The UK's vaccine watchdog is "closely monitoring" claims that 4K+ women have suffered period problems after receiving the COVID-19 jab. While side effects like sore arms, lethargy, soreness and muscle aches are included in warnings about potential drawbacks of receiving the vaccine, there are no warnings about period-related complications.
Nowhere are period irregularities listed as a potential side effect of vaccination, so British regulators are trying to determine whether there is actually a link between the complaints and the vaccines.
Official data obtained by The UK's Sunday Times show that the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency - better known as MHRA received 2,734 reports of period problems linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, 1,158 related to the Pfizer jab, and another 66 linked to the Moderna vaccine as of May 17.
Complaints focused on "heavier than usual" bleeding, and it's possible that this could have affected many more women who didn't think to report their issues. The majority of issues were reported by women aged between 30 and 49. ;
So far, at least, MHRA says that there's no evidence that it should add period complications to the list of side effects. That is, the "current evidence" don't suggest an "increased risk of period problems following the jab, the regulator said.
But others are calling for more data to be collected. For example, Dr. Sue Ward, vice-president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said "anecdotally some women seem to be reporting heavier periods after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine and we would support more data collection in this area to understand why this might be the case. If you do notice any bleeding that is unusual for you, we would recommend you contact your doctor."
Complaints haven't only been seen in the UK. In the US, some women have taken to Reddit to share their experiences.
Victoria Male, a reproductive immunologist at Imperial College London, said more women were likely to have been affected than the number of case reports. "It’s definitely true that not everyone will be reporting any menstrual changes they have noticed to Yellow Card [the MHRA’s scheme for people to report suspected side effects] simply because not everyone knows that it exists and that they can file a report."
Although a clear link between the COVID jab and menstrual disorders hasn't been established, "lots of people have contacted me to tell me about changes that they have noticed in their periods following vaccination," Male said. "The kinds of things they are telling me about, mostly periods that are heavier or later than usual, are very similar to the reports we are seeing in Yellow Card."
Angharad Planells,a 34-year-old from Cheltenham, said her period had been 11 days late following her second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. "My whole life I’ve been pretty regular and I track my period on an app. It was super late," she said. "When it did start, it was one of — if not the — most painful periods I’ve ever had, to the point where I felt a bit nauseous." Planells, who reported the suspected adverse reaction to the MHRA, added: "I would still have the vaccine again. I have had family members die from COVID. It’s just the lack of information out there."