Are Your Tampons or Pads Causing Urinary Tract Infection?

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is no joke. It results in 8 to 10 million doctors' office visits each year in the United States, and at least 50 percent of women will have at least one urinary tract infection at some point in their lives.

The symptoms of a urinary tract infection can be stubborn and can persist after treatment. Sometimes an infection recurs a few weeks after treatment. Nearly 20 percent of women who have a urinary tract infection will have another, and 30 percent of those who have had two will have a third.

For some women, it’s almost a constant nuisance. Too many simply learn to live with regularly recurring urinary tract infections. One friend told once compared UTI to a period: “It’s part of being a woman; you just got to accept it and live with it”, she said. 

So, is it true? Can UTIs be prevented? Is it possible that your choice of feminine hygiene products plays a role in whether you’re going to get a urinary tract infection?

First, let’s look at the causes of UTI. Most urinary tract infections are caused by a variety of bacteria, including Escherichia coli (E. coli), found in feces. Because the openings of the bowel, vagina, and urethra are very close together, it's easy for the bacteria to spread to the urethra and travel up the urinary tract into the bladder and sometimes up to the kidneys.

Keeping it clean down there, wiping front to back, not using douches or wipes with fragrances are the first steps to UTI prevention. But what about those days when you have your period?

It turns out, those days can be crucial. While wearing a pad or a tampon by itself does not cause a urinary tract infection, what’s going on inside or around your pad or tampon can. 

Tampons and a UTI

While tampons do not cause UTIs, sometimes the use of tampons during infection can cause flare-ups. Not changing tampons at regular intervals during menstruation has also known to cause flare ups in UTI symptoms. Using tampons can encourage the bacteria to breed much faster. 

When you use a tampon, body liquids stay sealed inside for a long time. Upon contact with warmth and chemicals from hygiene products, a perfect environment for bacteria is created.

Some sources say that tampons can put extra pressure on your urethra through your vaginal walls which can in turn push bacteria inside your urethra. Generally, if you’re prone to UTI, avoid tampons or at least make sure you change them frequently. Never leave your tampon in for longer than 6 hours. 

Pads and a UTI

While maxi pads allow menstrual blood to flow down, poor quality, low-absorbency pads can still trigger a UTI or cause a flare-up if you’re prone to it. 

Just like tampons, pads are often made with tainted cotton and plastic ingredients. Sub-par quality ingredients help to create a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. In addition, low-quality materials usually mean poor absorbency. 

Low-absorbency means that your vulva, including your urinary meatus (external urethral orifice, aka pee hole) is more likely to be exposed to the bacteria. Naturally, bacteria can enter your urethra and cause a urinary tract infection. 

Infection occurs when the bacteria cling to the opening of the urethra and multiply, producing an infection of the urethra, called urethritis. The bacteria often spread up to the bladder, causing a bladder infection, called cystitis. Untreated, the infection can continue spreading up the urinary tract, causing infection in the kidneys. 

A kidney infection that is not treated can result in the bacteria entering the bloodstream (this is known as urosepsis), which can be a life-threatening infection requiring hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics.

Genial Day Difference

Genial Day pads are the most absorbent maxi pads made of organic cotton. Wonder just how absorbent our pads can be? Check out this mildly entertaining and mighty educational video! In addition to superior absorbency, Genial Day pads feature anion strip, which contains tourmaline -- a semi-precious stone. Tourmaline has natural antibacterial properties and protects intimate skin and reproductive system from ailments caused by bacteria common in tampons, pantiliners and pads. 

The strip helps to reduce unpleasant odor and bacterial growth; it provides a feeling of freshness, comfort and protects intimate skin and reproductive system from ailments caused by bacteria in the liners and pads.

While your menstrual pads, liners and tampons are probably not causing a UTI, they may contribute to flare-ups, including other menstruation-related problems such as excessive cramping and increased discomfort. So when it comes to choosing your intimate hygiene products, choose carefully and choose wisely!