Vaccines, Vaginas and Why Our Voices Matter in Public Health

Source: Unsplash, Hannah Busing

It’s virtually impossible for this vaccine to affect your period,”

said the doctor dismissively as he injected the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine into my arm. Having experienced excruciating pain and heavy bleeding after my first dose, it took all my self control to quell the rage inside of me, lest I be characterized as hysterical.

Source: Unsplash, Brano
Source: Unsplash, Jonathan Borba

You really shouldn’t touch this topic. You will only fuel anti-vaccine sentiment further.”

To reiterate, we are firm believers that everyone who is able to get vaccinated should get vaccinated.

Source: Unsplash / Mat Napo

Fear and silence are the breeding ground for the very kinds of misinformation and alternative “facts” that perpetuate vaccine hesitancy and much of our current public discourse. Isn’t it time to break the vicious cycle?

Within the historical context of menstrual pain and related discomfort being routinely ignored and minimized by healthcare professionals, we believe it’s time to have a real conversation.

Interestly, and importantly, almost all reported that they would still choose to get vaccinated again.

Despite their willingness to get vaccinated, 90% of respondents said that they were not informed of any possible side effects related to ovulation or menstruation after vaccination. Some respondents thought they may be pregnant when their periods were more than 10 days late, or worse, they feared that they had cervical cancer when unexpected bleeding began years after they experienced menopause.

Souce: Unsplash / Nishaan Ahmed
Source: Madami and Quilt.AI
Source: Unsplash, Thought Catalog
Source: Madami and Quilt.AI

What is the true impact of a system that intentionally or unintentionally ignores your experience?

The development, testing, roll-out and communication around the COVID-19 vaccine is just one new example of how half the world’s population has been left out of the conversation. As we look to the future of this pandemic and public health more broadly, we need to start thinking about the people within a population. Treatment must be individualized and personalized.

Women’s voices and experiences matter not only because listening to them can lead to more informed health decision-making for women, but also the people around them.

Source: Unsplash, Diane Serik

We are ready for a change… and it starts with a proper conversation.

*We recognize that not all women menstruate, and not all who menstruate identify with being a woman, and strongly advocate for the inclusion of diverse voices, identities and bodies in discussions around female and menstrual health.



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Madami is a purpose-driven advisory & innovation agency specializing in femtech, sextech and gender lens investing