Your Period and UTIs: What You Need to Know

Jun 21, 2024
woman in high wasted menstrual underwear

On average, people who menstruate will have 450 periods over their lifetime. That means our monthly cycles become a totally normal part of our lives for about 37 years.

We’re so used to the ups and downs that we don’t realize how much we go through each month. But our monthly cycles involve great hormonal shifts and fluctuations. These changes can affect the body's hormonal balance and influence vaginal pH levels, which in turn can impact the bacterial balance in your urinary tract.

Understanding these dynamics is key to reducing your risk of developing a UTI during your period. Let’s dig in to better understand how this works and how you can manage these risks effectively:

How Your Period Alters Vaginal pH and What It Means for UTIs

Let’s start at the beginning. What are pH levels? They tell us how acidic or basic a substance is on a scale from 0 to 14 (the scales goes chronologically from acidic, like lemon juice, to basic, like baking soda).

How this relates to menstrual cycles and increased risk of UTIs is that a good bacteria, called Lactobacillus, produces lactic acid within the vagina that helps maintain a typical pH ranges of 3.8 - 4.5. Acidity helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, which can ultimately reduce the risk of infection.

But when you’re on your period, the pH levels in your vagina become slightly less acidic due to the presence of blood (which has a higher pH). This has the potential to disrupt the natural balance of bacteria which would make it easier for unwanted bacteria to proliferate.

Avoid UTI triggers: Choose the right menstrual products

A lot of the standard drug store menstrual products contain fragrances and dyes that are not only unnecessary but can cause irritation around the sensitive skin of the vaginal and urethral areas. This can potentially lead to discomfort and an increased likelihood of developing a UTI.

Additionally, some pads and tampons are made from synthetic fibers that are treated with chemicals like chlorine, which can leave residues that may disrupt the vaginal pH and irritate the urinary tract. Recognizing these potential irritants is the first step toward making better choices for your menstrual health."

Maintaining vaginal health with your period

To help maintain a healthy vaginal pH during your period, focus on these key practices: First, choose menstrual products wisely—opt for unscented, organic cotton tampons, pads, or consider using a menstrual cup, as these options are less likely to cause irritation and disrupt pH levels.

Second, make sure to change your menstrual products frequently, ideally every 4 to 6 hours, to prevent bacterial buildup. Staying hydrated is also crucial; drinking plenty of water helps dilute your urine and encourages frequent urination, which flushes bacteria from the urinary tract.

Lastly, practicing good hygiene during menstruation, such as washing your hands before and after changing your menstrual products and wiping from front to back, can significantly reduce the risk of introducing harmful bacteria into the vaginal area.

Break The UTI Cycle:

3 REASONS WHY EVERYTHING YOU'VE TRIED HASN'T WORKED

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