Menstrual cycle and immune response

Patient

Q: Every month when I come on my cycle I seem to catch a cold or flu, fever pain in my bones. Is there really a link? What can I do to try to head it off before I get sick? Is this normal or do I have an immune system issue?

Doctor

A:   Exacerbation of common medical and mental health disorders at specific phases of the menstrual cycle is a popular phenomenon. Although the precise cause is unclear, studies suggest complex interactions between the immune system, nervous system and hormonal system. The menstrual cycle also is a trigger for the onset of depressive disorders, including premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a disorder specific to the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Therefore there is a potential link between your cycle and decreased immune function. I would advise multivitamin supplementation to optimize immune response.

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