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Periods and UTI: Is there a link?

UTI and Period - Symptoms & Can a UTI Affect Your Period

What is a UTI?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common infections found in women all over the world. In fact, one in two women has been affected by UTI at least once in her lifetime. The most common UTI is caused by a bacteria called Escherichia coli (E. coli) that commonly resides in the rectum and travels into the urethra from sexual contact.

There are other types of UTIs as well that are caused by fungi, and very rarely viruses. Most UTIs are caused by bacteria and can occur in any area of the urinary tract. While lower tract UTI affecting the urethra and bladder are more common, some UTIs can affect the upper tract consisting of the kidneys and uterus and are more severe in nature.

 

UTI Symptoms Before Period

The symptoms vary depending on which tract the UTI has affected. Lower tract UTI symptoms include:
  • Burning sensation while peeing
  • Frequent urination
  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Urine colour may resemble tea or cola
  • Brown discharge
  • Strong odour in urine
  • Pelvic pain

Upper tract UTI symptoms include:

  • The upper back and sides may be painful or feel tender
  • Fevers and chills
  • Nausea and vomiting

UTI and Period

During periods, your body is more susceptible to a variety of infections, including UTIs. The main reason for being more prone to contracting a UTI around this time is lowered levels of estrogen.

Estrogen is known to have anti-inflammatory properties that control the inflammation levels of your body. So, when it is lowered, your body is more likely to get a UTI due to higher levels of inflammation.

Also, estrogen aids in keeping the good vaginal bacteria (Lactobacillus) thriving and active. These bacteria help in regulating the vaginal pH and prevent the growth of bad bacteria. So, when estrogen levels are lowered, the chances of UTI rises.

Can a UTI affect your period ?

There is a popular belief that a UTI can delay your periods. However, there is no direct link between a UTI and your periods. But, if you experience a delay in your periods after you contract the infection, these may be the reasons contributing to it:

  • Stress - If you contract an infection, you may naturally be experiencing some levels of stress. The hormones released in the body during stress (mainly cortisol) interfere with the reproductive hormones that cause periods, leading to a possible delay in Aunt Flo’s visit.
  • Antibiotics - While most oral antibiotics used to treat lower tract UTIs do not interfere with reproductive hormones, there is one particular antibiotic that is known to disrupt the hormone levels during your periods, leading to a possible delay in your periods. However, doctors do not usually prescribe this medication. And, the intravenous antibiotics used to treat upper tract UTIs have no data backing any link between them and a delay in your periods.

What are the probable causes of delay in your periods?

Menstrual delay can be caused by several other factors that you should consider:

What can you do to prevent UTIs?

There are several measures you can adopt to prevent UTIs:

  • Make sure to wipe from front to back (and not the other way round) after peeing and pooping to avoid bacteria from travelling to your urethra from your anus.
  • Always pee after you have sex.
  • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
  • Try to keep the genitals clean and dry at all times.
  • Make sure to clean the toilet seat in public urinals before sitting on them, or try not to touch the seat at all while peeing in public toilets.
  • Thoroughly wash your genitals post-sex to get rid of any bacteria.
  • Try not to hold in pee for long durations.
  • Unsweetened cranberry juice is known to help prevent UTIs.
  • Don’t wear the same pad or tampon for more than recommended durations, or change them frequently if you are very prone to UTIs.

The bottom line

While there is no direct link between a UTI and a delayed period, you may be more prone to contracting a UTI when you are menstruating. If you suspect a UTI, immediately visit a doctor to get treated and strive to not stress about it, which is a factor that can lead to a delayed period.

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