A 'small number' of post-menopausal women are reporting unexpected bleeding after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
Researchers behind the COVID-symptom tracker app ZOE are investigating whether a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can disrupt women's menstrual cycles temporarily, even if they are post-menopausal and no longer have periods.
They say 6000 women have reported unexpected or heavier than usual bleeding after getting their vaccine which is 'a small number', but enough to warrant a further study into a whether a link between the jab and changes in menstrual bleeding was 'real' or a 'statistical quirk'.
Dr Kate Clancy, a medical anthropologist based in the US, is not in menopause but she did report having an early, heavier than usual period after receiving a dose of Moderna vaccine:
She has since heard from lots of other women with similar experiences, including post-menopausal women and trans men who take hormones so don't normally have periods. Dr Clancy is undertaking her own study into a potential link between the two, and whether it should be listed as a side effect.
Now an immunologist has explained what could be going on. Dr Victoria Male, a reproductive immunologist at Imperial College London, spoke to the BBC about the close relationship between our menstrual cycles and immune systems.
She explained that there are numerous immune cells throughout the body, especially in the womb lining where they work to regulate when and how we bleed if an egg isn't fertilised.
The chemical signals released by the vaccine can temporarily impact these immune cells, causing spotting and irregular periods. Inflammation in the body, caused when the body is fighting off illness or making antibodies after a vaccine, can also affect the timing of ovulation. But she said there is no evidence that these changes are permanent or anything to worry about.
She urged women of all ages to come forward for their vaccine when they are called, explaining that the benefits of being protected against COVID-19 far outweigh any risks.
Many of these risks are completely unfounded, including claims circulating online that the jabs can cause miscarriage or long-term fertility issues. She explained there was 'masses of evidence' that this isn't the case.
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