Do Covid-19 vaccines affect menstruation?

The Claim: Claim: Covid-19 vaccines alter women’s menstrual periods.
The Verdict: claim verdict

Claim: Covid-19 vaccines alter women’s menstrual periods.

Researchers are now investigating the impact of Covid-19 vaccines on women’s menstrual cycles after thousands of women in the United States reported changes in their monthly periods after vaccinating

Menstruation, or a period, is part of a woman’s monthly reproductive cycle.

After receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, some women said their periods were disrupted with some experiencing ‘heavier, earlier and more painful periods.’

However, this side effect is yet to be reported in Zimbabwe, as local health officials have not received such reports, which was attributed to women not reporting this ‘occurrence.’

To understand more on Covid-19 impact to menstruation, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States has invested a total of US$1.67 million to investigate and research more on this claim.

One of the leading global health centres, the Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics is one of five institutions selected by the NIH  to conduct research to explore the potential impacts of COVID-19 vaccination on menstruation.

Lead investigator and Associate Professor of Gynaecology and Obstetrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Mostafa Borahay, was reported saying there could be several reasons why women might experience abnormal periods or heavy bleeding that was unusual.

“This research will help us better understand if there’s a real link between the Covid-19 vaccines and these menstrual changes, or if it’s something else, such as lifestyle changes or pandemic-related stress.”

Borahay’s team hypothesised that the vaccine immune response may bring immune cells into the woman’s endometrium (uterus), which the researchers think may result in the menstrual irregularities being reported.

“If there’s a relationship between the Covid-19 vaccines and the menstrual changes, we need to know how it happens.  Therefore, we plan to examine the response of the endometrium to the Covid-19 vaccination at the biological level,” he was quoted.

The US$1.67 million is broken down into five one-year grants and is funded by NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health.

Director of the NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which is funding the research along with the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health, Diana Bianchi, said the “rigorous scientific studies” will improve understanding of the potential effects of Covid-19 vaccines on menstruation.

Bianchi was quoted saying the research would give “people who menstruate more information about what to expect after vaccination and potentially reduce vaccine hesitancy.”

In an interview with CITE, Bulawayo Health Services Director, Dr Edwin Sibanda said his office had not received such reports but would make a follow-up.

“What we do when we receive reports of after-effects is we take them to the Medicine Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) who will look at the claims. They may dismiss the claims or communicate if they are true,” he explained.

Dr Sibanda encouraged people who have been vaccinated to report any unusual effects they observed after being vaccinated so they could document them.

“We encourage people that whenever they are vaccinated they must come to us and report the full details. They must not lie because we have had cases of reported rashes that are unrelated to the Covid-19 vaccines,” said the health official.

“There are some who, after having experienced headaches, Blood Pressure or vomiting after eating stale food will want to attribute that to the vaccine. We had one case of someone who came in saying they developed Chickenpox but it was not related to the vaccine, probably at home there was someone who had Chickenpox and was infected from there.”

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