Boston researchers to study potential link between COVID vaccine & menstrual changes

NIH grants totaling $1.67 million given to 5 institutions including 2 in Boston

BOSTON — Researchers at Boston University and Harvard Medical School are among researchers at five institutions just given one-year grants to study potential links between COVID-19 vaccination and menstrual changes.

The National Institutes of Health said some women have reported experiencing irregular or missing menstrual periods, bleeding that is heavier than usual, and other menstrual changes after receiving COVID-19 vaccines.

“These rigorous scientific studies will improve our understanding of the potential effects of COVID-19 vaccines on menstruation, giving people who menstruate more information about what to expect after vaccination and potentially reducing vaccine hesitancy,” said NICHD Director Dr. Diana W. Bianchi.

According to the NIH announcement, numerous factors can cause temporary changes in the menstrual cycle, which is regulated by complex interactions between the body’s tissues, cells and hormones. Immune responses to a COVID-19 vaccine could affect the interplay between immune cells and signals in the uterus, leading to temporary changes in the menstrual cycle. Other factors that may cause menstrual changes include pandemic-related stress, lifestyle changes related to the pandemic, and infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The following institutions will conduct the research:

  • Boston University - Principal investigator: Lauren A. Wise, Sc.D.
  • Harvard Medical School, Belmont, Massachusetts - Principal investigator: Laura Allen Payne, Ph.D.
  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore - Principal investigator: Mostafa Borahay, Ph.D.
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing - Principal investigator: Stacey Ann Missmer, Sc.D.
  • Oregon Health and Science University, Portland - Principal investigator: Alison B. Edelman, M.D.

The NIH said the new projects will build on existing research studies and leverage data from menstrual tracking applications to evaluate the potential impacts of COVID-19 vaccination on menstrual health among geographically and racially and ethnically diverse populations. One project will focus specifically on adolescents.

The supplemental grants are funded by NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health.

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