Causes & Risk Factors

Period Gender and the Risk of STDs

March 17, 2018

Following is a delicate question: If a couple who’s sex while the woman is having her time use a condom?

The short answer: It is probably not a bad thought.

First off, a heterosexual couple is still at risk of conceiving while the female partner is menstruating. Therefore, if you’re trying to stop pregnancy and neither you nor your spouse is using another kind of birth control, then a condom is an effective form of contraception.

But using a condom also is important if it comes to safe sex–in other words, protecting both spouses from a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Here are some theories why.

Why Stage Gender May Be Risky

Between 3 percent and 30 percent of women choose not to abstain from sex while menstruating, according to study published in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Unprotected sex is equally as risky when it comes to STDs and STIs as a woman is menstruating as when she is not. In fact, there is a scattering of research that suggests sex during menstruation may increase the risk of certain ailments. 

This certainly is reasonable in the case of bloodborne pathogens like human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), as a woman’s sexual partner will be subjected to her menstrual blood. Research indicates that this is only a concern if a woman with HIV isn’t taking antiretroviral therapy medication to suppress the virus.

However, it also may be true for different viruses and bacteria. Researchers aren’t sure why, but there are some fascinating theories:

  • Blood flow acts as a provider for pathogens. Menstrual blood also might raise the development of bacteria. 
  • A woman’s cervix is more open during her period. The theory here is that it may be easier for several pathogens to reach the upper cervix and the uterus. In fact, this might help to clarify why pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an inflammation of the reproductive tract that is frequently brought on by several STDs, is associated with sex through or near menstruation. 
  • Menstrual blood might cause skin irritation and inflammation which makes it more susceptible to infection. Additionally, menstrual blood tends to dilute both artificial and natural lubrication, raising the risk of tearing and other types of skin damage as well, so you may wish to be particularly generous with any lube you are using along with a condom.

Using a Condom Properly

For a condom to prevent pregnancy and reduce the probability of infection, it has to be used correctly. Check the expiration date, open it carefully (do not utilize sharp fingernails or scissors, by way of example), roll it on properly, and be sure you or your spouse holds onto it if it is removed.