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Answering your questions about the potential COVID-19 side effects for pregnant women

Virus Outbreak-Pregnant Women
Posted at 5:21 AM, Oct 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-04 07:04:13-04

(WXYZ) — How the COVID-19 vaccine can affect you in the long term is a huge concern, especially for women in their childbearing years.

Claims that it can affect your fertility and your menstrual cycle have been circulating on the internet for months.

Doctors who specialize in women's health have largely endorsed the vaccine, and just last week, the CDC urged pregnant women to get the shot as soon as possible.

The consensus on its safety is clear, but there are side effects that experts still don't totally understand.

There is anecdotal evidence that getting vaccinated can affect your period in the short term, but experts say the vaccine isn't designed to have long-lasting effects. That's why they've rolled out booster shots. The vaccine's job is to create antibodies, but even those can fade.

Kate Monaghan dreams of becoming a mother one day. She's an engineer by trade, but in her spare time, she runs a Facebook page dedicated to squashing rumors about vaccines.

"The information that the vaccines cause infertility is really hard to debate because it's not based in fact," Monaghan said. "It's more like somebody said that and they're telling us to prove to them that it's not true."

When the vaccine first rolled out, the CDC started what's called the vaccine pregnancy registry. It's set up to track women who were vaccinated and either pregnant or trying to get pregnant.

Using that data, they found 4,800 women had a positive pregnancy test after getting their first shot of either Pfizer or Moderna.

Dr. Betty Chu, the chief quality officer at Henry Ford Health System, said she recently discussed those results with one of her vaccine-hesitant patients.

"I explained to her that there's been lots of data. There's also been a lot of people who received the vaccine who've subsequently given birth to children, healthy children at this point," Chu said. "So I shared with her a lot of that information I think it helps reassure her, hearing it from her primary physician."

The data on how COVID-19 vaccines impact your menstrual cycle is not as clear.

One of the top health agencies in the United Kingdom found 30,000 women who experienced changes in their period after getting vaccinated.

A majority of them reported that their cycles got back on track after a month.

"I think you're right that there is no clarity on whether there is any impact on menstrual cycles," Chu said. "Again, we've been hearing a lot of anecdotal evidence, there's some information that suggests there may be some impact but there are no long-term effects."

Nurse Alyssa Stokely chose not to get vaccinated during her pregnancy. After giving birth, she had a change of heart.

"If I were pregnant now, I feel like I would get the vaccine," Stokely said. "I feel a little bit more comfortable just at the time it was so new."

Chu said hesitancy is to be expected, and she even goes as far as to say it should be welcomed.

"There are a lot of people that are vaccinated a lot of anger towards people who are not vaccinated right now, and I think some of those unvaccinated, but people on the fence are actually even afraid to ask questions," Chu said.

So, if you are on the fence, ask those questions. Monaghan says if you're vaccinated, try to keep an open mind.

"For those that are hesitant and just want a little more data, want it to be out there a little longer, kindness and patience with accurate vaccine information will slowly move the scale a little bit," Monaghan said.

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