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COVID-19 vaccine unlikely to impact menstruation: expert

Last Updated Apr 18, 2021 at 3:48 pm PDT

Syringes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine sit in a tray in a vaccination room at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Summary

Changes to the menstrual cycle during the pandemic could be linked to stress: expert

One doctor says there's noting to suggest immune changes post-vaccine would impact women's periods

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — In light of reports that COVID-19 vaccines are impacting menstruation, one expert weighs in saying it’s just too soon to attribute a change in your period to getting the shot.

Dr. Jerilynn Prior, with the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research at UBC, says it’s highly unlikely that getting vaccinated would have an immediate effect on one’s menstrual cycle.

“I’ve spent 40 years studying women’s menstruation and I don’t understand any probable mechanism by which a short-term change in menstrual flow would be a response to getting the immune changes related to COVID vaccine. So I think what’s happening is people … commonly assume that things that happen around the same time are causally related.”

Some of the changes reported include irregular periods, spotting, and heavier flows than usual but Prior says the stress of the pandemic can result in changes to menstrual cycles, and the sense of relief one may feel after getting vaccinated could also be a factor. Additionally, women in their 30s and 40s can experience changes linked to perimenopause.

However, Prior says she believes scientists should start studying how the virus and the pandemic may be affecting menstruation “so we can get some data.”

“As far as I can see, there’s only one paper about what happens to women’s menstrual cycles when they are sick with COVID. And that was a study way back a year ago from when Wuhan hospitalized women. And that study shows us that more of those women that had cycles that were longer than normal and longer than their usual. Also they were more likely to have very irregular cycles.”