As the UK ramps up its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, concerns over the vaccine's effect on fertility, menstruation and pregnancy continue to spiral on social media.
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Is there any truth to the suggestion that the vaccine has a harmful effect on fertility for both men and women? As cases of the Delta variant continue to rise, many have felt conflicted over the vaccine's safety despite an increase in studies suggesting the vaccine has no impact on the hormonal balance of menstruation.
There is no evidence to suggest the vaccine has an impact on fertility
The right to decide whether or not to get vaccinated is ultimately your choice. Here, Dr Shree Datta, expert gynaecologist for INTIMINA, debunks the myths on common concerns surrounding the effect COVID-19 and the vaccine have on fertility, periods and pregnancy.
Does COVID-19 have an effect on your period?
Dr Shree explained: "One study found that around 20% of women who had COVID-19 either had lighter periods or a prolonged menstrual cycle - but there's been no suggestion that this has impacted fertility in the longer term."
However, it's no secret that stress and anxiety induced by the pandemic itself can have a detrimental effect on our mental wellbeing, in turn affecting our menstrual cycle. "Massive life events can change hormone levels and worsen PMS symptoms, or influence periods," Dr Shree continued.
What effect does the COVID-19 vaccine have on your period?
There's some evidence that suggests the vaccine can alter periods - specifically, making your periods heavier, but this is considered to be a temporary symptom.
Explaining why this may be the case, Dr Shree revealed: "It's thought that vaccination stimulates the immune system which can affect the womb lining, leading to spotting in between periods or after sex, earlier or heavier periods."
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She continued: "It's important to note that avoiding vaccination due to it having a potential impact on your period may be irrelevant given the fact that having COVID-19 can also affect your period, and cause life-threatening health complications."
Does COVID-19 and the vaccine affect fertility?
Emerging evidence suggests that any impact that COVID-19 may have on hormonal balance is minimal - with no evidence of long-term influence on fertility or early miscarriage.
However, Dr Shree encourages those who are concerned to check their hormonal balance with a gynaecologist if their periods have changed in nature or timing after COVID or the vaccination.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe during pregnancy?
The national advisory group the JCVI has recommended getting the COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy, as well as declared its safety after delivery and whilst breastfeeding. "This is because it is the safest way to protect against COVID-19 in pregnancy, for both mum and baby," said Dr Shree.
Explaining the threat of COVID-19 on heavily pregnant mothers, Dr Shree continues: "Studies suggest that women who have COVID-19 at the time of delivery have a higher risk of pre-eclampsia, needing an emergency Caesarean section or having a stillbirth. Vaccinations can reduce this risk."
Vaccination is the safest way to prevent against COVID-19 during pregnancy
Some women may feel more comfortable delaying vaccination until after the first trimester in pregnancy as this is the most important for baby's development, but there's "no evidence that this is required".
Luckily, if you are trying to conceive, the evidence suggests that you do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination as there is no significant evidence that COVID-19 vaccines will affect fertility.
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