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03-02-2024

COVID vaccination timing can change menstrual cycle length

Scientists have made a significant discovery regarding the COVID-19 vaccination and its impact on menstrual cycles. Conducted by a research team from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), the study exposes how the timing of vaccination can lead to slight, albeit temporary, changes in the length of menstrual cycles.

This research builds upon previous findings by the same team, enhancing our comprehension of the vaccine’s effects on menstrual health.

How the Study Was Conducted

The study involved nearly 20,000 participants using the FDA-cleared birth control app, Natural Cycles, who agreed to share their de-identified data for research.

By analyzing this data, the team was able to compare menstrual cycle lengths among three groups:

  1. Those vaccinated in the follicular phase (the first half of the menstrual cycle)
  2. Those vaccinated in the luteal phase (the second half of the menstrual cycle)
  3. Those in an unvaccinated control group

How COVID Vaccination impacts Menstrual Cycles

Findings revealed that individuals vaccinated during the follicular phase experienced an average one-day increase in their menstrual cycle length, compared to their cycles before vaccination.

Importantly, these changes were temporary, typically resolving in the cycle following vaccination.

Dr. Alison Edelman, the lead author of the study and a respected professor of obstetrics and gynecology at OHSU, emphasized the value of these insights.

“Understanding these changes on a population level allows us to more effectively counsel patients about what to expect with a COVID-19 vaccine,” she stated. Dr. Edelman hopes the study will validate people’s experiences, alleviating any fears or anxieties about vaccination.

The research team also delves into the possible interactions between the immune and reproductive systems to explain these changes.

Although the precise biological mechanisms remain undetermined, the vaccine’s ability to elicit an immune response is believed to be a plausible cause for the observed menstrual cycle alterations.

“We are constantly learning about how our bodies work together, but we do know the immune and reproductive systems interact closely with one another,” Edelman explained.

“Based on this relationship, it is certainly plausible that individuals may see temporary changes in their menstrual cycle due to the immune response that vaccines are designed to produce.”

For individuals experiencing unexpected menstrual changes post-vaccination, this study offers reassurance.

Temporary Changes: What Women Should Expect

The findings suggest that while changes in cycle length may occur, they are likely to be minor and short-lived. However, those who notice more prolonged changes are encouraged to consult with a healthcare professional.

The need for further research is also highlighted, particularly to understand the effects of vaccination on individuals with irregular menstrual cycles and other menstrual characteristics, such as symptoms and flow.

Dr. Edelman points out the historical neglect of menstruation in scientific research, underscoring the importance of addressing the many unanswered questions people have about their menstrual health.

“Historically, menstruation has not been prioritized in scientific and medical research, which leaves individuals who menstruate with a lot of unanswered questions, especially when they are experiencing something that’s not ‘normal’ for their body,” Edelman said.

“Menstruation is a key indicator of fertility and overall health, so understanding these changes is very important to us as reproductive health researchers and to our patients,” she concluded.

Prioritizing Menstruation in Research

In summary, the research conducted by Oregon Health & Science University sheds crucial light on the slight, temporary changes in menstrual cycle length associated with the timing of COVID-19 vaccination.

Dr. Edelman and her team have given valuable insights and reassurance to those concerned about the vaccine’s effects on reproductive health.

By analyzing data from nearly 20,000 participants, the study not only confirms these changes as short-lived but also underscores the importance of further research in understanding the nuanced interactions between our immune and reproductive systems.

This work represents a significant step forward in demystifying the impact of vaccination on menstrual cycles. In addition, the team encourages individuals to approach vaccination with informed confidence, while also contributing to the broader conversation on the necessity of prioritizing menstrual health in scientific research.

The full study was published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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