A UTI is a ‘urinary tract infection’ and is caused by a bacterial infection in the urinary tract. This condition is more common in women than in men owing to men having a longer urinary tract, though it can occur in both sexes. Half of women will experience a UTI at some point in their lives.
UTIs are unpleasant conditions that can cause burning during urination, stomach ache, frequent urination, pain during intercourse and blood and puss in the urine. Fortunately, they’re also often harmless when they occur in the lower tract and will go away after a few weeks.
What to Do If You Have a UTI
If you find yourself with the symptoms of a lower UTI, then the first thing you should always do is to book yourself an appointment with the doctor. In all likelihood, this is not an urgent condition and you don’t need to visit the emergency room. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to see your doctor to rule out the possibility that your symptoms might be caused by other conditions (such as stones) and to ascertain whether you may need antibiotics. A doctor will take a urine sample and will use this to identify the presence of bacteria.
If you do indeed have a UTI, then you may be offered antibiotics – especially if you have signs of an infection such as a fever. Otherwise, they may conclude that you’re better off waiting it out and in that case you can encourage rapid healing by drinking plenty of water to flush out your system. Drinking cranberry juice may also help according to some sufferers (though this is not backed by any studies).
Why Do You Keep Getting UTIs?
For some women, UTIs are a rather inconvenient, regular occurrence. If you find yourself repeatedly suffering with UTIs, then there are a number of potential causes.
One of the most common causes of UTIs is sex. In fact, 75-90% of cases of UTI in sexually active women are caused this way. More frequent sex increases the likelihood of an infection too. Older women are also more likely to experience this, as a decrease in oestrogen associated with menopauses causes the reduction of protective vaginal flora.
Women are advised to go to the toilet following sex which can help to ‘clear out’ the urinary tract and thus prevent an infection. It is also important to always wipe from the front to the back, which avoids fluids being wiped into the urinary tract.
Of course hygiene is also important and it’s recommended that you wash thoroughly before sex if either partner is very sweaty or has reason to believe they may be unclean. This may kill the mood somewhat but it’s certainly less of a buzz kill than burning urine and blood in the pee!