Why do I keep getting UTIs?
Pretty much anyone with a vagina will know how painful UTIs can be, so we’re calling time on the ‘just put up with it’ mentality and looking into how we can actively avoid them— because no one should have to scream while they pee. And that’s a fact.
So, what actually is a UTI? It’s a simple (but effing painful) case of an infection in part of your urinary system. Most of these infections are in your lower urinary tract – your bladder and urethra – and they’re painful, annoying, and can impact your daily life and sexual enjoyment. We’re not about that.
But maybe the most shocking thing about UTIs is how common they are. At least half of all women will contract a urinary tract infection at some point in their lifetime. So why are we not talking more about them?
How they feel
If you’re reading this, then you probably already know. It’s that familiar feeling of a frequent need to urinate yet passing very little urine. Your urine might also be cloudy, strong-smelling, or blood-tinged. Often UTIs can return within six months.
How they crop up
There are a few reasons women are much more prone to UTIs than men. Yay. But it’s nothing to do with poor hygiene or anything like that. So don’t be ashamed when you get a UTI. It’s simply ANOTHER biological fact that we ladies have to deal with. Women have shorter urethras than men, so that means they're immediately at greater risk of UTIs than men. “Recurrent UTIs aren't due to poor hygiene or something else that women have brought on themselves. Some women are just prone to UTIs," says infectious diseases specialist Dr. Kalpana Gupta, a lecturer in medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Infections of the bladder (cystitis) are usually caused by a specific type of bacteria found in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This can easily be carried from the rectum to the vagina, where it enters the urethra.
How we can avoid them
One of the first things we’re taught is to wipe front to back. While this is excellent advice, it’s actually not been scientifically proven to make a difference with UTIs! Who knew?!
We still think that’s good advice, but here’s some more:
- Pee. Some doctors recommend peeing before sex to lower the risk of a UTI. And many recommend peeing after sex to "self-clean." However, there’s no need to force it. If you don’t need to go, don’t push hard, relax a bit, and go when you need to. There’s no alarm clock going off, which means you’ve got to go immediately.
- Have a quick rinse with some warm plain water after sex. This will prevent any bacteria from hanging around. Plus will feel more comfortable when you get back into bed.
- Avoid douching. Some women think that cleaning the inside of their vaginas is the way to go, but it upsets the natural bacteria and can encourage UTIs to develop.
- Stay away from spermicides. Switch condoms or contraceptive devices if the one you’re using seems to be giving you issues.
Can doing Kegels increase your chances of UTIs?
Kegel exercises are a great way to stay healthy and maintain bladder control. So just keep your pelvic floor trainer clean, and there’s no need to worry.
The DL on UTIs
Although there is lots of talk online about soothing UTIs at home, make sure you go to a doctor when you feel any discomfort. Ultimately, it’s fine to try drinking gallons of cranberry juice just as a starting point, but you should still see a doctor to double-check and be safe.