Urinary Tract Infection is a common bacterial infection in women, with every one in two women affected by it at some point in time. When bacteria enter the bladder through the urethra and starts to multiply, it results in urinary tract infection. Most of the times UTI is caused by the bacterium E.coli. This bacterium is found in the digestive tract and skin around the vagina. If it enters the urinary tract, it can cause a painful and a severe infection.
The kidneys filter the blood and remove wastes and excess water as urine. This urine is stored in the bladder and expelled out of the body through the urethra. The urethral opening is just above the vaginal opening. UTIs are more common in women due to anatomical reasons. A woman’s urethra is close to the anus; as a result, bacteria from the anus can end up in the vagina and urethra. Also, women have a shorter urethra, which makes it easier for the bacteria to reach the bladder. This is why girls are always advised to wipe from front to back after using the washroom. This helps to prevent the bacteria from anus enter the vagina and up to the urethra. Another common cause of UTIs in women is sex. During sex, bacteria from genital areas and anus can enter urethra and bladder causing UTI. Sexually active women are more likely to get UTIs. UTIs are not contagious, and you cannot get it from your partner.
The common symptoms of urinary tract infection are – burning sensation while urinating, frequent urination, pain in the lower abdomen, cloudy urine, sudden urge to urinate, loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence), strong urine odor, and vaginal irritation. If you have any of these symptoms, immediately visit a doctor. Your doctor will prescribe you antibiotics to treat the infection. It is also advised to drink lots of water as it helps to clean the bladder.
Impact of urine infections on periods
- UTIs can be uncomfortable and painful, but a UTI cannot directly affect your period. So UTIs don’t make your periods late. However, stress can affect your menstrual cycle and can stress you out. Stress caused by the infection can indirectly affect your cycle resulting in late or missed periods.
- Getting your periods when you have a UTI can be tough. You will have to be more mindful about personal hygiene. Make sure you change the sanitary napkin often and keep the vagina clean. Use good quality sanitary pads and avoid using tampons as it can aggravate the UTI symptoms.
- Some women prefer having sex during periods to avoid getting pregnant. Sex is a common cause of UTI which makes women having sex during periods more prone to UTIs.
Some standard measures that you can take to avoid UTIs are –
- always wipe from front to back after urinating and bowel movement,
- pee after intercourse,
- wash the genitals after sex to clear out bacteria,
- avoid holding urine for long periods of time,
- drink lots of water,
- keep the genitals clean and dry,
- during periods change your sanitary napkin or tampon frequently and
- Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice also helps prevent UTIs.