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Relation of Menstrual Cycle to Risk of Infection?

Sep 24, 1996

Is a woman more susceptible to infection from unprotected heterosexual sex during menstruation? Is there any correlation between the menstrual cycle and degree of risk of infection?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

I am not aware of any study looking specifically at this issue. However, it is well established that anytime a woman has unprotected sex with an infected person (whether it be HIV or other Sexually Transmitted Diseases), that there would be a significant risk of infection. I'm just not aware of any studies looking to see if the risk would increase during menstruation.

However, it is interesting to note that when an HIV infected woman is having her period, that the risk may increase for her partner. This is because her partner would be exposed to menstrual blood in addition to vaginal secretions. Both menstrual blood and vaginal secretions can contain HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's). The more infectious body fluids the partner is exposed to, the greater the risk of infection would be. So, if the woman were menstruating, the partner would be at increased risk during intercourse and while giving the woman oral sex.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide). Rick Sowadsky MSPH CDS

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