Should you get the COVID-19 vaccine if you have PCOS? Recently, I’ve gotten tons of questions about whether it’s safe to get the COVID vaccine if you have PCOS. Here’s what we know about PCOS and Covid vaccine so far…
Women with PCOS are more likely to get COVID-19
Women with PCOS are 51% MORE LIKELY to get COVID-19 compared with age matched controls.
- In a UK study of 21,292 women with PCOS and 78,310 age-matched controls, COVID-19 incidence was 18.1 per 1000 in PCOS vs 11.9 without PCOS. (Source)
- Up to 75% of people with PCOS have insulin resistance; other factors which may make infection more likely in this population include gut microbiome alterations, high insulin, immune system activation, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and inflammation (Source)
- Another hypothesis is that the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) overactivity, more common in PCOS and linked to high blood pressure, may increase risk for infection (Source)
Women with PCOS are at higher risk for SEVERE COVID-19
There are several factors that increase the risk for severe COVID-19 which overlap with PCOS. These are: type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, metabolic syndrome, high cytokine levels (inflammation), high androgen levels, and low vitamin D levels. (Source, source)
- Vitamin D deficiency, common in PCOS, is a known risk factor for severe COVID-19 infection. Women who are obese with vitamin D deficiency may be at even highest risk (Source)
- High androgen levels increase risk for severe COVID-19 infection. High androgens (testosterone, DHE, DHT) are one of the diagnostic criteria of PCOS (Source)
- A study in mice with high DHT suggests PCOS may worsen heart, kidney, and gastrointestinal risks with COVID-19 infection (Source)
Pregnancy increases risk for severe COVID-19 and pregnancy complications
Pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk for severe illness, preterm birth and other adverse pregnancy outcomes vs non-pregnant people (Source)
- People who are pregnant are at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 infection compared with non-pregnant people (severe illness = hospitalization or ICU admission).
- Underlying medical conditions and advanced maternal age (≥25 years old) can further increase the risk for developing severe COVID-19.
- COVID-19 infection increases the risk for preterm birth and other poor pregnancy outcomes (such as miscarriage, stroke). Presence of high fever increases risk of harm to the fetus.
- The CDC now recommends vaccination in ALL people 12 years and older, including those who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant now, might become pregnant in the near future, and breastfeeding (and there’s evidence you can pass protective antibodies to your baby if you’re breastfeeding) (Source)
What I see in my practice…
- Women with PCOS who have gotten COVID-19 are dealing with long-term symptoms that make it more difficult to manage their PCOS, including sleep disturbances, extreme fatigue, hair loss, shortness of breath, exercise intolerance, and appetite changes.
- With every client I have worked with who has gotten COVID-19, we have had to put PCOS treatment ON HOLD just to get them back to baseline.
Key Takeaways on PCOS and COVID Vaccine
I know it’s scary and that there are a lot of unknowns about the vaccine. But what we DO KNOW about COVID-19 infection, PCOS, and pregnancy is even scarier.
With the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine receiving FULL APPROVAL from the FDA in August 2021, the comfort level around the safety of the vaccine should be increasing.
So, hopefully the FDA approval helps alleviate some of your concerns, especially when you consider that many of the experimental treatments that are being used are not FDA approved. (On that note, PLEASE do not take dangerous veterinary medicines!)
I hope that this information coming from a licensed, credentialed healthcare practitioner is not a surprise to you. If it is, you’re in the wrong place.
While I do believe that preventive medicine, good nutrition, and a natural approach to healing are an appropriate sustainable, long-term approach, the bottom line is that there is a time and place for conventional medicine. Support your vitamin D levels and eat your fruits & veggies for vitamin C, yes. But also, arm your immune system to actually fight this virus that has potential to be extremely harmful in PCOS and pregnancy.
If you do have questions about getting the vaccine, please discuss your concerns with YOUR healthcare team. (That’s not me for 99.99% of you.)
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