Research to Examine Whether Vaccines Affect Menstrual Cycles

Research to Examine Whether Vaccines Affect Menstrual Cycles

As Covid-19 vaccines became more widely available earlier this year, some women and girls took to social media to describe changes in their menstrual cycles after receiving the shots, such as irregular cycles, painful periods, and heavy bleeding.

Some postmenopausal women shared their experiences of having their periods for the first time in years. Many people speculated that the vaccines were to blame.

Researchers at five institutions will now conduct yearlong studies, with funding from the National Institutes of Health, to look into any possible links between vaccination and irregular menstruation, and to help allay any fears that may prevent women from getting their shots.

So far, the evidence surrounding abnormal periods is purely anecdotal. There is no known link between vaccination and menstrual changes, and public health experts reiterate that vaccines are safe, effective, and required to end the pandemic.

However, the stories highlight a persistent data gap about reproductive health and women’s menstrual cycles that is not collected during clinical trials, including those for the Covid vaccines. There have also been no published scientific studies examining a possible relationship between the two.

“This is an important, underappreciated issue,” said Dr. Hugh Taylor, chair of the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine, who added that he has heard from his own patients about differences in their periods following vaccination.

“Many people have irregular menstruation for a variety of reasons; is this really different in people who have the vaccine, or is it just that when people have it, they attribute it to the vaccine?”

Teams from Boston University, Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, Michigan State University, and Oregon Health and Science University will conduct the research. Participants of all ages and backgrounds will be included in the studies who have not yet been vaccinated, including those who plan to get the shots and those who do not, in order to study their menstrual cycles before and after the shots.

Doctors believe that menstrual health can be a reflection of a woman’s overall health. They do, however, point out that a variety of factors, such as stress, illness, or lifestyle changes, can temporarily disrupt a woman’s period. Periods, as well as the length and flow of a menstrual cycle, vary greatly from person to person.

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Research to Examine Whether Vaccines Affect Menstrual Cycles