Ovulation May Raise Risk for Infection

Immunity decreases during ovulation

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Feeling sick? It may be due to your monthly cycle. Spanish and Austrian researchers studied the effects of the sex hormone estradiol (which triggers ovulation) in mice.

They found that mice that were given estradiol were more likely to develop an infection. The researchers think that women, too, are at greater risk for infection during ovulation, which is the period of time when a mature egg is released from the ovary – usually 12-16 days from the next expected period.

"Track your ovulation cycle to know whether you're at risk for infection."

The researchers monitored the ovulating mice and made two discoveries: not only were the mice at increased risk for Candida albicans (yeast infection), but the mice had lower immunity in general during ovulation.

The team concludes that ovulating women are at risk of developing a yeast infection or sexually transmitted diseases.

They believe this vulnerability in a woman’s immune system could explain how a woman is able to get pregnant: the decreased immunity is what allows sperm to survive inside a woman and fertilize an egg successfully.

Still, the lowered immunity during ovulation means that females are at heightened risk of HIV or HPV, says Dr. Miguel Relloso, a researcher at the Laboratorio de Inmunobiologia Molecular at the Hospital Gregorio Maranon and Complutense University in Madrid, Spain, in a press release.

HIV and HPV are viral infections - not fungal infections. An impaired immune system has been shown to increase a person’s risk for developing the conditions.

Ovulation can occur at various times during a woman’s monthly cycle, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Your ovulation can be affected by stress, sickness or an abrupt change in your normal routine. It’s important to track your ovulation cycle if you’re trying to get pregnant – or trying to prevent pregnancy. Some women experience light blood spotting during ovulation or pain near the ovaries.

This clinical study was published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 6, 2012
Last Updated:
May 13, 2014