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The comfortable cycle

Be calm after taking the Covid vaccine and carry on despite the challenges — your monthly period included — as immunity does not drop during the period, writes Shilpi Madan
Last Updated : 09 May 2021, 02:38 IST
Last Updated : 09 May 2021, 02:38 IST

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You are reeling under the impact of too much information from the University of WhatsApp. There are blogs galore circling the dreadful spin-off of the jab and the impact on the monthly flow, myths buffeting around thick and fast about the odds of intensifying your menses if you take the vaccine. Here’s a peep into the making of facts and fiction…

Zero impact

Dr Amodita Ahuja, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, laparoscopic surgeon and infertility specialist said, “Fear the virus, not the vaccine. There is no study done till now to evaluate the effect of the vaccine on the menstrual cycle. Nothing scientific has been proven till now. There are various factors that can contribute to heavy flow and excessive cramps during the monthly cycle. If your period happens after the vaccination, factors like stress and anxiety due to the worsening global situation of the pandemic, lack of sound sleep, exhaustion… are confounding factors during the present uncommon situation. It is absolutely false to say that immunity drops during the period as there is no scientific evidence suggestive of this. Immunisation is being done to boost your immunity instead of fighting the virus. You can take the vaccine anytime irrespective of your period. The presence of pre-existing underlying conditions like blood pressure, diabetes and obesity in some cases, might add up to an impact.”

What about women on the brink of menopause? Explains Dr Vaishali Joshi, a senior obstetrician and gynaecologist, “Most of the menopausal women are more than 50 years of age and are considered high risk for Covid-19 infection. This is mostly due to age-related comorbidities. Even menopause is not an independent risk factor if the woman is healthy and fit.”

When any vaccine is injected into the body, there is the possibility of an inflammatory response, in the form of localised pain at the point where it was administered, body ache, muscle pain, lethargy, chills, mild grade fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, dizziness and giddiness. The effect differs from person to person, in keeping with the individual immune response and health matrix. There are those who course through without any discomfort. Dr Joshi adds, “If you are experiencing body ache post-vaccination, drink plenty of fluids, keep a hot water bag handy and take a paracetamol.”

Your health matrix

“You need to understand that our mental health does have an effect on our hormones and menstrual cycle as the supreme centres which control the hormonal balance are in the brain. The pandemic has forced women to be housebound and hence outdoor physical exercises have been restricted. This has led to weight gain, triggering the hormonal imbalance. The best way to address this is to try indoor exercises, yoga or pilates which are available online. Weight-bearing exercises keep bones strong and prevent thinning of bones in menopausal women. A healthy diet helps to maintain a good body mass index and prevents diabetes, lipid problems in pre-and post-menopausal age,” explains Dr Joshi.

The flow of happy hormones helps tremendously. Focus on aspects that make you happy and stay energised throughout the day. Chatting with family and friends virtually, engaging the mind in developing new skills or hobbies keeps you mentally occupied constructively. Breathing exercises and meditation can be mood boosters too. Bring in Vitamin D through consumption of oily fish; protein-rich foods, omega fatty acids with fibre and a rich intake of leafy vegetables. “Foods rich in iron like red meat, legumes, ragi, beetroot, carrots help to replenish blood loss. The key is to drink plenty of water and maintain hydration during menstrual flow,” adds Dr Joshi.

Your usual pattern of flow stands unaffected by the vaccination process. Advises Dr Ahuja, “Stay hydrated with nimbu pani, coconut water as it will prevent cramps and headaches due to dehydration. Consume fruits and vegetables rich in water like watermelon, cucumber. Try to eat more green salads with kale and spinach as they are rich in magnesium and fob off cramps. Turmeric and ginger-infused drinks may help as they are powerful with anti-inflammatory properties and are immunity boosters too. ”Avoid spicy food, alcohol, too much caffeine intake, excessive sugars and salt. Diet and exercise are the two most important components of life irrespective of age group, whether you are entering menarche with pride or easing into menopause with dignity. These two components can also help prevent irregular and heavy periods during adolescent age groups, reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome like bloating, mood changes, cramps etc., prevent the development of the most common lifestyle disorder PCOS, and for menopausal women, reduce symptoms like hot flashes and mood changes. If you get cramps, try to sleep well and ease off work but continue to exercise, suggest experts.

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Published 08 May 2021, 19:04 IST

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