HIV can affect your menstrual cycle and disrupt your periods. If your viral load is detectable, HIV is found in the menstrual blood - but if you’re on effective treatment and have an undetectable viral load you cannot pass the virus on.
If your viral load is detectable you can pass on HIV - the risk varies depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle.
The levels of HIV in vaginal fluid vary. They are likely to be highest around the time of your period if you have a detectable viral load.
Someone giving you oral sex will be at higher risk of HIV infection around the time of your period if they have bleeding gums, sores, wounds, a sore throat, inflammation or an untreated infection in their mouth.
If your viral load is detectable and someone gives you oral sex, they can use a dental dam (a sheet of latex) or a piece of latex cut from a condom as protection.
However, the results of the PARTNER study found that if you're on effective treatment and have an undetectable viral load, you cannot pass on HIV. Additionally, the Partners PrEP study found that it can take up to six months on treatment for some people to become undetectable.
As well as affecting your immune system, HIV can sometimes affect your hormonal system and change the frequency of your periods. This may be the case if you have a low CD4 cell count and/or a high viral load.
Tell your doctor if you notice any changes to your periods. You might need further testing.
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by Anna Peters
Date due for the next review: 6/11/2020
Content Author: S. Corkery, NAM
Current Owner: Kerri Virani
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