C: CDC via Unsplash

EU investigating reports of menstrual disorders after mRNA Covid vaccines

The European Medicines Agency’s safety committee has said it is reviewing reports of heavy menstrual bleeding (heavy periods) and absence of menstruation (amenorrhea) following the mRNA Covid vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. 

The probe was launched in view of spontaneous reports of menstrual disorders from women who had received either of the two vaccines, both based on messenger RNA technology. The agency said it is not yet clear whether there is a causal link.

The EMA said that menstrual disorders can occur because of stress and illness, as well as due to a range of underlying medical conditions. It added that cases of such disorders had also been reported following Covid-19 infection.

A recent study funded by the National Institute of Health, which collected data from almost 4,000 users of a smartphone app that tracks menstrual cycles, found that vaccination against Covid-19 was linked with a ‘small, temporary change’ in menstrual cycle length. In December, the EMA said it had not established a clear link between changes in menstrual cycles and Covid-19 vaccines, after a Norwegian study concluded that some women were experiencing heavier periods after being vaccinated against Covid.

The EMA’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) said it had made the decision to request an evaluation of all available data, including reports from patients and healthcare professionals, clinical trials and the published literature. On Friday, the agency said there was no evidence to suggest Covid-19 vaccines have an impact on fertility. 

In August, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded one-year supplemental grants totalling $1.67 million to five institutions to explore potential links between COVID-19 vaccination and menstrual changes.

Last month, the NIH announced “women receiving one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine during a single menstrual cycle had an increase in cycle length of nearly one day, compared to unvaccinated women.”

The Obstetrics & Gynaecology journal published Original Research on January 5, 2022, which concluded by stating, “our findings support and help explain the self-reports of changes in cycle length.”

“Individuals receiving two COVID-19 vaccine doses in a single cycle do appear to experience a longer but temporary cycle length change.

“Questions remain about other possible changes in menstrual cycles, such as menstrual symptoms, unscheduled bleeding, and changes in the quality and quantity of menstrual bleeding.”

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