Let's be honest — having to deal with a urinary tract infection (UTI) is not anyone's idea of a good time. But, getting a UTI while on hormonal birth control can definitely make you extra nervous. In addition to all of the unpleasant symptoms that accompany a UTI, you now also have to consider: does a UTI affect your birth control? Will your UTI medication interact negatively with your birth control drugs? And what about contraception? Should you be using a backup, and if so, for how long?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a UTI is an infection in any part of your bladder. UTIs don't always cause symptoms, but when they do, they can include a feeling of having to urinate frequently, or pain while doing so. A woman's anatomy makes UTIs fairly easy to contract, and so, they are the second most common infection among women behind colds and the flu, noted Parents.
If you have a UTI, your doctor will likely prescribe an antibiotic to get rid of the infection. As noted by the Office of Women's Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, if a UTI is left untreated, it can spread and affect other parts of your body, including your blood or kidneys.
Unfortunately, as mentioned by Women's Health, certain antibiotics can affect the efficacy of your hormonal birth control. According to Columbia University's Go Ask Alice (a site supported by Columbia University health professionals), certain antibiotics can actually decrease the estrogen and progestin levels in your body, which can, in turn, make your birth control much less effective. As a result, you may need to use an alternative form of contraception for the time being, or take a higher or lower dose of your birth control pill while on antibiotics.
It's important to discuss all of this with your doctor in order to ensure safe usage of all medications. They will be able to provide appropriate recommendations for the treatment of your UTI, as well as the safest and most effective way to prevent pregnancy while on antibiotics (if that's your intention). But, as the saying goes, when in doubt, call for back up.