Ireland’s drug watchdog says that menstrual disturbances are one of the more regularly reported suspected side effects of the Covid-19 vaccines – and they have recorded 2,684 incidences of all types of menstrual disturbances as suspected side-effects to 15 March of this year.
The HPRA Safety Update on Covid-19 vaccines dated 24 March 2022 describes menstrual disturbances as changes to normal menstruation (periods) – and says that 514 reports specifically relate to heavy menstrual bleeding (heavy periods) and amenorrhoea (missing periods) as a suspected side effect of the Covid-19 vaccines.
In relation to total suspected side-effects in the category of reproductive system, obstetrics or gynaecology events, the HPRA told Gript that this category included “all types of menstrual disturbances that have been reported i.e. heavy menstrual bleeding or missing period but also events such as delayed period, irregular period, bleeding between period (intermenstrual bleeding), painful period (dysmenorrhoea), shortened menstrual cycle (polymenorrhea), and lighter period (hypomenorrhoea).”
The total number of incidences of all menstrual disturbances as suspected side-effects of Covid-19 in that category came to 2,684.
The HPRA noted that the report includes at least one suspected side effect for a vaccinated individual. “Reports can often describe several suspected side effects for an individual, including more than one in a specific category. As such, there are more suspected side effects in the tables compared to the total number of reports received,” they said.
The European Medicine Agency’s safety committee previously reviewed reports of menstrual disturbances with COVID-19 vaccines and concluded at that time that there was not enough evidence to suggest a causal association or link, the HPRA said.
However they also note that “further assessment is ongoing following published studies suggesting there may be short-lived changes in menstrual patterns, including absence of menstrual bleeding and heavier than usual menstrual bleeding following vaccination”.
The watchdog linked to one study which found that “COVID-19 vaccination is associated with a small change in cycle length but not menses length”. Other studies have found that menstrual disturbances were temporary, but one study from Jordan suggested “a possible link between the COVID-19 vaccine and menstrual abnormalities that have impacted their quality of life.”
The HPRA said that “Women who are concerned about prolonged or unusual menstrual disturbances may wish to seek medical advice, in particular if unexpected vaginal bleeding, for example, in a post-menopausal woman is experienced.”
The Safety update said that with 7.9 million Covid-19 vaccines administered here at that point, the overall assessment was that benefits outweigh risks.