Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

While I understand the desire not to feed conspiracy theories or pseudoscience, the scientific’s community response to menstruating people’s reports of changes in their periods after vaccination have been reminiscent of another era.

When after both Covid-19 vaccines I had extremely weird (very painful, very heavy etc) periods, I googled to see what was going on. The “scientific community” answered with the 21st century equivalent “hysteria”. I should not worry my little head because it is just… stress related.

From the Cleveland Clinic site (and I am only using this one as an example, since the same response has been repeated in every other health related site, in multiple languages even)

While women across the country have noticed changes in their periods shortly after vaccination, there currently is no concrete evidence that COVID-19 vaccines can have a direct effect on women’s menstrual cycles. Instead, these changes may be associated with the body’s response to stress.

Let me break down the “scientific method” employed here:

  • ”women across the country noticed”
  • what shall we do now….there is no evidence!
  • ah, it’s just… stress

Obviously, the replication of an old epistemic model: self reporting is not treated as evidence but, even worse, self reporting is not considered worthy of further investigation. Instead, the response is to ascribe the symptoms to some vague, unmeasurable reason such as “stress”.


the physical manifestations of hysteria were not a result of nerves or disorders in the physical body. Instead, physical symptoms were brought on by mental trauma.

Even though there are reports the world over about changes in menstrual cycles, we continue the same approach to science that has been de rigueur for the past four or five centuries.

Photo credit: Series of three photos showing a so-called ‘hysterical’ woman yawning, Wellcome Collection.

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