UTI While on Your Period: What to Do?

Having to deal with your period and a UTI at the same time is not something that anyone wants to do. UTIs or urinary tract infections are a common bacterial infection where bacteria gets into the urinary tract, including the urethra and bladder. 

It can cause symptoms such as cloudy urine or a burning sensation when you pee. Dealing with this at any point in your menstrual cycle isn’t fun, but it can be worse during your period.

Table of Contents

Can You Get a UTI While on Your Period?

The simple answer is yes, unfortunately, you can get a urinary tract infection when you’re on your period. A UTI occurs when bacteria enter your urinary tract, and there’s nothing preventing that from happening when you are on your period. In fact, there are a couple of reasons you could be slightly more likely to get a UTI during or after your period.

There is a slight chance that if you already have a UTI, it could delay your period due to the stress it places on your body and immune system.

Why Do I Get a UTI During My Period?

If you frequently get a UTI during or just after you menstruate, you might wonder why this is the case. There are several reasons you might start to experience UTI symptoms when you’re on your period.

Vaginal pH

When you menstruate, your vaginal pH is higher (less acidic). As blood and tissue from the uterus travel through your vagina, it increases the pH and increases the susceptibility for bacteria growth. This can mean that bacteria from your vagina are more likely to travel to your urethral opening.

Hormonal Changes

The hormonal changes that your body undergoes during your period can also be a contributing factor if you get a UTI during your period. Estrogen has anti inflammatory properties and during your period, your estrogen levels are at their lowest. This can increase your risk of infection and illness when you’re on your period, meaning that you are more likely to get a UTI.

Menstrual Product Habits

Your habits relating to tampons, pads or other menstrual products could make a difference when it comes to UTIs. Tampons and pads don’t directly cause UTIs, but there could be risk factors relating to hygiene. One study showed that improper menstrual hygiene is one of the major risk factors for young women developing UTIs. Studies have also shown that changing menstrual products more frequently can help to prevent UTIs by reducing the risk. One reason there might be a bigger risk of developing a UTI when not changing tampons or pads frequently is an increase of fluids, which makes it easier for bacteria to grow and move.

Variations in the Urinary Tract

A possible risk factor for urinary tract infections that has been identified more recently is variations in the urinary microbiome during menstruation. A study found higher than normal levels of common skin bacteria during menstruation, which could be caused by the use of period products.

Sex

Some sexually active women enjoy having sex on their period, but this can be a risk factor for developing UTIs. It makes the movement of bacteria more likely, which increases the risk of infection in your urinary tract. Your urethra may already be irritated due to being on your period, and this can be made worse by sex too.

Stress

Stress affects your immune system and can make getting ill more likely. In the days before your period and when you’re menstruating, you can have less energy and feel stressed. You can feel stress due to PMS or because you get bad period cramps, which could increase your risk of infection too.

Can a Period Make a UTI Worse?

When you have a UTI and your period at the same time, it can certainly feel like they are making each other worse. But does a UTI directly affect your period or can periods make UTIs worse? We know that being on your period can increase your risk of developing a urinary tract infection, for a number of reasons. But does the time in your menstrual cycle when you get a UTI make any difference to UTI symptoms?

Menstruating when you have a UTI might not make it directly worse, but it could cause you not to realize you have a UTI. Some UTI symptoms are similar to common symptoms during your period, such as cramps, frequent urination, or even bleeding. However, other symptoms such as cloudy urine could indicate a UTI.

How to Deal With a UTI on Your Period?

If you have a UTI while menstruating, it can be dealt with in the same way as you would at any other time. You can still take antibiotics, which will treat the infection. Additionally, it’s important to practice good personal hygiene, especially in regard to feminine hygiene products. When they are changed regularly, you can help to reduce the symptoms of your UTI and prevent reinfection.

How to Prevent a UTI On Your Period?

There are various steps you can take if you want to prevent UTIs. Good hygiene is one of the most important things to focus on. It helps to prevent bacteria from the digestive tract and vagina from getting into the urethral opening. 

Keep your vulva and vagina clean with regular washing and change menstrual products regularly. Make your sexual activity more hygienic by urinating after sex and cleaning around your genital area before and after sex. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated too, as this might help to prevent infection.

When to See a Doctor?

If left untreated, a UTI could lead to a bladder infection or kidney infection. It’s important to speak to a healthcare provider for professional medical advice if you think you have a UTI. Symptoms such as a burning sensation when urinating, frequent urination or urge to urinate, or cramps in your lower abdomen could indicate an infection. 

How Can DrHouse Help You?

If you think you might have a UTI or another urinary tract problem, the DrHouse telehealth app can help. You can use the app to make on-demand visits with a licensed clinician, who can help to diagnose and treat your condition.

The app is available 24/7, so you can get the care you need when you need it. You don’t need to see a doctor in person or go to a clinic, which can save you time and money. Plus, you can get treatment from the comfort of your own home.

Key Takeaways

  • You can get a UTI when on your period, and your period could increase the risk of a UTI
  • Multiple factors can lead to UTIs when menstruating, including stress, hormones, and poor hygiene
  • Maintain good hygiene to prevent UTIs
  • Speak to a doctor if you think you have a UTI

Sources:

  • Urinary Tract Infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/uti.html 
  • Amiri, F.N., Rooshan, M.H., Ahmady, M.H. & Soliamani, M.J. (‎2009)‎. Hygiene practices and sexual activity associated with urinary tract infection in pregnant women. EMHJ – Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, 15 (‎1)‎, 104-110, 2009 https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/117613
  • Jennifer N Morey, Ian A Boggero, April B Scott, Suzanne C Segerstrom, Current directions in stress and human immune function, Current Opinion in Psychology, Volume 5, 2015, Pages 13-17, ISSN 2352-250X, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.03.007
  • Srivastava, Shubha. “Analytical study of urinary tract infection in adolescent girls.” International Journal of Reproduction, Contraception, Obstetrics and Gynecology, vol. 7, no. 4, Apr. 2018, pp. 1385+. Gale OneFile: Health and Medicine, https://dx.doi.org/10.18203/2320-1770.ijrcog20181024 
  • Price TK, Wolff B, Halverson T, et al. Temporal Dynamics of the Adult Female Lower Urinary Tract Microbiota. mBio. 2020;11(2):e00475-20. Published 2020 Apr 21. doi:10.1128/mBio.00475-20
  • Torondel, B., Sinha, S., Mohanty, J.R. et al. Association between unhygienic menstrual management practices and prevalence of lower reproductive tract infections: a hospital-based cross-sectional study in Odisha, India. BMC Infect Dis 18, 473 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12879-018-3384-2 
  • Vyas S, Sharma P, Srivastava K, Nautiyal V, Shrotriya VP. Role of Behavioural Risk Factors in Symptoms Related to UTI Among Nursing Students. J Clin Diagn Res. 2015;9(9):LC15-LC18. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2015/10995.6547
  • How Estrogen Fights Urinary Tract Infections. Live Science. Available from: https://www.livescience.com/37563-uti-estrogen-menopause.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.

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