Urine infections are very common in women and the majority of the sufferers tend to experience them during, or just after the menstrual cycle. Often gynaecologists are asked by their patients whether there is a correlation between urinary tract infections and menstrual periods. The answer, theoretically, is no. However, there are several factors that can contribute to UTIs in relation to one’s monthly periods.
Let us study this correlation between periods and UTIs in detail.
“I keep getting UTI symptoms after every menstrual cycle”. What does it mean?
Ask any doctor the interrelation between periods and bladder infections and the answer you will probably hear is hormonal imbalance. Secondly, lack of hygiene during periods can also cause UTI during or after periods. Wiping back to front is a habit that can definitely lead to frequent UTIs in women.
Certain foods can also trigger UTI during or before one’s menstrual cycle. These include: caffeine rich food and drinks, refined flour and sugary items. Ancient Chinese herbalists usually attribute bladder infections during and after the periods to the patient’s diet. According to this science, what a woman eats directly contributes to the ‘phlegm’ in her body which then leads to imbalances that manifest themselves in the form of a UTI.
Another factor leading to UTIs in women immediately following the periods is sexual intercourse. Many women use the ‘safe period’ to have sex without fear of pregnancy. This can irritate the already sensitized urethra making it more susceptible to bacterial infections. Also, women using birth control diaphragms are more likely to increase their risk of bladder infection.
Tampons and sanitary pads used during menstrual cycle are other factors leading to bacterial and yeast (Candida) infections. Not changing the pad frequently or using the wrong products which are unable to absorb the flow of blood can also increase susceptibility to UTIs.
So, what can one do to prevent UTI during and after periods?
There are many preventive measures women can take to avoid UTI following the menstrual period.
- Drink plenty of water and urinate frequently to empty the bladder completely. This will reduce chances of bacteria remaining in the bladder.
- Drink cranberry juice or take cranberry supplements as advised by a doctor since these can prevent urinary infections.
- Practice good hygiene during and after the periods. Use non scented wipes and tissue papers to clean the vagina and area around the anus. Always follow the ‘front to back’ wiping movement after a bowel movement. Avoid harsh feminine douches and products which increase one’s risk of UTIs.
- Change sanitary pads and tampons frequently. Use the right products to handle blood flow experienced during the periods.
- Use adequate lubrication during intercourse as, many times, inadequate lubrication can render the vagina susceptible to bacteria. Also urinate immediately following sexual intercourse to remove bacteria from the bladder.
- UTI and menstruation has a hormonal connection. So, do talk to your OB/GYN and investigate the cause of frequent UTIs. If you are closer to menopause and frequently experiencing difficult periods as well as UTI just following that, you could be put on hormone replacement therapy to regulate such imbalance.
- Many alternative therapies and treatments have given a ray of hope to women suffering from regular UTIs. These include Chinese remedies, Ayurveda, and Homeopathy. Some women have also tried D-mannose pills that are known to prevent Leaky Gut Syndrome which is associated with hormonal defects causing UTIs during periods.
Can UTIs delay menstrual period?
This is another common question asked in relation to UTI and menstruation. Many women tend to get their periods much later than expected owing to painful UTI symptoms. The reason again could be owing to hormonal disturbances. Also, the infection can lead to stress and interfere with the reproductive system’s normal functioning delaying the production of ova. If you are very late in getting your periods following UTI, check for pregnancy. Also, women in the pre menopausal years could experience delayed periods.
Is it a UTI or an IC?
Often, what one thinks is a UTI can actually be Interstitial Cystitis. IC affects nearly 10 million women all over the world. It is characterized by pain in the abdomen, as well as the urge to urinate frequently both of which are symptoms of urine infections. The main difference between UTI and Interstitial cystitis is that the urine culture in IC will be devoid of bacteria. Here are other symptoms of interstitial cystitis:
- Spasmodic stomach pain, fever and the urge to urinate frequently during night and day.
- Pressure and tenderness in bladder and around anus and vagina
- Bloody urine
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms do make sure to see a doctor immediately. Also, women experiencing frequent UTIs just following their periods must rule out other serious underlying health issues or immune system disorders.