- Updated September 2021 -
The common side effects mentioned widely after having the Covid-19 vaccination are a sore arm, fever, fatigue and myalgia. However, there is no mention on the possible link between changes to your menstrual cycle and the Covid-19 vaccine.
Nevertheless, primary care clinicians and those who work in reproductive health in the UK have been increasingly approached by women experiencing period changes and unexpected vaginal bleeding, states one report from the UK's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
It is documented in this report that more than 30 000 women reported experiencing period changes and unexpected vaginal bleeding after taking a Covid-19 vaccine, and these events have been recorded in the MHRA's yellow card surveillance scheme for adverse drug reactions by 2 September 2021 across all the Covid-19 vaccines that are currently offered in the country.
According to this report, those who reported a period change after vaccination also noted that the period returns to normal in the next menstruation cycle.
Although such a report exists, it is maintained in this report that there is no evidence that Covid-19 vaccination adversely affects fertility.
Also, the MHRA states that the evaluation of the yellow card reports does not support a link between menstruation and Covid-19 vaccines since the numbers are relatively low on the number of people vaccinated or the number of people who had menstrual disorders in general.
There has been a growing interest in the link between menstrual changes and Covid-19 vaccines from the public amid concerns that the Covid-19 vaccine impacts fertility.
So far, no studies have offered conclusive evidence of the possible link between vaccines and changes to the menstruation cycle, although one US body has stated that menstrual changes after getting the Covid-19 vaccines could be attributed to immune responses to the vaccines and their impact on the uterus, pandemic related stress, lifestyle changes and contracting the coronavirus.
But due to public interest in the United States, their National Institutes of Health has offered $1.6 million (around R22 898 350,00) in funding to five researchers to investigate a link. They hope to publish findings in 2022.
Read: Pregnancy and Covid-19 vaccine safety: These are the facts
The infertility myth is another reason women are scared of the vaccine, but researchers assure us that there is no evidence of vaccines causing infertility.
Parent24 interviewed Dr Lizle Oosthuizen, a gynaecologist and fertility specialist at Cape Fertility in Cape Town, who assured us that "We don't have evidence of a link between a change in the menstrual cycle and the vaccines available in South Africa."
We also wrote to Popo Maja, the Department of Health's spokesperson about the connection of Covid-19 vaccines with menstrual cycles.
He told us, "There is nothing that was brought forward to the attention of Health authorities in this regard." He added that as the department "[we] regard this as part of the misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines."
Also read: Does my child have Covid-19? Warning signs and symptoms in children
In the video below, Dr Soumya Swaminathan was asked whether people who are menstruating should take the vaccine.
Her reply was that "there is nothing scientifically to really come in the way of a menstruating woman taking the vaccine, apart from the fact that, you know, she may feel a bit tired, but if that's the date on which you have a vaccine appointment and you happen to have your periods, there's absolutely no problem in going ahead and getting the vaccine."
Covid-19 Vaccine interference with fertility
Swaminathan also addressed the myths and misinformation around vaccines and infertility.
She says, "Yes, it's a common myth. And I should start by saying that there is absolutely no scientific evidence or truth behind this concern that vaccines somehow interfere with fertility, either in men or in women, because what vaccines do is they stimulate an immune response against that particular protein or antigen of that virus or bacteria."
"So in this case, the Covid-19 vaccine stimulates both antibody response and a cell mediated immune response against the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. So, there is no way in which they could interfere with the functioning of the reproductive organs in either men or women. So, I think people can rest assured that these vaccines in no way interfere with fertility," added Swaminathan.
Share your stories and questions with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous contributions are welcome.
Don't miss a story!
For a weekly wrap of our latest parenting news and advice sign up to our free Friday Parent24 newsletter.