Research Reveals How The Pandemic Has Affected Periods

Covid-19 adversely affects periods. Many people have reported disruptions in their menstrual cycle, some noticing changes after catching the virus, others after vaccination. For some, the interruptions did not follow either, but were still noticeable. But before trying to determine the cause of these changes, it is important to note that people’s cycles change.Also read – Ayurveda expert shares 3 tips on how to manage thyroid problems

While it is generally suggested that an estimated 28-day cycle with five days of bleeding is normal, this is only average. For most menstrualians, this is not their reality. Indeed, menstrual bleeding length, heaviness, and cycle length vary naturally, varying between people and even over time. According to the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, a difference of up to eight days in cycle length is normal. Also read – Delhi removes covid curbs as case drops, no need to wear mask in private car | Check out the full guide

The menstrual cycle is regulated by a combination of hormones controlled by the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland in the brain along with the ovaries – collectively known as the HPG axis. Disruption in the body can lead to disruption of axon-releasing hormones, which can affect various aspects of the menstrual cycle, such as length and symptoms. Also read – If you have a history of oral cancer, take these 5 important steps

For example, heavy exercise or extreme dieting can cause periods to be missed, although this can be reversed once food intake is increased or exercise is reduced. So we need to be careful when evaluating self-reported changes in the menstrual cycle – other effects may be in the game.

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Still, something is happening, and epidemic stress may be a factor. Stress is known to suppress the HPG axis, and past studies have found a link between stress and the length of menstrual irregularities or bleeding.

We know that mental health in the UK deteriorated during the first lockdown, with increased stress and depression. And in an online survey, 46 percent said they have seen changes in their menstrual cycle during epidemics, such as the severity of pre-menstrual symptoms or the length of the cycle. Stress is understandable if there is an unproven reason.

Other epidemiological changes could also be impressive, he said. Weight gain and increased alcohol consumption, which many people also noticed during epidemics, are also known to contribute to cycle changes.

What about vaccines?

Shortly after the covid vaccines became available, reports began appearing affecting the menstrual cycle – in particular they affect the length of the cycle, making them both shorter and longer.

Unfortunately, questions about menstruation have been excluded from COVID vaccine research, including their trials, so there is no further research on how many people have experienced menstrual changes.

That said, a small number of studies have investigated this.

A US study of 4,000 people found that receiving the first dose of the vaccine had no effect on the timing of the next menstrual bleeding. But after receiving another, people experienced a slight delay – less than half a day on average. This difference disappeared with the vaccine after the third cycle.

Interestingly, those who received two doses in one cycle had their cycle length increased by two days, which became normal after the cycle three vaccination. However, it is difficult to eliminate the effects of the vaccine from the effects of surviving a stressful epidemic.
In a Norwegian study of more than 5,500 people, 41 percent of participants reported menstrual disturbances after receiving their second vaccine. But crucially, 38 percent reported disruption before receiving any vaccine, with the most common symptom being heavier than normal.

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This indicates that disruption of the menstrual cycle is normal, or if the epidemic causes a change in the cycle, the effect of the COVID vaccine is less. Both of these studies validate people’s experiences describing menstrual changes, but also confirm that these changes are transient.

There are many reasons why vaccines can affect the cycle, including the body’s immune response to the vaccine, which can affect the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. Certainly, reports of monthly changes after vaccination are not new. In 1913, a New York doctor found a link between the typhoid vaccine and the menstrual cycle. A more recent study found that the chances of a change in the short-term menstrual cycle after receiving the HPV vaccine increased.
With covid vaccines, these appear to be short-lived when changes occur, and vaccines have not been shown to affect fertility. This should probably be added to what people who are menstruating are told to expect vaccinations, so they can plan around it.

Reporting monthly changes as a side effect could encourage pharmaceutical companies and researchers to place menstrual and reproductive health more centrally in medical research, meaning we have better data for vaccines and medications in the future. Anyone in the UK who experiences a change in their cycle is encouraged to report it to the Yellow Card Scheme, noting the potential vaccine side effects.

COVID can also cause changes

It has also been suggested that in the face of a serious illness such as covid, the body temporarily reduces ovulation (which can affect menstrual bleeding), redirecting energy to reproduction and fighting infection.
Another reason may be the massive inflammatory effects of covid on the body, which in turn affect the disruption of the menstrual cycle.

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There is some data to back up with Covid’s performance. A study comparing the earlier menstrual cycles of 237 patients with covid with their cycles found that 18% of mildly ill and 21% of critically ill patients had longer cycles than before.

These changes became normal within two months of being discharged from the hospital. It therefore appears that infection with covid vaccines and coronavirus can affect the menstrual cycle, and while not definitively proven, it is plausible that epidemics also cause stress. After a few months the changes seem to be normal, but if you experience new problems in your menstrual cycle or the changes in your cycle last longer, please discuss this with your doctor.

(With PTI inputs)


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