Most women miss their periods due to pregnancy; however, other underlying health conditions can also cause menstrual irregularities. If you have missed your period, but you know you are not pregnant, you might wonder if a sexually transmitted infection (STI) could be the cause.
The most common STIs do not typically cause noticeable symptoms. Because of STIs’ prevalence and their symptomless nature, they are often called the “silent epidemic,” and millions of people are unknowingly infected with them.
So how would you know if you have contracted an STI? Can chlamydia and other STIs make you miss your period? STIs usually do not cause missed periods until they have progressed to a severe infection called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which we will discuss in this article.
We will also examine the most common STIs, symptoms, and how they can impact your period.
Sexually Transmitted Infections Are Common
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the incidence of STIs is at an all-time high. There are 20 million new STI cases in the United States each year. Half of those new cases are in sexually active people between the ages of 15-24, even though that age group only makes up one-quarter of the population.
You have probably heard about chlamydia and gonorrhea, but did you know that there are other STIs that are much more common? In fact, human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STI, with over 79 million infected Americans, most of them in their teens or early twenties.
The second most common STI is genital herpes, followed by trichomoniasis. Among the STIs required to be reported to the CDC, chlamydia is the most commonly reported, and gonorrhea is the second most reported. The CDC does not require that HPV, genital herpes, or trichomoniases cases be reported, but some states might still require reporting.
It is essential to understand that any sexually active person can contract an STI. It is impossible to really know another person’s sexual history, so even if you have been committed to one partner, STI screening is crucial for your health. It can help you detect an STI before it leads to PID or other life-threatening health problems.
What Is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)?
PID is a serious infection of a woman’s reproductive system that can be caused by an untreated STI. It happens when sexually transmitted bacteria travel up your reproductive tract from your vagina on to your uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. Long-term complications from PID can include:
- Scarring in fallopian tubes
- Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in a fallopian tube)
- Infertility (inability to conceive a child)
- Chronic pelvic pain
PID is treatable with antibiotics, but the damage it caused can remain. If the PID infection is not treated and spreads to the bloodstream, it becomes life-threatening, so it is critical to accurately diagnose PID and STIs before they progress further.
STI Screening and Symptoms
The insidious thing about STIs is that they usually do not cause noticeable symptoms, so STI screening is critical. The CDC recommends that all sexually active women under age 25 be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea every year. Women aged 25 and older should also get tested yearly if they have risk factors such as new or multiple partners.
- Chlamydia: According to Mayo Clinic, the only way to prevent chlamydia is to abstain from sexual activities since it is spread from person to person through sexual contact.
Chlamydia is called the “silent disease” because most people do not experience symptoms. Less than 25 percent of women notice an abnormal vaginal discharge or a burning sensation when they urinate. Chlamydia typically does not make you miss your period.
Unfortunately, when chlamydia is left untreated, it can cause serious and permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system. Untreated chlamydia can travel up the reproductive tract and progress to PID, which sometimes makes women miss their periods.
The good news is you can test for chlamydia simply with a quick urine sample. If the infection is caught early, a course of antibiotics will cure it. Having chlamydia does not make you immune; you can catch it again.
- Gonorrhea: Like chlamydia, gonorrhea can be cured with prescription medication. It is also easy to test for with a urine sample. Gonorrhea is also spread through sexual contact, and the only way to prevent it is not to have sexual contact with another person.
Most women do not have symptoms with gonorrhea. If they do, they are mild and often mistaken for a bladder or mild yeast infection and do not usually cause missed periods, unless the STI progresses to PID.
If you have gonorrhea, it is dangerous to leave it untreated because it can spread to your blood or joints. It can also cause permanent pain and damage to your reproductive system and increase your risk of contracting HIV. It can also lead to heart valve damage.
- HPV: HPV is so common that over 80% of women will get at least one of the more than 100 types of HPV viruses. There are 14 million new cases of HPV each year.
HPV typically does not cause any symptoms and goes away on its own. It does not make you miss your period, but it can cause spotting between periods. It can cause cervical cancer, genital warts, and other health problems if it does not go away. Pap tests can detect HPV because they identify cellular changes on the cervix.
The way to prevent HPV is not to have sexual contact with another person or consider getting the HPV vaccine.
Can Chlamydia and Other STIs Make You Miss Your Period?
Hopefully, the information we presented here has helped you understand STIs, symptoms, and how they can impact your period. To summarize, STIs usually won’t make you miss your period, but it is more likely if an untreated STI has progressed to PID. In addition to missed periods, PID can also cause spotting between periods.
Reach Out to Willow Womens Center
If you have missed your period, Willow Womens Center can help. We care about your health and are committed to providing quality medical services at no cost. We understand that the thought of pregnancy or STI testing can be scary, but you can rest assured that we will compassionately guide you each step of the way. Get the answers you deserve by making a confidential appointment today.