It’s not unusual for women with HIV to experience changes in their periods, but we don’t know all the ways that HIV may play a part. Any changes in your menstrual cycle indicate a shift in the balance of how your body works and should be discussed with your doctor.

Changes to your periods might include the following:

  • irregular, heavier, or lighter periods
  • spotting
  • increased symptoms of PMS
  • darkening of menstrual blood
  • more frequent periods
  • skipped periods or much longer cycles
  • no periods at all

Here are some things that can affect your menstrual cycle:

  • pregnancy
  • perimenopause or menopaus
  • changes in body weight
  • drug use (prescribed or street drugs)
  • poor nutrition
  • stress
  • pelvic inflammatory disease
  • CD4 count and overall immune health
  • low platelets (the part of the blood involved in clotting and immune response) due to HIV infection

Perimenopause and menopause

Menopause is the natural end of menstruation. A woman’s final menstrual period usually occurs between the ages of 38 and 58. Hormonal changes leading to that final period happen over several years in a process called perimenopause. During perimenopause, the balance of hormones in your system changes, affecting your ovaries, uterus, and vagina. It can affect some women more dramatically than others. Indicators of perimenopause include the following:

  • menstrual changes: periods become irregular or heavier
  • hot flashes
  • vaginal dryness
  • moodiness, anxiety, depression
  • forgetfulness and fatigue