Can You Get Pregnant With a UTI?

Given that almost half of all women will get a UTI at some stage in life and may experience them 30x more frequently than men, gaining a better understanding of urinary tract infections and their potential impact on your life is vital. 

For women of childbearing age, the big question is “can you get pregnant with a UTI?”. Let’s find out.

Table of Contents

Does a UTI Affect Your Chances of Getting Pregnant?

If you are actively trying to get pregnant, the good news is that having a UTI – symptomatic or asymptomatic – won’t reduce your hopes of conceiving. However, it is advised that you do not have sex with a UTI. In truth, you are unlikely to want sex when experiencing symptoms like burning sensations either. So, it could indirectly reduce your likelihood of conceiving simply through not having intercourse.

UTIs are the fifth most-common infection in healthcare and the majority of the 8 million plus medical appointments made annually for urinary tract infections are by women. Moreover, there is an estimated 1 in 5 chance of a patient experiencing a repeat episode within four months of clearing the initial symptoms. Complicated and recurring UTIs can, therefore, cause long-term problems that indirectly impact your chances of conceiving for months or years to come.

It should also be noted that UTIs can affect pregnancy tests because heightened hCG levels may cause false positives. Similarly, the medications used to treat UTIs may alter the chemical makeup of your urine. 

The positive correlation between pregnancy and UTIs has been shown many times too. Ultimately, the fetus may introduce some difficulty to the process of emptying your bladder, which means e.coli and other pathogens may stay in the body longer. They can multiply very quickly, thus enabling infections to move up toward the kidneys. 

Whether you are trying to conceive for the first time or have another child, UTIs won’t directly reduce the impact on your chances of conceiving but will influence your sex life. 

Does a UTI Affect Your Fertility in Any Way?

UTIs do not directly impact a woman’s fertility. However, urinary infections are heavily linked to infertility, this is due to STIs like chlamydia. Inflammation is another potential cause that can lead to infertility. This can occur when bacteria passes from the urethra to the vagina.

Another potential risk is the development of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). While urinary tract infections alone do not cause them, bacteria that find their way from the urinary tract into the reproductive tract may lead to this problem. The good news is that UTIs are far less likely to cause this than STIs. nonetheless, it is important to take care of your general urinary health. 

Meanwhile, if serious UTIs are allowed to worsen into kidney disease, it can affect ovulation. So, curing the UTI, either through treatment or the body’s natural responses is vital.

Can a UTI Cause Infertility in Men?

When considering UTI risk factors, gender is weighted against women. When looking at the threat of infertility, though, men are in far greater danger. Inflammation of the prostate gland (prostatitis) is a particularly noteworthy issue. In addition to impact the testes and epididymis, UTIs may impact the quality and quantity of sperm produced. 

While STIs are statistically shown to be the main source of infertility-causing infections, UTIs are another source of poor urogenital health that can result in infertility if left untreated. It should probably be no surprise that men carry the greater risk here because sperm and urine follow the same path, which is not the case for women.

UTIs can often be asymptomatic and will clear by themselves. However, men (and women) who experience symptoms such as burning sensations when peeing or painful ejaculations should seek treatment. Aside from the risk of infertility, it will continue to affect your sex life and consequently reduce the couple’s likelihood of conceiving.

How to Treat a UTI While Trying to Conceive?

Once UTI symptoms are known, it is advised to seek treatment irrespective of whether you’re trying to conceive. Nevertheless, the fact that being sexually active does heighten the risk of a UTI can’t be ignored. 

When actively trying to conceive, knowing how to prevent a UTI after sex is particularly important. Peeing after sex and staying hydrated will be pivotal. You can also help prevent UTIs by avoiding scented vaginal cleansing items that could affect your flora or pH levels. Consuming more vitamin C may also support your body’s natural defense systems. 

Crucially, you will want to treat any UTI or related symptoms before you resume trying to conceive. Aside from reducing the risk of passing bacteria back and forth with your partner, it can make a huge difference during pregnancy. After all, 35 percent of pregnant women with asymptomatic bacteriuria will develop a symptomatic urinary tract infection. Sadly, this could cause major issues during pregnancy, including problems for the fetus. 

The best ways to treat UTIs are:

  • Antibiotics,
  • Drinking more water,
  • Probiotics,
  • Wear loose clothing,
  • Consider heat applications.

If you are pregnant or actively trying to conceive, though, it is advised to avoid boric acid suppositories as they are toxic for a fetus while you’ll need to use them daily for two weeks.

When to See a Doctor?

Even if UTIs don’t impact your chances of getting pregnant, symptomatic infections can cause significant discomfort. Therefore, you should want to get rid of your urinary tract infection fast, not least because untreated infections could spread up the urinary tract to the kidneys. Early intervention prevents this while also ensuring that symptoms can be alleviated sooner.

If you are concerned about stomach pains, cloudy urine, blood in your urine, or increased toilet needs, it’s advised that you call a doctor now.

If you’d rather speak to an online doctor rather than your local GP, DrHouse can connect you to one within 15 minutes or less.

Key Takeaways

While UTIs won’t reduce your chances of getting pregnant, they may impact male fertility and will indirectly impact your hopes of conceiving due to a lack of sex. More importantly, UTIs may cause complications during pregnancy and in general life, which provides even more reason to seek quick treatment.

Sources:

  • Urinary tract infections, The Office on Women’s Health. Available from: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/urinary-tract-infections 
  • Urinary Tract Infection, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/uti.html 
  • Urinary Tract Infection (Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection [CAUTI] and Non-Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection [UTI]) Events, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/nhsn/pdfs/pscmanual/7psccauticurrent.pdf 
  • Schuppe, HC; Pilatz, A; Hossain, H; Diemer, T; Wagenlehner, F; Weidner, W; Urogenital Infection as a Risk Factor for Male Infertility, Dtsch Arztebl Int 2017; 114: 339-46. DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2017.0339
  • Moore EE, Hawes SE, Scholes D, Boyko EJ, Hughes JP, Fihn SD. Sexual intercourse and risk of symptomatic urinary tract infection in post-menopausal women. J Gen Intern Med. 2008 May;23(5):595-9. doi: 10.1007/s11606-008-0535-y.

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.

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