The need for studying COVID-19 vaccine effects on menstrual health

With the rise in the number of vaccinations for COVID-19 done across the globe, we also get to know or have ourselves maybe experienced some of the side effects of the vaccination. Sore arms, headaches and mild fevers are just some of the side effects out plenty from the vaccine, a sign that the body is building up an immune response and is fending of the coronavirus.

These are all accepted side effects that have been accepted and felt by many people around the world, but thousands of people from the USA are thinking that there may be some more side effects that we were not warned about, unexpected changes in menstrual cycle. Although many researchers and gynaecologists haven’t established an exact link yet, it hasn’t reduced the worry it is causing the people.

Kate Clancy, human reproductive ecologist and associate professor of anthropology of University of Illinois Urbana-Campaign and biological anthropologist Katherine Lee of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have collected more than 140,000 reports of people who have noticed a change in their menstrual cycle after their vaccination.

The Food and Drug Administration and all three manufacturers of COVID-19 had authorised vaccinations in the US and they have not seen any irregularities in the menstrual cycle after vaccinations. Nonetheless, the outpouring of concern and interest have increased and have pointed the blind spots of the clinical researches on the COVID-19 vaccines.

The stories collected by Clancy and Lee only showcase brief disruptions of the menstrual cycle and tends to be short-lived. After the vaccination, many people have experienced heavy flows or bleeding at an unexpected time in their menstrual cycle, known as breakthrough bleeding or spotting. Lee says that people afraid of not only having their fears and concerns dismissed, but also are afraid of the lack of proper research in these subjcts.

Both these researchers have stated that they are pro-vaccine and understand the importance of it with the seriousness of the virus and its infectious rate of spread. They want to make sure everyone is given this information as rumours of menstrual problems have fed larger conspiracies, that further undermine the credibility of the vaccine. Even if the effects and disruption to the menstrual cycle are short-term and minimal, the public do have a right to know of the sudden alteration of their cycle after vaccination.

Major health organisations have stated that an overlooked side effect is not a cause for concern. With tens of millions of people vaccinated around the globe, these multitudes of stories are just a small fraction of the people. Dr. Kathryn Edwards, a professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine works on identifying issues in regards to this. Dr. Edwards stated that clinical trials would have picked up any issues that were dangerous. But she acknowledges that it might have missed minor or rather unusual changes to the menstrual cycle.

Providing information on whether the vaccination does affect menstrual cycle is very difficult to record because it is very different from person to person and from cycle to cycle. Factors like stress and other minor illnesses also can change the time and duration of a period or the amount of bleeding. Some people have quite irregular menstrual cycles as well. Period bleeding is also very difficult to measure as “heavy” bleeding is subjective and varies from person to person.

If a link between vaccination and menstrual cycle is identified, this will allow a lot of people to plan their vaccinations and prepare for alternated cycles. Apart from these temporary menstrual cycle alterations, no other side effects related to female fertility or reproduction have surfaced. Even though this can be agreed upon, it cannot. Be stressed more on scientists to identify more side effects and results of the vaccine as a huge amount of world population is vaccinated and we are on due course to only increase the rate of vaccinations to possibly vaccinate as many people as possible. 

With all this being said, it is vital to come to the understanding that it is vital to get vaccinated. The implications of not being vaccinated fearing for temporary and treatable side effects, is very massive when considering what we all have been put through over the course of these couple of years. The safety and security that come along these vaccinations out-weigh the negatives. The vaccine has provided us with a”newfound” freedom to socialise again and being able to do the things that were our everyday norms more freely. We will have to support and encourage researchers to identify and verify a majority of common side effects that have not been addressed while ensuring the safety of us and everyone around.

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