Abigail, a 29-year-old from New York City who asked to use a pseudonym to preserve her privacy, knew to expect some side effects after she got her second Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in February. The fever, body aches and fatigue she felt were nothing surprising. But when she began experiencing heavy, “stupidly painful, debilitating” menstrual periods, she felt blindsided. “I had not heard a single person talking about it,” she says.
While scientists have not confirmed that COVID-19 vaccines can cause menstrual changes like Abigail’s, she feels confident the shot was her trigger, since she experienced something similar after a probable case of COVID-19 last spring. As of mid-April, more than 19,000 people had reported similar experiences in a University of Illinois survey. Even without scientific confirmation, their stories are drawing attention to the fact that vaccination side effects can be far more varied than what’s often discussed in the mainstream.
Side effects—while temporarily uncomfortable—are a standard part of vaccination, says Dr. Stanley Perlman, a professor at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine and a member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee. They show that the body is responding to the shot and mounting an immune response. (Perlman says he considers side effects different from serious adverse events, like the rare blood clots reported in connection with Janssen/Johnson & Johnson’s shot. Most side effects are unpleasant but normal, whereas serious adverse events are potentially fatal issues that demand medical care.)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists common COVID-19 vaccine side effects as pain, swelling or redness at the injection site; fatigue; headaches; muscle pain; chills; fever; and nausea. But that list isn’t exhaustive. In fact sheets describing each vaccine, manufacturers listed additional possible side effects—including diarrhea, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, hives, rashes and facial swelling—and noted that there could be even more side effects beyond those specified.
Menstrual changes may fall into that category, if conclusive evidence links them to the vaccines. (In statements to TIME, a spokesperson for Pfizer said clinical trial participants did not report any menstrual changes. A spokesperson for Janssen said menstrual changes were not tracked as part of its study. A Moderna rep did not return requests for comment by press time.) There have also been reports of people developing rashes and other skin conditions, like so-called “COVID …read more
Source:: Time – Health