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CHENNAI: Hidden under the clamor for booster doses of coronavirus vaccines is a health issue that women have raised across the world: significant changes in their menstrual cycles after taking the vaccine. With a few international organizations only now launching research on the subject, affected women have received little reassurance or support from the medical fraternity.

TNIE spoke to 25 women in the 20-30 age group across India. Fifteen of them said they experienced changes in their menstrual cycles after taking the vaccine.

While the nine women who received Covishield reported heavy flow, terrible pain, and delayed cycles, the six women who took Covaxin reported prolonged periods.

While gynecologists interviewed by TNIE in Chennai dismissed these concerns, internationally there has been a call for more research, with an editorial in the British Medical Journal in September demanding that the phenomenon be investigated.

Illustration: soumyadip sinha

It would be a relief for Monica Sethiya (24) who was puzzled to have her period delayed after receiving the first dose of Covaxin.

“After the second dose, my period was 47 days late,” she said, adding that her period usually follows a 28-day cycle.

Likewise, Rekha *, whose cycle typically lasts 30 days, had her period delayed by more than 45 days for two consecutive cycles after taking Covishield.

Nandini *, who took Covaxin, had a very different experience.

“I was diagnosed with PCOS and haven’t had a period since 2019. I have had all kinds of treatments but to no avail. After receiving the two doses of Covaxin in July, I had my period but the bleeding lasted for about a week and the pain was unbearable. It has been two months now and my period has not returned.

Of 15 women who experienced changes in their cycle, seven said their periods returned to normal after two cycles while the rest saw gynecologists with unfortunate results, in some cases.

For example, Nichaela Shammah (23), who had very regular cycles, was diagnosed with PCOS when she informed the gynecologist about the changes after receiving the vaccine.

“The doctor denied any connection to the vaccine and instead prescribed oral contraceptives and exercise for PCOS,” she said.

Rekha also raised her concerns with a gynecologist, but referred them.

“The gynecologist has denied any connection to the vaccine, possibly to avoid contributing to reluctance to the vaccine. But I would have felt better if they had given me all the information so that I could be better prepared.

Yet the Indian government has recorded at least some of these problems.

A monthly Serious Adverse Events After Vaccination (AEFI) report from the National AEFI Committee dated September 14 lists the case of a 22-year-old woman hospitalized with a delayed menstrual cycle after taking Covaxin, calling it “coincident” event. .

TNIE has found doctors in Chennai inclined to categorically deny any connection to vaccines.

“I’m surprised people are going through these changes. This is the first time I’ve heard of this, ”said Dr S Vijaya, director of the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Kauvery Hospital’s senior family doctor, Dr Kavitha Sundaravadanam, said: “There is no evidence to be based on and no known side effects like this either.”

She attributed the changes to mental stress from the pandemic and the “bad way of life,” adding that with more patients getting regular check-ups, these changes were noticeable.

The Deputy Director of ICMR, National Institute of Epidemiology, Dr Prabhdeep Kaur also said she was not aware of such cases and added that these aspects are being explored in clinical trials.

However, she said, if a large number of women report this, a systemic investigation can be conducted.

In late August, the US National Institutes of Health did just that, granting $ 1.67 million to researchers to study potential links between Covid-19 vaccines and menstrual changes.

As Dr Victoria Male said in the BMJ editorial, “An important lesson is that the effects of medical interventions on menstruation should not be an afterthought in future research.”

american study

Researchers from several universities, including Boston University, Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins University, have been asked to study potential links between Covid vaccines and menstrual changes.

* Name changed