By now, we have all understood that the image circulating on Twitter and WhatsApp groups claiming menstruation and vaccination to be related was a hoax. But this is also a reality check on how many Indians to date little knowledge about menstruation. It also sheds light on how little we know about the vaccination process and how it affects our body. Despite the fact that we are living through a pandemic.
The image states that since the vaccination drive starts from 1st May, it is important to not take the vaccine if you are on your period. It also states that the vaccination should not be taken five days before or after your period. "there is high risk of attack for one who vaccinated during periods." Says the image. There is no clear logical reasoning or scientific reasoning provided for the connection between immunity, periods and vaccination.
As an educated citizen of the country, it intrigues me as to why should one share messages that have no logical reasoning to them. The pandemic of misinformation, unfortunately, spreads wider and infects more people than the pandemic of Covid-19 itself.
Surprisingly, the message for wearing a mask or maintaining social distance -- two things that could actually protect us from the virus do not have as much reach as these misinformative ones.
But considering how much we do not know about menstruation and vaccine, The Bridge Chronicle gives you a guide on understanding how the two are not related.
We spoke to Dr Vidya Bandukwalla a gynaecologist to answer all our questions related to periods, vaccine and immunity.
By now, we know that the message circulated based on vaccine and period was fake. Could you explain to us how period and immunity are related/not related?
The immune system is not related to the process of menstruation. Both function independently in the body.
Could you give a basic explanation of why do women menstruate?
Menstruation is a normal monthly cycle that every woman experiences. Every month, a women's body prepares for pregnancy, failing which you get vaginal bleeding. It is a cyclical phenomenon and it means shedding the lining of the womb that was preparing to accept a pregnancy. Of course, it is hormonally driven so can vary in its interval from woman to woman.
What bodily changes occur during vaccination?
Vaccination is developing protection by inducing and triggering your immune system to fight an infection caused by bacterias/viruses. It is made of microorganism/viruses in a weakened, live or killed state to get the right immune response from the human body once injected. So that the body forms a proper defence mechanism to fight the infection caused by the microorganism/virus and can get rid of the infection or have just mild symptoms.
What bodily changes occur during menstruation?
There are no major bodily changes seen during menstruation, it is a normal physiological process of shedding your lining of the womb.
Can menstruation in any way affect the bodily changes after vaccination?
The reproductive system does not in any way work for or against the immune system, yes in certain immune system conditions pregnancy can have problems.
This shows that we are still falling prey to misinformation about menstruation, what would you tell the girls of our country?
Half knowledge is no knowledge, we should refrain ourselves from such post. our Doctors are doing a great job to save lives and at any point, if the vaccine was harming women in their menstrual phase. the message would have been loud and published in all newspapers too.
Additionally, Dr Alexandra Alvergne an associate professor of anthropology at Oxford explained that the "menstrual cycle is itself a cycle of immunity. The immune system is suppressed during ovulation to allow sperm to enter. It then kicks in again to shed the lining of the uterus. It makes sense, therefore, that our health would be affected by these changes."
"The whole function of the menstrual cycle is to produce cyclical patterns of immunity so actually we would be better to think of female health as cyclical," says Dr Alvergne.
But this does not mean that taking the vaccine will cause us to fall sick since the vaccines essential job is not the introduce a virus into the body. But only a part of it.
Instances such as these are an example of how much we need to understand our body and stay aware un extremities such as the pandemic.