PARIS, April 4 (Benin News) –
Many people who don’t normally have periods have reported experiencing intermittent bleeding or other menstrual symptoms after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, according to new results from an online survey by researchers at Washington University in St Louis (USA) and presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Anatomists as part of the Experimental Biology (EB) 2022 congress in Philadelphia.
This study is the first to examine vaccine-induced bleeding in people taking testosterone or other hormones that suppress menstruation. The research focuses on people with different gender identities, including transgender, non-binary, and fluid.
Previous studies of menstrual symptoms related to the COVID-19 vaccine have primarily focused on cisgender (cis) women, those whose gender identity matches the female gender assigned to them at birth.
“It is important to examine the impact of the COVID-19 vaccine on menstruation and intermittent bleeding in people who are not cis women, because they are too often left out,” notes Katharine Lee, research fellow postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Public Health Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, first author of the study.
“I hope this study adds to the growing evidence that perhaps we should include periods as part of vaccine research more generally,” she continues. Our findings also underscore the importance of including people of different sexes when studying parts of biology that are closely related to sex-based reproductive physiology, such as menstruation.
Researchers have previously reported that some people with regular or predictable menstrual cycles experience changes in the timing or symptoms of their periods after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, although these changes are usually temporary and there are no there is no evidence that fertility is affected.
For the new study, Lee and her colleagues analyzed a subset of responses to an online survey about menstrual experiences after vaccination to get specific information about people who don’t habitually menstruate.
Of the more than 160,000 people who responded to the survey, researchers identified 552 people who said they used testosterone or other gender-affirming hormones and did not usually menstruate.
Most respondents (84%) chose more than one gender category, with 460 identifying as transgender, 373 specifying that they identify as male or male, 241 identifying as non-binary and 124 stating that they were ‘genderqueer’ or gender non-conforming.
A third of respondents said they had breakthrough bleeding after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, 9% said they had chest or breast pain, and 46% said they had other symptoms they would associate normally with menstruation, such as cramps and bloating. Some have reported significant negative effects on mental health in response to period symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, gender dysphoria, panic attacks, and suicidal ideation.
Clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines have generally not examined impacts on menstrual experiences. Therefore, these potential effects are not mentioned in the safety information provided to vaccinated persons.
“Hopefully discussing these results openly will let people know that this may be a side effect so they can prepare adequately,” Lee said. This is especially important as some people have described mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation as reactions to unexpected bleeding after vaccination.
Lee adds that a better understanding of the potential side effects of menstruation can help meet the needs of medically underserved populations, including people of different sexes, as well as reduce hesitancy to get vaccinated.