The Science-Based Facts About COVID-19 Vaccines, Menstruation and Fertility
June 10, 2021
If you’re a woman, you may have heard misgivings from a friend or relative about COVID-19 vaccines that focus on reproductive health issues such as menstruation or the ability to get pregnant.
In this Q and A with OB-GYN Rebecca Flyckt, MD, Division Chief, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, UH Cleveland Medical Center, she explains that there is no science to support these misgivings. Here’s what she had to say:
Q. What Are Some Worries Your Patients Share About the Vaccines’ Effect on Fertility and Menstrual Cycles?
A. There are many rumors circulating about the potential effects of COVID-19 vaccination on fertility and menstrual irregularities. While there have been anecdotal reports on menstrual cycle irregularity after vaccination, there is no high-quality scientific evidence that this is true.
Q. What Are the Facts?
A. To the best we understand, COVID-19 vaccination has no impact on monthly menstruation cycles, heaviness of menstrual flow, ability to get pregnant or quality of sperm or human eggs.
Many women normally have a few irregularly timed menstrual periods a year. When this happens in the context of a recent vaccination, it’s tempting to try to connect those dots. In reality, they are probably unrelated events.
We do know that stress, whether physical mental or nutritional, can temporarily throw off normal menstrual rhythms. We will need to evaluate this further in well-designed design trials, but currently we do not suspect a strong connection
Q. What is the Science-Based Advice for Pregnant Women or Women Trying To Get Pregnant?
The national recommendations from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) support COVID-19 vaccination, even for women trying to conceive or who are pregnant.
The way in which the COVID-19 vaccine produces an immune response in the body makes it extremely unlikely to have any unintended consequences to either male or female fertility. It just wouldn’t make biological sense for the COVID-19 to do so.
Q. What Do You Tell Women Worried About Whether the Vaccine Can Affect Menstrual Cycles and Fertility?
Ultimately, it is a personal decision that each woman/couple will need to make. That said, it is our job as academic clinicians to look at the best available science to make our recommendations. After millions of vaccinations in the United States, we now have significant experience to guide us.
Rather than look to unfounded rumors on social media, I would strongly recommend consulting with a medical professional who you trust to review the large amount of data and experience that we have now gained regarding the COVID-19 vaccine before making a decision.
Q. How Do You Combat Misinformation?
A. I think education and informed, fact-based opinion from trusted sources is the best way to counteract misinformation. What we have definitely learned over the last year and a half is that the effects of COVID-19 infection can be devastating and potentially life-threatening for a woman, her fetus and her pregnancy. Although further studies of the vaccine are certainly needed to understand it more fully, the alternative of becoming infected with COVID-19 is the more significant concern.
For most people, getting the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible is the safest choice. However, trials testing the vaccine in pregnant and breastfeeding women have not been completed. Learn more about making an informed choice about whether to get the COVID vaccine while you are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to get pregnant.