Do urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect your periods? – This is a commonly asked question with a simple answer. Theoretically, it is possible for a UTI to cause you to have a late period. Illnesses and infections can delay ovulation (the release of an egg from your ovaries), and this can make your period come later than expected.
In general, most women who have a urinary tract infection do not have missed periods, or a late period.
There are many reasons why a woman may have a delayed period, or a missed period, but a common urinary tract infection shouldn’t cause any menstrual cycle irregularities. The most common reasons you’ve missed your period, or had delayed menstruation include stress, anxiety, or depression; a recent illness that has upset your regular hormonal balance; vigorous exercise or dieting that has caused you to lose too much weight all at once.
If you have missed your period three months in a row (and you’ve ruled out pregnancy), you need to contact your healthcare provider.
What is a Urinary Tract Infection?
A urinary tract infection is what it sounds like. It’s an infection that affects your urinary tract – the body’s draining system that removes extra water and wastes from your body via urine. The urinary tract includes your two kidneys, your bladder, your two ureters, and the urethra.
A majority of urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria. However, UTIs can also be caused by other microbes (tiny organisms that you need a microscope to see) – including germs, fungi, and viruses.
Most of the time, when the bacterium enters a woman’s urinary tract, it is quickly removed when you urinate, so you never experience any symptoms. However, when there is too much bacteria (or other microbes), it can overwhelm your body’s natural defense mechanisms and cause an infection.
Women are more likely to get urinary tract infections, compared to men, because they have shorter urethras that are closer to the anus. This is the reason that women are more likely to get UTIs are having sexual intercourse.
There are various types of urinary tract infections, depending on the area of the urinary tract that they affect. Common types of UTIs include:
- Urethra Infection – If the UTI only affects the urethra (which is the tube that carries urine from your bladder to outside your body), it is called urethritis. Most women who have urethritis end up getting bladder infections.
- Bladder Infection – Also called cystitis, this type of UTI occurs when bacteria (or other germs) enter through the urethra and travel to your bladder. If cystitis is not treated, the bacteria can travel up the ureters (tubes that funnels urine from the kidneys down to the bladder) and into the kidneys, causing an infection.
- Kidney Infection – Also called pyelonephritis, kidney infections are the most severe type of UTIs. Severe kidney infections, or recurrent infections can sometimes cause permanent damage to your kidneys and even lead you to develop chronic kidney disease. In rare cases, pyelonephritis can spread to your bloodstream (a condition called sepsis).
Over 50 percent of all women will experience a urinary tract infection (abbreviated UTI) in their lifetime. UTIs aren’t fun, and they can cause you to experience a painful or burning sensation when you urinate. Other signs of a UTI include:
- Cloudy or bloody urine
- Urine that has a foul or bad odor
- Pressure or cramping in your lower abdomen
- The frequent and strong need to urinate
- Low fever
Kidney Infections and Your Menstrual Cycle
In general, urinary tract infections usually do not affect your menstrual periods. Kidney infections are the most severe form of UTIs, and they can really run down your body. This, in turn, can cause delays in ovulation and late (or missed) periods.
When untreated, kidney infections can lead to sepsis – a serious illness that causes your bloodstream to be infected with bacteria. Sepsis can cause your blood pressure to drop, leading to shock. Sepsis can cause all your major organs – like your lungs, kidney, liver, and even central nervous system to stop functioning. Sepsis can also cause your reproductive systems to stop working, which will affect your menstrual cycle.
Urinary tract infections – including kidney infections – are usually treated with antibiotics. If you think you may have a UTI, please go see a healthcare provider for treatment.
To recap – urinary tract infections can potentially delay your period, since illnesses can burden your immune system and make it harder for your organs, like the ovaries, to properly do its job. Most of the time, however, UTIs will not delay your period.
Please consult your doctor if you are worried about UTIs and your period. Only your healthcare provider can give you medical advice on your particular situation.