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STDs and Periods: Can Having An STI Affect Your Cycle?

STDs and Periods: Can Having An STI Affect Your Cycle?

Written by Yoppie

21 Jan 2022

Can an STI or STD cause irregular or missed periods? 

What STIs or STDs could affect my period? 

Could it be serious?

I'm worried an STD or STI is causing my period changes: what now?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can understandably be a bit scary to those who have never had one before, and you may have a lot of questions. How will I know if I have one? Will everyone know that I have one?? How soon can I get rid of it?! Thankfully the internet is full to the brim with great info on all types of STIs and STDs, along with how to get any treatment you need. But there’s one question that has proved hard to find, so we thought we’d answer it right here on the Full Stop blog; could an STI or STD be the cause of your irregular or missed periods? Let’s find out…

Can an STI or STD cause irregular or missed periods? 

Frustratingly, some of the most common STIs don’t actually cause easily identifiable symptoms, which means they spread from partner to partner before anyone even realises they have one. Well played, infection. Well played…

Irregular or missed periods are a good indicator that something isn’t working as it should be in your body, but most STIs or STDs won’t affect your periods unless they progress to become a more severe infection. That said, in some cases STIs could cause the characteristics of your period to change, so keeping track of what yours typically looks and feels like is handy.  

What STIs or STDs could affect my period? 

The most common would be chlamydia. While chlamydia doesn’t typically cause missed periods, less than 25% of people with periods who have the infection may notice abnormal vaginal discharge, while others also report spotting. If you are experiencing either of these symptoms, it’s best to check this with your doctor to make sure everything is OK. 

Similarly, HPV (human papillomavirus) is a common infection that over 80% of people with periods will get at some point, and although it doesn’t cause symptoms and tends to go away on its own, it can cause spotting between periods. If this is the case for you, get checked over by your GP to ensure HPV doesn’t lead to long-term, more serious issues. 

Some other infections can cause unusual discharge (like trichomonas vaginalis) or bleeding after sex (like mycoplasma genitalium), so if in doubt about any of the symptoms you are experiencing, see your doctor to rule these conditions out. 

Could it be serious?

If you discover you may have an STI but aren’t experiencing any symptoms you may be tempted to avoid treatment, but not only will this cause the infection to spread to any sexual partners you have, it could also develop into something called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is a serious infection of the reproductive system. 

PID happens when sexually transmitted bacteria makes its way from the vagina up the reproductive tract and into the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries. If left untreated, it can cause long-term issues such as scarring of the fallopian tubes, fertility issues, chronic pelvic pain, and more. If left long enough, it can cause issues that can even lead to death, so it’s not something to take lightly. PID is easily treatable with antibiotics, but any damage it causes is often irreversible so the sooner you treat it, the better the outcome. 

Remember that infections like chlamydia, herpes or HPV (human papillomavirus) have also been found by studies to double the likelihood of someone having negative PMS effects like bad cramps, headaches, and feelings of depression or anxiety, so there’s a lot of damage STIs could be doing without you even knowing they exist inside your body. All the more reason to get tested for STIs regularly. 

I'm worried an STD or STI is causing my period changes: what now?

If you suspect an STI may be messing with your menstrual cycle, it’s best to get tested as soon as possible to rule it out as a possibility or to get started on treatment. You can do this by heading to the NHS website at this link to find your local STI clinic, where you can easily book a test. In most cases, testing involves taking a urine sample or a swab of the vagina, and they can test for a number of different infections all at once, so thankfully you don’t need to do multiple tests. You’ll be in and out in a jiffy. 

Although an in-person test is best, especially if you have symptoms, you can also order a free at-home test through services like SH24 and send samples to get results sent to your phone. STI testing is often seen as embarrassing, but it shouldn’t be. By getting tested, you are taking care of your body by figuring out the cause of your irregular or missed periods, while also ensuring the infection doesn’t spread to anyone else. Get tested, and get back to the menstrual cycle you know and love - or at least know and tolerate!

Got a question about STIs and periods? You can always find us and ask questions over at our Full Stop FB group, or reach out to us directly on Instagram at @itsyoppie.  Don't forget that our personalised period box can get organic tampons, PMS supplements and much more delivered easily and regularly through your letterbox, taking one big load about your cycle off your mind.

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