Things you should know about UTIs
We’ve been there. Rushing to the toilet with an urge to pee, worried that you can’t unzip your jeans fast enough. But when you try to pee, all that comes out is a tiny amount of urine that stings and burns like no other. Ugh, not another UTI! You may already be familiar with that scenario, but how much do you really know about UTIs?
A Urinary Tract infection, or UTI, is an infection that occurs in any part of the urinary system, which includes the bladder, urethra, and kidneys. They can be extremely uncomfortable. UTIs are very common, with 10-50% of the population experiencing at least one in their lifetime. So let’s learn a bit more about what causes them, what treatments are available, and how to prevent them.
How do you get a UTI?
UTIs can be caused by a number of factors. One common cause of UTIs is E. coli bacteria from feces entering the urethra. This typically occurs when you wipe from back to front. Yep, you read that right. UTIs can also occur from bacteria entering your urethra during sex. Additionally, pregnancy, certain medical conditions, or obstructions that prevent the flow of urine can also contribute to UTIs. Finally, some people may just be genetically predisposed to UTIs due to the shape of their anatomy. Thanks, parents!
How do I know if I have a UTI?
UTI symptoms include:
- A burning sensation while urinating
- Frequent urges to pee with little coming out
- Cloudy, dark, bloody, or foul-smelling urine
- Fever or chills
- Pain in the abdomen or back
If you suspect you have a UTI, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor. They can perform tests to confirm the presence of bacteria and determine where the infection is. UTIs can be very serious if left untreated.
Types of UTIs
Did you know that there are different types of UTIs? Mind blown. Depending on the location of the infection, the type of infection and symptoms can vary.
- Bladder infection: Also known as cystitis. Symptoms include dark, cloudy, urine, a frequent urge to urinate, painful urination, and abdomen pain.
- Urethra infection: Also known as urethritis. This can cause a stinging sensation and discharge when peeing.
- Kidney infection: Also known as pyelonephritis. Can cause fever, chills, nausea, and pain in the back or sides.
Common UTI Treatments
If you’ve ever had a UTI, you’ve probably been desperate enough to try anything. Let’s talk about some UTI treatment options and bust some UTI myths.
Do cranberries help UTIs? Maybe. Here’s what you need to know before you head out to the store for some cranberry juice. Cranberries contain nutrients that make it difficult for E. coli to stick to the walls of the urinary tract. However, the effectiveness of this remedy can vary for each person. Be sure to check with your doctor before chugging cranberry juice!
Should I pee after sex? Yes! As much as you may not want to think about it, bacteria can spread during sex. Peeing afterward can help flush some bacteria out. This may not prevent all UTIs (and will not prevent pregnancy or STIs), but it doesn’t hurt!
Does holding your pee cause UTIs? Yes and no. Having a full bladder in itself does not cause a UTI, but if there is any bacteria in your urinary tract, holding your pee can allow for the bacteria to multiply, which could cause a UTI. Let’s not take any risks here!
What else can I do to prevent a UTI?
- Always wipe from the front to back to prevent the spread of bacteria.
- Change your menstrual cup or disc, tampon, pad, or period underwear frequently.
- Avoid douching or using deodorants near your vulva.
- Drink plenty of water to flush out bacteria in your urinary tract.
UTIs are no fun, and can lead to serious problems if left untreated. UTI treatment can look different for everyone. Options vary from supplements to over-the-counter remedies to prescription medications and antibiotics. Always check with your doctor to see what they suggest.