Doc Answers on Vaccines & Periods, Pregnancy & Infertility

“There is no evidence that vaccine administration affects fertility or miscarriage rates,”: FOGSI statement.

Updated

On 30 April, the Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Society of India (FOGSI) recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women should be administered COVID-19 vaccines. They recommended that obstetricians, gynaecologists, and women’s healthcare professionals administer the jab so as to monitor specific adverse events - although they did mention that individual medical practitioners cannot do the same until there is a change in the MOHFW guidelines.

Can you get the vaccine if you're on your period? Can you get it if you are breastfeeding? Will it affect your fertility? There are many rumours floating around, and in the midst of a COVID-19 second crisis, we speak to gynaecologist Dr Munjaal Kapadia to clear the air.

“You can absolutely get vaccinated when you are menstruating or pre-menstrual. Your period does not affect your immunity, please don’t fall for rumours and get vaccinated as soon as you can.”
Dr Munjaal Kapadia, Gynecologist, Namaha Hospital, Mumbai

The FOGSI statement added, “There is no physiological, endocrine or immunological basis for such a consideration. Women should receive the vaccine on any dayof the menstrual cycle, even during menstruation.”

Periods & Immunity

The viral claim going around is that your immunity “dips” when on your period and hence getting vaccinated may post a risk. Dr Kapadia rubbished this claim as “intended to foster vaccine hesitancy and explains,”

“Your periods do not affect your immunity. If that was the case, then you would be prone to other infections during menstruation not just COVID-19. 
Dr Munjaal Kapadia, Gynecologist, Namaha Hospital, Mumbai

But can the vaccine impact your period in any way? Perhaps by causing delayed periods, irregularities or evening stopping your period?

“No vaccine will have any effect on your hormones. If, post vaccination you have some issues with your period, have them checked out. Don’t attribute it to the vaccine. The vaccination is incidental.”
Dr Munjaal Kapadia, Gynecologist, Namaha Hospital, Mumbai

Should You Take the Vaccine While Pregnant or Breastfeeding?

Since India had not involved pregnant or lactating women in their clinical trials, the health ministry had advised against it - although recently the US’ CDC opened up their Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for the same category. International bodies are in favour of administering the COVID vaccine to pregnant or breastfeeding women in light of the ration of potential benefits to risks.

“In my opinion, it is safe and offers double protection for the mother and child. Getting COVID-19 during pregnancy or post-delivery is more of a risk than the minimal risk the vaccine poses.”
Dr Munjaal Kapadia, Gynecologist, Namaha Hospital, Mumbai

FOGSI Chairperson Dr Alpesh Gandhi added that “There is a need to prevent further waves and the vaccine is the best and long term solution to this. This protection should extend to pregnant and lactating women. The very real benefits of vaccinating pregnant and lactating women seem to far outweigh any theoretical and remote risks of vaccination.”

What’s needed is a fast-tracking of approval processes by the MOHFW to help save lives in the second wave.

As per the FOGSI statement, “There is no evidence of harm from any harm if a vaccine is administered to a breastfeeding woman. In fact, there is possible benefit from the passage of antibodies to the neonate. Breastfeeding women should be vaccinated as per the usual method and schedule of the general population.”

Should a Pregnant Woman Infected in the Past take the Vaccine?

As per FOGSI, yes. “A pregnant woman faces greater risks in pregnancy if she is infected with COVID-9 as compared to a pregnant woman not infected or a non-pregnant woman infected.” There it’s “advisable” to get vaccinated even if you had COVID-19 in the past.

Can the Vaccine Affect Your Fertility?

There are nascent rumours on vaccines and sterilization, and Dr Munjaal nips these in the bud.

“The vaccine is for your protection, it is not a conspiracy to sterilize you!”
Dr Munjaal Kapadia, Gynecologist, Namaha Hospital, Mumbai

A lot of these rumours insidiously focus on women and can foster some hesitancy, and Dr Munjaal explains that no vaccine would be approved if it had severe dangers for more than half the population.

“Please take the vaccine - any, Covaxin or Covishield - as fast as you can.”

“There is no evidence that vaccine administration affects fertility or miscarriage rates,” said the FOGSI statement.

Dr Munjaal also addressed rumours about vaccines saying that its important to realise vaccines do not protect you from getting infected but they help prevent severe disease and death. “You can still be a carrier and it’s important to mask up post-vaccination as well. You still have to isolate for the same number of days if you have any symptoms even when vaccinated but it does protect you from severe disease and hospitalisation.”

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