Can a UTI affect a pregnancy test result?

A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is a term given to an infection caused by a kind of micro-organism called E. coli. They are caused by a bacterial aggravation in the urinary tract and are more common in women than in men due to our shorter urethras. They occur when the bacteria enter the urethra and they can affect the kidneys and bladder. But can a UTI affect a pregnancy test result?

A UTI can be uncomfortable and even painful. It is useful to know what you’re looking for if you think you might have one. Some common symptoms of a UTI are;

  • A burning sensation when you urinate.
  • Frequent urges to urinate, even if little or nothing comes out.
  • Low back pain.
  • Dark colored urine.
  • Strange smelling urine.
  • A high fever.

Urinary tract infections can be quite common in pregnancy and in severe cases can cause some complications with your pregnancy. For this reason, avoidance is better than cure. While there is no sure-fire way to completely avoid a UTI, there are some measures you can take that will lessen your chances of getting one, or lessen the severity of one if you were to be unfortunate enough to get one. Some ways to do this are;

  1. Drink plenty of water.

It’s always a good idea to keep yourself hydrated, but even more important in pregnancy when you are more susceptible to things like UTI’s. Drinking plenty of water will help flush out your system and keep your kidneys in good working order.

  1. Drink cranberry juice.

Cranberry juice is full of antioxidants so it is really good for you, but it also contains compounds that make it difficult for bacteria to stick to the wall of the urinary tract. Drinking just one glass of cranberry juice a day will help prevent a UTI.

  1. Urinate after sex.

Peeing after sexual intercourse can help get rid of any bacteria that may have been pushed in there during sex.

  1. Practice good hygiene.

Wipe from front to back after peeing, this prevents any bacteria from your rectum from getting in to your vagina.

Can a UTI cause a false positive pregnancy test?

A false positive means that the test indicates that you are pregnant when, in fact, you are not. Home pregnancy tests detect the presence of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) in the urine. Urinary Tract Infections do not cause or effect this hormone, and so it isn’t thought that the presence of a UTI will cause a false positive.

However, in the earliest stages of pregnancy, the HCG hormone is much less concentrated. This, tied with more frequent urination and sickness associated with early pregnancy, can dilute your urine making it more difficult for a test to pick up on the hormone. This can lead to a false negative result. For this reason, it is always best to test with the first pee of the day as this will be more concentrated, lessening the risk of a false negative.

A UTI can cause some pregnancy like symptoms. If you’re within two weeks of starting your period and start to notice some of these symptoms, it could be a combination of pre-menstrual symptoms and a urinary tract infection mimicking pregnancy. Other factors such as stress, medication and even weight gain can mess with your cycle. This is why it is best to wait until your period is actually late, even by a day or two, before testing.

What can cause a positive pregnancy test besides pregnancy?

False positive results on a pregnancy test are much less common than a false negative result. This is because it is rare that the test will pick up on the HCG hormone when there is none present. There are, however, some rare instances when a false positive can occur.

  1. Certain medications.

Some medications, including some anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and methadone, can cause a false positive result. Also, if you have been taking some fertility treatments, these may contain synthetic HCG, which can also cause a false positive result.

  1. Evaporation lines

Evaporation lines are colorless lines that sometimes appear on the test. If the extra line is brightly colored and clearly visible, it is likely a positive. But a colorless or grey line is likely to be an evaporation line.

  1. Chemical pregnancy.

Chemical pregnancies can occur when the sperm fertilizes the egg, but the fertilized egg doesn’t stick to the wall of the uterus and falls away. This happens very early on in your cycle and a lot of women who have a chemical pregnancy may not even know it if they haven’t tested.

  1. An ectopic pregnancy.

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg implants and grows in the fallopian tubes. In the early stages, you may take a test and see a positive result, but an ectopic pregnancy cannot continue on to become a ‘normal’ pregnancy, thus, is not a viable pregnancy.

  1. Recent loss of pregnancy.

If you’ve recently had a miscarriage or abortion and have a positive pregnancy test, it may be remnants of your previous pregnancy still in your body. If you have recently had a loss of pregnancy and are still having positive pregnancy tests, it is best to see your primary care-giver who will be able to further assist you.

An inaccurate pregnancy test result can be upsetting and disheartening, especially if you have been trying to conceive for some time. If you feel that your tests are not giving you accurate results, it is best to seek some professional medical advice to put your mind at ease.

See also: Is bright yellow urine a sign of pregnancy?