Covid vaccinations may increase the risk of “unexpected vaginal bleeding” several-fold in nonmenstruating women, a study of nearly 22,000 subjects has warned.
Nonmenstruating women include those who are postmenopausal, as well as those on birth control pills that inhibit ovulation and menstruation.
The study did not explore the potential mechanisms by which the vaccines might be causing unexpected bleeding.
However, the researchers have speculated that it has to do with the SARS-Cov-2 spike proteins, which the mRNA vaccines in question induce the body to produce so the immune system can make antibodies against the real virus.
It is possible, they said, that the spike proteins cause an immune response in the endometrium, the inner lining of the uterus, or alternatively from the expression of the ACE2 receptors (to which the spike proteins bind) in the same tissues.
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The study was undertaken by Dr Kristine Blix and her colleagues at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo.
They explained that, after the Covid vaccination rollout in December, reports started to come in of “menstrual disturbances at frequencies not seen in previous vaccination campaigns”.
They added: “Such events were not addressed in the preceding clinical vaccine trials.
“Spontaneous reporting systems have also received reports of vaginal bleeding after menopause — i.e. postmenopausal bleeding — following COVID-19 vaccination.”
However, they noted, “the European Medicines Agency recently decided that the product information of the mRNA vaccines — i.e. [Pfizer’s] Spikevax and [Moderna’s] Comirnaty — should be updated to include heavy menstrual bleeding as a potential side effect.”
To investigate further, the researchers analyzed data on 7,725 postmenopausal, 7,148 perimenopausal, and 7,052 premenopausal nonmenstruating women collected by two different projects being run by the institute — the “Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Survey” (MoBa) and “Senior”.
MoBa is an ongoing, nationwide health survey which recruited more than 90,000 pregnant women between the years 1998 and 2008.
Senior, meanwhile, was launched in December 2020 to study older age groups during the Covid pandemic and included around 4,814 women.
Both cohorts were surveyed about their gynecological history and experience with unexpected vaginal bleeding — twice in MoBa, in the August and September of 2021, and once in senior, in September 2021.
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The researchers found that 13.1 percent of the premenopausal, 14.1 percent of the perimenopausal and 3.3 percent of the postmenopausal women polled experienced unexpected vaginal bleeding in 2021.
Of these, around half — 55, 51 and 45 percent, respectively — reported that the bleeding occurred within four weeks of their first and/or second Covid vaccinations.
The discharge was typically characterized by all three groups as being “heavy” and longer in duration in comparison to bleeding experienced prior to Covid vaccination.
Analysis of episodes pre-and-post-jabs indicated that the risk of unexpected vaginal bleeding increased three–five-fold in nonmenstruating peri- and premenopausal women in the four weeks following Covid vaccination. For postmenopausal women, the increase was smaller, at just two–three times.
Further studies, the team cautioned, will be needed to confirm the findings.
Unexpected vaginal bleeding after menopause can be a sign of serious medical issues — such as endometrial cancer as well as precancerous lesions.
Professor Kate Clancy is a biological anthropologist at the University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign who was not involved in the present study, but has undertaken research which has produced similar results.
She told Nature News: “Postmenopausal bleeding is often very concerning and a possible sign of cancer.
“Knowing a patient’s vaccination status could put their bleeding incidence into context.”
She added that vaginal bleeding patterns need to be monitored in the clinical trials of vaccines in the future.
The full findings of Blix et al.’s study were published in the journal Science Advances.
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