"it was confusing, painful, traumatic."
Covid-19 is reportedly affecting the menstrual cycle and leaving long term effects upon female patients.
Dr Sumaiya Shaikh, a neuroscientist had previously taken to social media to share her experience and discuss the lesser discussed basic health issue of women.
She shared her experience of the menstrual cycle during and after recovering from Covid-19. She said:
“Not only did the onset of menstruation trigger a longer low, motivation less, energy less phase (severe depression), what I really started to notice was the length and amount of the menstruation.
“And the occurrence of blood clots that lasted for days.”
She went on to say:
“My body flushed chunks of blood, in clumps, some purple, some attached to a membrane.
“For days, it was confusing, painful, traumatic.”
But it didn’t end there!
In the garb of a menstral period, my body flushed chunks of blood, in clumps, some purple, some attached to a membrane. For days. It was confusing, painful, traumatic.
Worried, I read endlessly to find many blogs, FB group with same experiences. 14n
— Dr Sumaiya Shaikh (@Neurophysik) July 8, 2020
Dr Shaikh said that upon research, she found that many other women had shared their abnormal menstrual experiences related to Covid-19.
One teacher, who got infected in August 2020, said she did not get her periods on time that month.
The problem continued even after recovering from the virus. Her periods get delayed every month now. She says:
“Now, my periods are usually delayed by 10 days and beyond.”
Another similar case was shared by a student named Muskan Arora.
Muskan tested positive for Covid-19 during her menstrual period. She shares her experience:
“Since I already had a fever and was weak, my periods were very painful with the irregular flow.
“But after testing positive for Covid, I got heavy flow on the first day, hardly any flow on the second, and then the third day was the heaviest, which is unlike my usual cycle when I often have heavy flow on the first two days and it gets lighter thereon.”
Mentioning the post-recovery periods, she said that she didn’t get her period the following month.
However, experts have not linked the abnormality with Covid-19. Instead, they have said it is linked to the associated stress and depression.
Dr Renu Gupta, a senior consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology at Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute Delhi, says:
“Stress is directly associated with women’s menstrual patterns.
“It has so much to do with female hormones, uneven cycle, pain during periods, mood swings, unnecessary fatigue etc.
“Hence it’s not surprising if women are complaining about such experiences.”
Another expert, Dr Anubha Singh, a gynaecologist and IVF specialist from Shantah Fertility Centre Delhi, said:
“Stress itself is well-known to cause period irregularities by disrupting the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis- the hormonal system the brain uses to speak to the ovaries.
“Stress also causes hormonal imbalance and even PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) in women.
“If you had been borderline PCOS all along, this stress induced by the pandemic might push you over to the other side.”
Dr Shobha Gupta, medical director of Mother’s Lap IVF Centre, said:
“Many patients have informed us their menstrual cycles were also affected by the stress of pandemic.”
“Women, ever since the beginning of the pandemic, have shared that their periods are irregular whether or not they have been infected with Covid-19.”
Dr Sumaiya Shaikh does agree on the relationship between stress and periods, however, she still wonders if there is a link between blood clotting and Covid-19.
She elaborated on her concerns to Indian Express:
“Since Covid-19 affects many organs of the body including intestines, kidneys, walls of the artery which affects one’s blood pressure, in women, what happens is when you have inflammation in the body, the blood vessels swell up which does not let the blood release.
“We don’t have a lot of research around menstrual cycles in general.”
“And till now, Covid-19 and the menstrual cycle have not been studied, so, therefore, there is no clarity yet.”
While doctors suggest a positive outlook, healthy nutrition and exercise along with consultation and medication to tackle the irregularities of menstrual cycles, it is equally important to have proper tests carried out by medical experts to understand any link between the Covid-19 and the periods.