COVID-19 vaccines and women’s health: Dispelling myths on periods, pregnancy and breastfeeding

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COVID-19 vaccines and women’s health: Dispelling myths on periods, pregnancy and breastfeeding
Representative image.BCCL
  • We spoke to Dr Vaishali Sharma, Senior Consultant Gynaecologist, Laparoscopic Surgeon and Infertility Specialist at Apollo Cradle & Milann Fertility, Delhi, to help us understand concerns and dispel the myths of taking the vaccine.
  • While our Ministry of Health has contraindicated the use of the vaccine in pregnant women, most gynaecological associations world over have suggested that since pregnancy with Covid is a very high-risk condition, it is recommended that the benefit of the vaccine should be extended to pregnant females as well.
  • While the research is limited, so far, there are no known adverse effects of breastfeeding on the child.

During these harsh times, when the dreadful Coronavirus has even reached the peak of Mount Everest, and people are so desperate for relief that they are snatching oxygen cylinders off people who have succumbed to the virus to save their kin, the vaccine is, without a doubt, the best way to defeat this onslaught.

But like with everything unknown, there is a fair bit of hesitation in taking the shot, primarily due to the number of rumours spewed all over the internet and messenger apps. Women are particularly hesitant because of its possible impact on either fertility or those expecting a child, or nursing mothers. They are wary of taking the vaccine because these supposed side effects may permeate to the child they are having or nursing.

That said, not all of the concerns women have are baseless, and some of the apprehensions people have of possible side effects may, in fact, hold ground. However, on the flip side, the impact of the terrible consequences of actually contracting the virus is right there in front of us.
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We spoke to Dr Vaishali Sharma, Senior Consultant Gynaecologist, Laparoscopic Surgeon and Infertility Specialist at Apollo Cradle & Milann Fertility, Delhi, to help us understand the concerns and dispel the myths.

Can pregnant women get vaccinated?

As such, our Ministry of Health has contraindicated the use of the vaccine in pregnant females considering the lack of studies on this. But most associations of gynaecologists world over have said that, since pregnancy with Covid is a very high-risk condition, it is recommended that the benefit of the vaccine should be extended to pregnant females as well. The Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI) has also advised that all pregnant females should get vaccinated as soon as possible.

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Personally, I would like to advise all pregnant women to take an informed decision to get vaccinated, considering the benefits of taking the vaccine definitely outweighs the risks associated with not taking the vaccine and contracting the virus. That said, it's prudent to check with your doctor before taking the vaccine because they would be best equipped to guide you, depending on your condition.

Can breastfeeding women take the vaccine?

Yes, they can. Gynaecological societies world over have said that it is safe to breastfeed. While the research is limited, so far, there are no known adverse effects on the baby. In fact, there is a passage of protective antibodies to the child, which may have a beneficial effect. However, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India is yet to make changes in recommendations in accordance with other countries associations.

There are rumours that women shouldn't take the vaccine five days before and after their menstrual cycle and not during their periods. Can you get vaccinated during this time?

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Yes, definitely. It would be best if you got vaccinated as soon as possible irrespective of your periods.

Will getting the vaccine have any kind of effect on your periods?

No, not at such. But yes, anxiety and stress can definitely make your periods irregular so be calm and relaxed and get yourself vaccinated, especially now that the vaccine is available to every adult.

Can the vaccine affect women's fertility?

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At the moment, there are no long-term studies regarding this, but scientifically it should not have any effect on the fertility of women well as men.

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