RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC/WFXR ) — The COVID-19 vaccine may affect women differently. Early research shows women are reporting stronger side effects than men after getting their shots.
The CDC published a study showing out of the first 13.7 million Americans who received coronavirus vaccine doses, about 79% of people who reported side effects were women, with about 61% of the doses going to women.
Doctors say the vaccine is impacting everything from a woman’s menstrual cycle to mammograms to fertility.
She also says if you’ve got soreness or pain in your neck or armpit after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s normal.
“We really want lymph nodes to react to whenever we get a vaccine or when we get sick because that means they are keeping us well,” Dr. Shah said.
Clinical trials for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine showed 16% of women reported some sort of sign of swollen lymph nodes and the number could be higher.
WFXR’s sister station was told not every person in the trial was asked about their lymph nodes. While it’s a normal response to the vaccine, swollen lymph nodes can be a problem for mammograms and can be an indicator of breast cancer.
“It can sometimes cause some false alarm,” explained Dr. Shah.
If you can, patients are advised to get the vaccine before their routine screening or wait for a period of time after the second shot.
“Try to schedule your mammogram four to six weeks after the second dose of your vaccine,” Dr. Shah advised.
Still, Dr. Shah stresses if you notice a lump or change in your breast, do not wait to schedule that mammogram. It’s best to get that checked as soon as possible.
“People have started their periods early and it is much, much heavier,” Dr. Scott said. “Some women have reported their period is delayed.”
While it could be just the vaccine, Dr. Scott warns it could also suggest a hormone abnormality. A delayed period could be a sign of high cortisol and heart disease or diabetes. Heavy bleeding could mean high estrogen.
“High estrogen unchecked for a while can lead to an increased risk of breast and uterine cancer,” said Dr. Scott.
For fertility patients scheduling procedures like egg retrieval or embryo transfers, you are advised to avoid getting the vaccine three days before or after a procedure. That’s because the vaccine can cause flu-like side effects and make it difficult to spot post-surgical infection.