COVID vaccines Uncategorized

COVID-19 and Periods: How The Virus Affects Menstrual Cycles

Periods are a lot to handle, with abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, fatigue, headaches, mood swings, and many more uncomfortable symptoms. It’s a whole package of discomfort and pain. The COVID-19 virus came with many struggles and varying impacts on people and their lifestyles over the past two years. While all of this was enough difficulties for anyone, it appears to be a worse case for women (physically and mentally), mainly because of periods.

Many people have reported disturbances to their menstrual cycles, some noticing changes after catching the virus, others following vaccination. At the start of the lockdown and months after, PCR home tests and COVID vaccines weren’t made widely available. As time passed, cheap PCR tests in London were more accessible.

But before determining what possibly causes these changes, it’s important to note that people’s cycles usually differ. These changes could also have a part to play in the variability of one’s period. 

Irregular periods, unusual clotting of one’s period blood or worsened premenstrual syndrome (PMS), strange amounts of clots in the menstrual discharge, and unusually large clots in the blood are some of the changes that have been observed. There could also be an increase in the severity of the COVID-19 illness around the time one’s period is due, change in the frequency, density, flow, and pain level. These are examples of the effect of the COVID-19 virus on the menstrual cycle.

While there is no definite conclusion on this subject, it has also been suggested that stress could be a core cause of the changes in one’s period. Studies show that mental health in the UK deteriorated during the first lockdown, with stress and depression rising. Also, in an online survey, 46% of people said they had seen changes in their menstrual cycle during the pandemic, such as the severity of premenstrual symptoms or cycle length. Stress is plausible if the cause is unconfirmed. Heavy exercise or extreme dieting can result in missing periods, though this is reversible once food intake increases or exercise is reduced. We, therefore, need to take care when assessing self-reported changes in menstrual cycles.

However, it’s also been suggested that in cases of severe illness, such as COVID, the body transiently reduces ovulation (which can impact menstrual bleeding) to redirect energy away from reproduction and towards fighting infection. Another cause could be the massive inflammatory effects that COVID has on the body, which in turn impacts menstrual cycle disturbances.

Shortly after COVID vaccines became available, reports began to appear of them impacting menstrual cycles – mainly that they affected cycle length, making them shorter and more prolonged. It’s difficult, though, to untangle the effects of the vaccine from the impact of living through the stressful pandemic.

Unfortunately, questions concerning menstruation have been excluded from most COVID vaccine research, including their trials, so there isn’t much research on how many people have experienced menstrual changes.  

However, vaccines could affect cycles for several reasons, including the body’s immune response to the vaccine, which can influence the hormones controlling the menstrual cycle. Indeed, reports of menstrual changes after vaccination are not new. With the COVID vaccines, when there are changes, they almost always appear to be short-lived, and the vaccines haven’t been shown to impact fertility. Doctors and other healthcare workers should perhaps add this detail to what menstruating people are told to expect from vaccination so they can plan around it.

Reporting menstrual changes as a side-effect could encourage pharmaceutical companies and researchers to place menstrual and reproductive health more centrally in medical research, meaning there would be better future data for vaccines and medicines. Anyone in the UK experiencing changes to their cycles is encouraged to report these to the Yellow Card scheme, which logs potential vaccine side effects.

It is now quite clear that COVID vaccines and infection with the coronavirus can affect the menstrual cycle, and while not definitively proven, it’s plausible that pandemic stress does too. Changes seem to return to normal after a few months, but if you experience new issues with your menstrual cycle or changes to your cycles are long-lasting, please discuss this with your doctor. 


COVID-19 and Hygiene in Public Healthcare Centres

Healthcare is a vital part of every nation’s sector. You cannot do without it. As a result, the government of every country or state makes sure to provide public healthcare facilities like hospitals, clinics, and laboratories, that can be within reach of everyone, rich or poor. But in most cases, the problem with such facilities is lack of maintenance. For this reason, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, it was even more challenging to meet the needs of these people. The number of people needing healthcare services was largely increased because many people were diagnosed with COVID-19, in addition to those with common illnesses.

Many things make healthcare centres conducive for patients, including proper hygiene. It is wrong for such a place to be unhygienic, but sadly, from the rise in the number of Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs), you can tell that is the case in some public healthcare centres.

Since the emergence of the COVID-19 virus, scientists have come up with easy ways of testing for the virus. People with access to it could run a PCR home test, a form of same-day testing for COVID-19, and they would not necessarily have to go to a clinic or hospital. As much as this eases the burden on health workers in public healthcare centres, these facilities should still be in good condition for patients with extreme cases, so they do not contract other infections.

Lack of water is a significant and prevalent cause of poor hygiene in healthcare centres. Water is needed for drinking, taking showers, cleaning floors and surfaces, washing beddings, toilets, and other things that may come up. Clean running water should be constantly available at strategic points in healthcare centres. Consumption of contaminated or unclean water can lead to waterborne diseases like cholera, so water must be properly treated. Washing of hands is one of the COVID-19 preventive measures, so the availability of clean water and soap will benefit health workers and patients.

Alcohol-based sanitizers should also be available at these centres for further hand-cleansing. They can be placed in the bathrooms, and sanitizer dispensers should be mounted indoors and at the entrance. 

Healthcare workers, visitors, and patients should strictly maintain social distance to avoid spreading the COVID-19 virus. Infected persons should also be isolated in a separate place from other patients. Proper ventilation is also necessary because it helps reduce the COVID-19 virus particles in the air. 

There should be the provision of proper toiletries in healthcare centres and also adequate maintenance of the restrooms to avoid infections of any kind.

Some hospital equipment usually shared among people, such as stethoscopes,  should be well sterilized after use with soap and water, at least. In cases of an infection outbreak, this equipment should be sterilized using detergent and hypochlorite. 

In adherence to the COVID-19 protocols, people should always wear facemasks within the clinic or hospital premises, not just in the theatres and ICUs. Security should ensure that people put on facemasks and wash their hands at the taps at the entrance一or use an available hand sanitizer一before entering the clinic or hospital. Facemasks should not only be worn to gain access to the healthcare centre, but they shouldn’t be taken off unless it is very necessary.

Many healthcare workers have little knowledge of hygiene and proper cleaning practices in healthcare centres, which is part of the problem. So, extra education should be offered on handling hospital equipment and properly cleaning hospital surroundings. It is necessary for everyone, from the highest-ranking healthcare worker to the lowest. Pathogens can be found on the most unsuspecting surfaces, like door handles, soap or sanitizer dispensers, tap handles, or computer keyboards, so it is advisable to ensure that hard-to-reach and overlooked surfaces are cleaned well. 

Cleanliness is essential within a clinic or hospital environment, so, in this pandemic period, all COVID-19 protocols must be adhered to strictly, and more rigorous practices must be implemented in public healthcare centres to ensure proper hygiene.