can be affected by immune activation in response to various stimuli, including viral infection: in one study of menstruating women, around a quarter of those infected with SARS-CoV-2 experienced menstrual disruption.”
But studying these effects should not be an afterthought, Male said.