Can COVID-19 vaccines affect my period?

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FILE – In this Jan. 18, 2021, file photo, a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 is prepared at a vaccination center of the 3rd district, in Paris. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

(AP) – Can COVID-19 vaccines affect my period?

It’s not known, but researchers are starting to study the issue.

Vaccines are designed to activate your immune system, and some experts have wondered if that could temporarily disrupt menstrual cycles.

So far, reports of irregular bleeding have been anecdotal. And it’s hard to draw any links to the vaccines since changes could be the result of other factors including stress, diet and exercise habits. There’s also a lack of data tracking changes to menstrual cycles after vaccines in general.

If scientists do eventually find a link between the vaccine and short-term changes in bleeding, experts say that would be no reason to avoid getting vaccinated. “The benefits of taking the vaccine certainly way outweigh putting up with one heavy period, if indeed they’re related,” said Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a gynecologist and a professor at the Yale University School of Medicine.

Researchers recently launched a survey to begin gathering data. The findings won’t determine whether there’s a relationship between COVID-19 vaccines and menstrual changes, but could help form the basis for further research, said Katharine Lee, one of the researchers, who is based at Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. Jen Gunter, an obstetrician and gynecologist in the San Francisco Bay Area, said a link is possible, since the uterine lining, which is shed during menstruation, contains immune cells that help protect the uterus.

There’s no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, affect fertility, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

What else should I know about the vaccine?

There have been a lot of questions about the vaccine and what you can do before or after getting your shot. Here are a few frequently-asked-questions, answered:

Can I travel again after getting the vaccine?

If you have been fully vaccinated, the CDC says you can resume travel at “low risk” of getting or spreading COVID-19. Because of this, those who are fully vaccinated with either the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine can travel safely within the U.S. without getting tested before or after travel – unless their destination requires it – and they do not need to self-quarantine.

How long will the vaccine protect me?

New research suggests the protection the Moderna vaccine gives against COVID-19 lasts for at least six months. Research on the Pfizer vaccine has found the same results. Both vaccines have only been available in the U.S. for six months.

Can I take medication before getting the vaccine?

The CDC recommends that people avoid pain medicine like Tylenol or Ibuprofen prior to getting the vaccine. The chance that over-the-counter medications will affect your immune response is unlikely, the Utah Department of Health says, but it is still not known for sure if they can impact the vaccine’s effectiveness.

Can I drink alcohol after receiving the vaccine?

While there is no firm answer, most health officials advise against drinking alcohol because of the symptoms that may occur after you get your dose.

Ultimately, while having a drink after getting either of your doses won’t make your recovery any harder, health officials agree that, instead of having alcohol, you should focus on staying hydrated and taking care of yourself in case of symptoms of the vaccine.

Why does the second COVID-19 vaccine dose have more side effects than the first?

It’s widely known that the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccines tend to come with more side effects than the first, including tiredness, headaches, chills, fever, nausea and muscle pain. With the first dose, your body begins building its initial immune response, including producing antibodies.

But with the second shot — a.k.a. the second exposure to the virus — “the big guns” of your immune system react.

How long should I wait to get the vaccine after having the virus?

According to Jenny Johnson, Public Information Officer with the Utah Department of Health, people who have had COVID-19 can safely be vaccinated.

The only “rule” about being vaccinated after being infected with the virus, she says, is that people must have completed the quarantine period and be symptom-free.

“There is no reason why someone should not get the vaccine after being infected,” Johnson says.

Can I donate blood after receiving the vaccine?

You can, but the American Red Cross says it is important to note which type of vaccine you got.

What should and shouldn’t I do after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?

Do you continue to social distance and wear a mask? And when does immunity set in?

The Utah Department of Health provided ABC4 some guidelines.

I missed my second COVID-19 shot – now what?

The appointment is scheduled, and you missed getting it! What do you do now? Will you have to take two more shots? Probably not. Here’s what the Utah Department of Health says:

“You should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 1-month interval as possible. However, there is no maximum interval between the first and second doses for either vaccine. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval.”

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