Why tampons cause UTIs?


Can tampons cause UTIs? Before answering this question lets explore the complete link. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are widespread, affecting millions of individuals each year. They occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract, typically the urethra or bladder, and multiply, causing inflammation and discomfort. Symptoms include burning urination, frequent urination, urgency, and sometimes pain in the lower abdomen or back.

Many women experience discomfort similar to UTIs during their periods, leading to confusion and concern. Understanding the connection between UTIs and menstrual products is crucial for proper hygiene, UTI prevention, and comfortable periods.

Why Do I Feel Like I Have a UTI on My Period?

Both UTIs and menstruation can cause similar symptoms, making it difficult to differentiate. Both can involve:

Burning urination

This can be caused by inflammation in the urethra.

Urgency and frequency

Increased bladder stimulation can occur in both cases.

Pelvic pain

Menstrual cramps and UTI discomfort can radiate to the lower abdomen.

Hormonal changes during menstruation and their impact on urinary tract health

Hormonal fluctuations during your period can make you more susceptible to UTIs. Lower estrogen levels can thin the urethra’s lining, making it more vulnerable to bacterial invasion.

Increased susceptibility to UTIs during menstruation:

Certain activities during your period may increase UTI risk

Frequent pad changes

Wiping back-to-front can introduce bacteria near the urethra.

Holding urine

This allows bacteria to multiply in the bladder.


Lack of fluids concentrates urine, creating a favorable environment for bacteria.

Is it Better to Wear Pads or Tampons When You Have a UTI?

Comparison of pads and tampons in relation to UTI risk:

There’s no definitive answer as both have pros and cons:


May trap moisture and irritate the vulva, potentially pushing bacteria closer to the urethra. However, they allow easy access for cleaning and prevent pressure on the urethra.


Can irritate the urethra if inserted incorrectly or left in too long, potentially pushing bacteria upwards. However, they don’t trap moisture and offer leak-proof protection.

Factors to consider when choosing menstrual products during a UTI:

Severity of UTI

For severe UTIs, pads might be preferred for easier hygiene and to avoid irritation.

Personal preference and comfort

Choose what feels most comfortable and allows for frequent, thorough cleaning.

Doctor’s recommendation

Consult your doctor for personalized advice based on your specific situation.

Recommendations from healthcare professionals:

Focus on good hygiene

Cleanse the genital area gently with warm water and pat dry, regardless of the product used.

Change pads or tampons frequently

Every 4-6 hours, or more often if needed.

Urinate frequently and completely

Don’t hold your urine, and empty your bladder fully when using the restroom.

Drink plenty of fluids

Stay hydrated to flush out bacteria from the urinary tract.

UTI from Tampon Left in Too Long

Leaving a tampon in for longer than its recommended use (usually 8 hours) can:

Increase bacterial growth

The warm, moist environment within the vagina becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.

Irritate the vaginal tissues

This can damage the natural barrier against bacteria, making you more susceptible to infection.

Push bacteria towards the urethra

As the tampon expands, it might push bacteria closer to the urinary tract opening.

Potential risks and complications associated with prolonged tampon use:

Increased UTI risk

The most common complication is a UTI.

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)

Though rare, TSS is a serious, life-threatening condition associated with prolonged tampon use and requires immediate medical attention.

Tips for preventing UTIs related to tampon use:

Follow the recommended wear time

Never exceed the tampon’s suggested use time.

Use the appropriate absorbency

Choose tampons suitable for your flow to avoid changing them less frequently.

Alternate with pads

Consider using pads during the night or heavy flow days to allow for longer change intervals.

Listen to your body

If you experience discomfort, remove the tampon and switch to another method.

How to Deal with a UTI on Your Period 

Start antibiotic treatment prescribed by your doctor

Follow the medication course exactly as instructed.

Maintain good hygiene

Continue frequent cleaning with warm water and patting dry.

Increase fluid intake

Aim for even more fluids than usual to flush out bacteria.

Consider pain relief medication

Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can help manage discomfort.

Use a heating pad

Apply a low-heat setting to your lower abdomen for temporary pain relief.

Importance of proper hygiene and hydration:

As mentioned earlier, proper hygiene practices and adequate hydration are crucial for managing UTIs during menstruation.

When to seek medical attention:

  • If symptoms persist or worsen despite treatment.
  • If you experience fever, chills, nausea, or vomiting.
  • If you experience blood in your urine.

Can I Wear a Tampon with a UTI?

While there’s no absolute rule against tampons during UTIs, it’s generally discouraged due to potential risks:

  • Increased irritation: Tampons might further irritate the already inflamed urethra, worsening discomfort.
  • Potential for trapped bacteria: Tampons could trap bacteria near the urethra, hindering their removal through urination.

Alternatives to tampons during UTIs:

  • Pads: These allow for easier hygiene and reduce pressure on the urethra, making them a better choice during UTIs.
  • Menstrual cups: These reusable cups collect menstrual fluid instead of absorbing it, offering a comfortable and potentially more hygienic option during UTIs, but proper cleaning and insertion are crucial.

Guidance from healthcare providers:

Consult your doctor for personalized advice regarding tampon use during a UTI. They can consider factors like UTI severity and recommend the safest and most comfortable option for you.

Can Tampons Cause UTIs?

Tampons themselves don’t directly cause UTIs. However, improper use can increase your susceptibility:

  • Leaving tampons in too long: This creates a breeding ground for bacteria as discussed earlier.
  • Incorrect insertion: Pushing the tampon too high or at an angle can irritate the urethra and nearby tissues, increasing vulnerability.
  • Unclean hands or applicators: Introduce bacteria near the vagina and urethra during insertion.

Factors influencing the likelihood of infection from tampon use:

  • Frequency of changing tampons: Changing them every 4-6 hours is crucial to prevent bacterial overgrowth.
  • Personal hygiene practices: Washing hands before and after handling tampons is essential.
  • Individual susceptibility: Some women are naturally more prone to UTIs than others.

Safety measures and best practices for tampon users:

  • Follow recommended wear times: Don’t exceed the stated duration.
  • Choose the right absorbency: Use tampons suitable for your flow to avoid infrequent changes.
  • Practice proper hygiene: Wash hands thoroughly before and after insertion.
  • Insert correctly: Ensure the tampon sits comfortably without putting pressure on the urethra.
  • Consider alternatives during UTIs: Pads or menstrual cups might be better choices during infections.

Can Period Pads Cause UTI?

Pads themselves don’t directly cause UTIs. However, improper hygiene practices associated with pad use can increase your risk:

  • Infrequent pad changes: Leaving a pad on for extended periods can trap moisture and create a favorable environment for bacteria.
  • Improper wiping technique: Wiping back-to-front can transfer bacteria from the anus to the urethra.

Hygiene practices related to pad usage and UTI prevention:

  • Change pads frequently: Every 4-6 hours or more often if needed.
  • Wipe front-to-back: This helps prevent bacteria from spreading towards the urethra.
  • Cleanse the genital area: Use warm water and gentle soap during pad changes.

Expert recommendations on minimizing UTI risk while using pads:

  • Choose breathable materials: Opt for cotton pads that allow air circulation.
  • Avoid scented or heavily fragranced pads: These can irritate the vulva and disrupt the natural balance of vaginal flora.
  • Consider changing to tampons or menstrual cups: If you experience recurrent UTIs and find pad use difficult to manage hygienically, discuss alternative options with your doctor.

Can Wearing a Pad Everyday Cause UTI

Increased moisture and irritation 

Constant pad use can trap moisture and irritate the vulva, potentially making the area more susceptible to infection if proper hygiene is neglected.

Importance of air circulation

Wearing pads continuously can limit air circulation, hindering the natural drying process and potentially creating a favorable environment for bacterial growth.

Hygiene tips for daily pad wearers

  • Change pads daily, even if not actively menstruating: This prevents moisture buildup and potential irritation.
  • Choose breathable cotton pads: Allow for better air circulation and reduce the risk of irritation.
  • Practice good hygiene: Cleanse the genital area daily with warm water and gentle soap, especially during pad changes.
  • Listen to your body: If you experience any discomfort, redness, or itching, discontinue pad use and consult your doctor.

Balancing comfort and UTI prevention in daily menstrual care routines

Ultimately, the best menstrual care routine depends on individual comfort and susceptibility to UTIs. Consider:

  • Experimenting with different products: Find what works best for you in terms of comfort and hygiene.
  • Consulting your doctor: Discuss your concerns and preferences with your doctor for personalized guidance, especially if you have a history of recurrent UTIs.
  • Prioritizing hygiene: Regardless of the product you choose, maintaining proper hygiene is crucial for preventing UTIs and maintaining overall health.

Also Read: Pre-Employment Drug Test While on Your Period: Everything You Need to Know 


UTIs are common, but not directly caused by tampons or pads.

Improper hygiene and certain practices during menstruation can increase UTI risk.

Choose menstrual products that suit your comfort and prioritize regular changes and proper hygiene.

Consult your doctor for personalized advice and management of UTIs during menstruation.

Don’t hesitate to seek help from your doctor if you experience symptoms of a UTI or have concerns about managing your period while having a UTI.

Understanding the link between menstrual products, hygiene, and UTIs empowers you to make informed decisions about your menstrual care routine and maintain good health throughout your cycle.

Written by

Dr Hoorain

Hoorain Batul is a passionate and experienced writer specializing in gynecology, obstetrics, fashion, and women's wellness. Hailing from Pakistan, she holds an MBBS degree, having completed her studies in 2011, and has furthered her expertise with FCPS Part 1 and 2. With a deep understanding of women's health and a keen eye for fashion, Hoorain brings a unique perspective to her content, providing valuable insights and empowering women with knowledge to lead healthier and more fashionable lives. Her content is a hub of informative and engaging articles, catering to the diverse needs of women worldwide.