Keeping you and your family safe is an all-time high priority as we head into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic. This month, we sat down with Board-Certified Dr. Dani Steininger to clear the air about women’s health and options for staying safe during this unprecedented time.
Ashley: Can the COVID vaccine interfere with hormones?
Dani: In the short term, the vaccine can cause hormones to fluctuate. If you receive your vaccine around the time you ovulate, your next period may be later or heavier than usual. A recently published study found most women’s periods were just a day or two late and returned to normal in one or two cycles. There’s no evidence that there are any long term effects on hormones or fertility.
A: Does contracting COVID-19 change the menstrual cycle?
D: Any stressful event can throw off the timing of a woman’s ovulation. This can result in skipped, late or heavy periods. The more stressful the event, the greater the change. In my experience, the change in a woman’s period seems to be proportional to how sick she was. I have also noticed that COVID has had more of an effect on menstruation than I have seen with other viruses in the past.
There are limited studies on this so far, but I look forward to having more statistics on this in the future. Any period changes after having COVID usually resolve after two to three months. Call us at (972) 542-8884 if your symptoms persist beyond three months.
A: Which vaccine is the safest?
D: For our patients who are premenopausal, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the best options. For our patients who are postmenopausal, all vaccines are low risk. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been associated with very rare cases of Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) which can cause blood clots. Most cases of TTS after the J&J vaccine have been in women under the age of 50 and premenopausal. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have a rare risk of Pericarditis and Myocarditis, but this is mostly in young men. For all of these vaccine options, the risk of death or hospitalization in adults from complications of COVID are higher than the small risks of the vaccine.
A: Should you delay getting a mammogram because you’ve just been vaccinated? Should you delay getting vaccinated because you’re on your period?
D: COVID vaccines have been associated with a temporary swelling of lymph nodes as part of the immune response that typically lasts 4-6 weeks. Swollen lymph nodes can look like cancer on a mammogram and may lead to unnecessary further imaging or biopsies. Be sure to wait six weeks after receiving your COVID vaccine before getting your annual mammogram. However, I do not recommend you delay your vaccine because of your period.
A: Should women who are trying to conceive get the vaccine?
D: If the goal is to protect yourself and your future child, get vaccinated. Women who are pregnant and contract COVID-19 are more likely than non-pregnant women to suffer from severe illness. An unvaccinated pregnancy puts mom and baby at an increased risk of being hospitalized. Babies born to unvaccinated mothers are more likely to be born premature, underweight and spend time in the NICU. Vaccination reduces the likelihood of contracting COVID-19, being hospitalized from the virus and reduces the risk of death.
A: How come I know people who are vaccinated and still contracted COVID? Doesn’t that mean the vaccine didn’t work?
D: The vaccine lowers a person’s chances of getting symptomatic COVID, but more importantly, it decreases the chances of severe illness. It’s like wearing a seatbelt. If a person’s in a car accident and suffers whiplash, we don’t say the seatbelt didn’t work; the seat belt probably prevented a more extensive injury. The same is true here. Get vaccinated to lower your risks of ending up in the hospital or not coming off a ventilator.