Female, Female Sexual Health, Female Sexual Hygiene, Sexual wellness

All you need to know about urinary tract infections

There is a reason why Indian women dread road trips- and it isn’t motion sickness or being confined in a metal cage for hours at end, it is the fear of having to use a public restroom and contracting god knows how many infections. Urinary tract infections are a dreaded word for women all over the world. Doctors suggest that as a woman your lifetime risk of getting a UTI is as high as 1 in 2. Many women keep suffering repeatedly from the infection without even realizing it.

What are UTIs?

Urinary tract infections occur when one or more parts of your urinary tract such as kidney, bladder, urethra, or ureter become infected with a pathogen. This pathogen is most likely to be a bacterium. Most UTIs are caused by bacteria that enter your urethra and then also your bladder. UTIs usually occur when bacteria- usually E. Coli that live in your digestive system spread to your urethra. The urethra is the tube that transports your urine from the urinary bladder and expels it outside your body.
UTISome of the symptoms of urinary tract infection are the same as those of sexually transmitted diseases. The major difference is that STDs involve a fluid or pus discharge which is absent in a UTI. Some women get infected right after sex- this infection is called honeymoon cystitis. It is because of this that doctors suggest emptying your bladder after sex.
Most UTIs can be completely eliminated if the proper treatment is given but sometimes they can reach up to your kidney and lead to serious illness. Women have a greater risk of being affected by UTIs because they have shorter urethras and the invading bacterium needs to travel a shorter distance to gain access to the bladder.
Risk factors for contracting a UTI
You are at risk of contracting a UTI if you are pregnant or if you suffer from diabetes. Having kidney stones or kidney blockage too can increase the risk of infection. Age too seems to make you vulnerable to infection. Having an immune disorder can compromise your immunity and likewise up the risk of getting a UTI. Women who use a diaphragm as birth control are at higher risk.

How to know if you have a UTI?

Bladder infection is the most common type of UTI. Some common symptoms to look out for are:

  • Foul or strong odor in urine
  • Itching during urination accompanied by pain or burning
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Feeling the need to urinate frequently despite having just emptied your bladder- urinary urgency
  • The need to wake up to urinate at night
  • Fevers or rashes
  • Lower back and abdominal pain
  • Feeling constantly tired and lethargic
  • Nausea and vomiting

Protecting yourself from a UTI

Here is a list of ways to keep UTIs at bay.
1. Avoid using chemicals
Stay away from using scented sprays, soaps, and scented bath products or touching your genitals. They may just cause more irritation if you have a UTI or cause you to get one if you don’t.
2.Switch your method of birth control
You may want to switch your birth control if you are using a diaphragm, spermicidal cream or jelly, or an unlubricated condom. An unlubricated condom can actually end up irritating your vagina during sex. Diaphragms can put pressure on the urethra and therefore push bacteria into it.
3.Good genital hygiene
Keep your genital region dry. Wear comfortable cotton underwear to allow your skin to breathe. Avoid tight jeans or pants as they trap moisture.
4.drinking waterDrinking water
Drink lots of fluids especially water. The more fluid you drink, the more you will need to pee. And that will flush the bacteria out of your system.
5.Wipe the right way
Wipe your urethra from front to back after urination. This can prevent bacteria from spreading. Wiping from back to front can carry the bacteria from the bowel to your urethra.
6.Stop holding your pee
Empty your bladder completely and regularly. If you don’t use the restroom frequently, the urine will just keep sitting in your bladder. And so will the bacteria.
Your physician is the best person to guide you through your infection. In case you feel you are infected, immediately go to your doctor. Your doctor will conduct a urine culture test and put you on antibiotics. If you do ignore the warning signs, the infection could spread to your kidneys. And you want these important filtering sites to function properly.

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