Since being diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome last year, I've had three urinary tract infections. Is there any evidence that Sjogren's syndrome causes recurrent UTIs?

Answers from April Chang-Miller, M.D.

No, but Sjogren's syndrome can cause symptoms that you might mistake for a urinary tract infection (UTI). Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disorder in which the moisture-secreting glands of the eyes and mouth became inflamed, producing fewer tears and less saliva.

For women, Sjogren's syndrome can also cause vaginal dryness — which may result in discomfort during sexual intercourse and an increase in the risk of bacterial and fungal vaginal infections. Painful urination, a common symptom of UTIs, also can occur with vaginal infections.

Some women who have Sjogren's syndrome develop a condition called painful bladder syndrome, also known as interstitial cystitis. This condition causes symptoms similar to those of a urinary tract infection — urinary frequency, urgency and pain — without evidence of infection.

Feb. 12, 2013 See more Expert Answers