Urinary tract infections can be painful and frustrating. Some women question if a UTI can affect their menstrual cycle in any way. To answer this let’s first review female anatomy.
There are three openings in the female genitalia: the urethra, vagina, and anus. Each of these openings is connected to a different body system. The anus is part of the gastrointestinal system which aids in digestion and removing food waste.
The vagina is part of the reproductive system which in females is responsible for menstruation and carrying a fetus. The urethra is part of the urinary system which aids in filtering blood and removing waste from the blood. This waste becomes urine and is discarded from the body by urinating.
A UTI happens when there is an infection in the urinary tract. Since the organs of the urinary system are separate from the reproductive system, having a UTI will not affect your period. UTIs do not have a direct relationship with a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Although it is important to note that sometimes being sick can delay menstruation. It is possible that if a UTI goes untreated it can spread and cause a kidney infection or urosepsis which is more serious and could cause a delay or change in menstruation, but UTIs and the menstrual cycle are not directly correlated or affected by each other.
Stress levels are another factor to consider. Having a high-stress level could affect your menstrual cycle. If you are stressed from your infection it could affect menstruation. In addition to illness and stress, other factors that could affect your period are age, pregnancy, and hormonal changes.
What are UTIs?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a general term used to describe an infection anywhere in the urinary system. This could be anywhere from the kidneys, ureter, bladder, or urethra. It can happen to anyone at any time. Some healthcare professionals consider UTIs the most common type of infection.
UTIs are caused by bacteria and sometimes fungi that have gotten into the urinary system. These invaders usually get into the urinary system by sexual activity, wiping your genital area from back to front, poor hygiene, or urinary structural issues.
You must have UTIs treated by a medical professional because the infection could spread to other parts of the body and cause more serious problems.
Symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) will vary depending on the person. Some people may have no symptoms at all, while others may experience an array of symptoms.
The most common symptoms include burning pain with urination, frequent urination, urge to urinate, blood in the urine, abdominal/pelvic pain or cramping, cloudy urine, foul-smelling urine, fever, and flank pain.
The most common UTI symptoms are:
- Loss of bladder control
- Need to urinate more often
- Cloudy urine
- Strong urine odor
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Pelvic and/or lower abdominal pain
- Dark or even bloody urine
How are UTIs and Periods Connected?
UTIs and periods are not directly connected. A urinary tract infection affects the urinary system of the body, while the menstrual cycle is regulated by the reproductive system. These body systems are different from each other.
Having a UTI will not affect your period unless it goes untreated or causes you high stress. In these instances, your period could be affected indirectly by the UTI. Factors that could affect menstruation include illness, stress, age, pregnancy, and hormones.
Can a UTI Affect Your Period?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) will not affect your period. The menstrual cycle could indirectly be affected by a UTI in some circumstances. For example, if a UTI goes untreated, spreads, and causes a greater health issue it could affect your period.
If you are someone who is affected by high-stress levels and a UTI causes you high stress this could also affect your period. These are both outlying circumstances. There is no direct relationship between UTIs and menstruation.
Can UTI Antibiotics Stop or Delay Your Period?
Antibiotics are used to treat urinary tract infections. They work by eliminating or halting the growth of the bacteria causing the infection. In most cases, antibiotics do not stop or delay the menstrual cycle.
The three most commonly prescribed antibiotics for UTIs are:
- Cephalexin (Keflex)
- Fosfomycin (Monurol)
- Nitrofurantoin (Macrobid)
If you are concerned about the effect of an antibiotic on your menstrual cycle, you should discuss it further with your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
What can delay your period?
As we already covered in this article A UTI can’t directly delay or affect your periods. However, there are several reasons why a woman’s period may be delayed or stopped such as:
- Stress – When you’re under a lot of stress, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. This can interfere with the release of other hormones needed to trigger ovulation and cause your period to be delayed or even stop altogether.
- Weight gain or loss – Sudden weight gain or loss can also disrupt your hormone levels and lead to a delay in your period.
- Excessive exercise – Like stress, extreme exercise can also throw off your hormone levels and delay your period.
- Pregnancy – This is probably the most common reason for a missed period. If you think you might be pregnant, take a pregnancy test to be sure.
- Menopause – As women approach menopause, their hormone levels begin to fluctuate more and more, which can cause periods to become irregular or even stop altogether.
- Birth control – Some types of birth control can cause your period to be delayed or stop. If you think your birth control might be the cause, talk to your doctor about other options.
- Other medication – Medication such as antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, and some antibiotics can delay or stop your period. If you think your medication is the cause, talk to your doctor about other options.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – This is a condition that can cause irregular periods or no periods at all. If you think you might have PCOS, talk to your doctor.
- Diabetes – Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can cause missed or irregular periods. If you think your diabetes might be the cause, talk to your doctor.
- Thyroid problems – An overactive or underactive thyroid can also cause hormonal imbalances that can lead to missed or irregular periods.
- Other medical conditions – There are a number of other medical conditions that can cause your period to be delayed or stop, such as thyroid problems, pituitary disorders, and certain types of cancer.
- Breastfeeding – Breastfeeding can also delay your period because it suppresses ovulation.
As you can see, there are a number of different things that can cause your period to be delayed or stopped. If you’re concerned about a missed or irregular period, the best thing to do is talk to a doctor. They can help you figure out what might be causing the problem and find a solution.
When to See a Doctor?
You should see a doctor anytime you think you may have a urinary tract infection (UTI). The only effective method for treating UTIs is antibiotics which cannot be purchased over the counter and require a prescription from a healthcare provider.
If a UTI goes untreated it can spread and cause more severe infections. You must see a doctor for every new UTI you have. If you have frequent UTIs, you may be referred to a specialist.
Leftover antibiotics from a previous illness or from someone else should never be taken. You will need a specific antibiotic depending on what type of bacteria is causing your UTI. Each antibiotic is unique and treats only certain types of bacteria. This is one of the reasons antibiotics require a prescription.
If you take a leftover or old antibiotic it may not treat the infection and the infection will spread. You should always finish a course of antibiotics prescribed unless otherwise directed by your healthcare provider.
If you are experiencing issues with menstruation such as delays, pain, abnormal bleeding, or any other complications you should see your OBGYN healthcare provider.
Get Help From an Online Doctor
An online doctor can help you get the treatment you need for a UTI. They can prescribe antibiotics and other medications to help relieve your symptoms and speed up your recovery.
They can also provide support and advice on what could be delaying your periods or how to manage any other symptoms you may have.
With DrHouse you start an on-demand virtual visit with a licensed clinician in a matter of minutes. All you need to do is to download the app, choose your plan and start an on-demand visit with one of our online doctors.
- A urinary tract infection (UTI) does not directly affect your period.
- Illness, stress, age, pregnancy, and hormonal changes could affect your period
- The only effective method of treating UTIs is antibiotics, which must be prescribed by a healthcare provider.
- You should see a healthcare provider if you have a UTI or any menstruation issues.
- You can save time and get treatment faster for your health conditions by using an online doctor service such as DrHouse
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, October 6). Urinary tract infection.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved June 15, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/uti.html
DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.