Your Sick Cycle

When Women Are More Susceptible to Infections

A new study reveals that during ovulation, women’s immune systems weaken and they become increasingly susceptible to infection. So, not only are we more susceptible to the flirty, bad for us bartender during this time, but also to all of his germs? Oh, cruel world…

Ovulation is when your body releases an egg for fertilization, and this usually occurs approximately two weeks before menstruation (though this differs for everyone). The ovulation phase typically lasts between 24 and 48 hours.

Scientists believe the pattern of a weakened immune system during ovulation is a biological adaptation to help increase the chance of getting pregnant: A strong immune system might kill off invading sperm, but having a weaker immune system during ovulation gives sperm a better chance of surviving long enough to fertilize a newly released egg. So, it’s kind of like Battleship in there and we, basically, just had our tanker sunk. 

While it may increase your chance of getting pregnant, a weakened immune system may also “open the door” for other kinds of infection, as scientist John Wherry, PhD puts it. The study, conducted on mice, demonstrated a natural dip in immunity during the ovulation phase of the menstrual cycle and a greater susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections. Researcher Miguel Relloso, PhD says that indeed females have shown a greater risk of being infected with STDs like HIV or HPV during ovulation. 

Just remember, ladies, that unless you’re trying to get pregnant, a condom is a must. And, now that we’ve read this study, we’re thinking more along the lines of a full body condom, just in case.

Source: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (2012). Females May Be More Susceptible to Infection During Ovulation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from
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Anonymous commented
My immune system goes down in the few days before my period, rather than at the time of ovulation (usually around day 15). If I'm going to catch a bug, it is always at this time. Does anyone else experience this?
Lennoxx commented
I am so happy to read this article! I have been tracking my cycle for 3 years using an app to note different symptoms on different days. During my ovulation I experience a yeast infection, spikes in blood sugar, cold sores, and acne. I knew it had to be related to ovulation, but had no idea how to make my OB/GYN or general MD believe they were connected. I feel vidicated!