The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of people worldwide, causing a significant number of deaths and severe illnesses. To mitigate the impact of the virus, vaccination campaigns have been launched globally, offering protection against severe COVID-19 and reducing the spread of the virus. However, there has been some concern among women that the COVID-19 vaccine may affect their menstrual cycles. A new study published in the British Medical Journal and conducted by researchers from the Swedish Medical Products Agency aimed to explore this issue and provide clarity.
The study analyzed the medical records of almost 3 million Swedish women between the ages of 12 and 74, examining the association between COVID-19 vaccination and menstrual changes. The researchers looked at premenopausal and postmenopausal women to determine if the vaccine affected their menstrual cycles or bleeding risk. The study found weak and inconsistent associations between the COVID-19 vaccine and healthcare contacts for bleeding in postmenopausal women. There was even less evidence recorded of an association for menstrual disturbance or bleeding in premenopausal women.
Despite earlier research that suggested a link between the COVID-19 vaccine and changes in menstrual cycles, this new study comes to a different conclusion. The earlier research had certain limitations, including a limited pool of participants and not controlling for other factors that could impact menstrual irregularities, such as stress, depression, and COVID-19 hospitalization. However, this new study has a large pool of participants, and the data is free of bias.
According to Dr. Jennifer Wu, an OB/GYN with Lenox Hill in New York, “There is an association, and it’s weak, and I think that it seems to be less dire than the information we got out of the United States.” The study’s results suggest that people should not be discouraged from getting the COVID-19 vaccine because of menstrual irregularities.
Menstrual irregularities refer to changes in the length of the menstrual cycle, or the gap between periods, causing periods to come early or late. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days, but it can be shorter or longer than this, depending on many factors. Hormone imbalances, medical conditions such as endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disorder, medications, and benign growths or cancer can cause irregular periods. It is not uncommon for premenopausal women to experience period irregularities.
However, the study found that the highest risks for bleeding in postmenopausal women were seen after the third dose in the 1-7 days risk window and in the 8-90 days risk window. Wu noted that “Someone who is postmenopausal and starts bleeding is much more likely to contact their doctor than someone who is young and has a bit of abnormality in their menses. In that way, I think that’s what you have to look at with the two populations. I think it’s a reporting difference.”
In conclusion, this new study finds that there is little evidence to suggest that getting the COVID-19 vaccine will lead to menstrual irregularities. It is essential to note that menstrual irregularities can have many causes, and the COVID-19 vaccine is likely not one of them. However, if women experience any unusual menstrual changes after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, they should contact their healthcare provider to determine the cause. Overall, this study provides further evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective in reducing the spread of the virus and preventing severe COVID-19 illness.