About Urinary Tract Infections
The urinary system is composed of ureters, bladder, urethra, and kidneys. A urinary tract infection (UTI) starts in your urinary system. An infection can happen in any part of the urinary system, but infections are primarily in the lower urinary tract, which consists of the bladder and urethra. Usually UTI symptoms appear rapidly and may include some or all of the symptoms listed below.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Symptoms
- Strong urge to urinate
- Burning sensation when you urinate
- Going to the bathroom often, but passing small amounts of urine
- Blood in the urine
- Bacteria in the urine
- Soreness in lower abdomen
- Feeling pressure in pelvic area
- Low-grade fever
If you have symptoms of a urinary tract infection, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. Leaving a UTI untreated can cause the infection to spread to your kidneys. Your doctor can determine whether or not you have a UTI by collecting a urine sample from you and then examining the number of bacteria and white blood cells. Urinary tract infections are then promptly treated with antibiotics. You should refrain from having sex and from inserting anything into the vagina (tampons, fingers, etc.) until you have finished the antibiotics and are feeling 100% better It’s best to ask your doctor when you can begin having sex again.
UTIs usually occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and multiply in the bladder. Having sex can lead to urinary tract infections, but non sexually active people can also get them. They are typically caused by the E. coli bacteria (Escherichia coli). This bacteria is found in the gastrointestinal tract and is eventually released through the anus. In the female anatomy, the anus is very close to the opening of the bladder. This makes women more susceptible to UTIs as apposed to men.
Tips to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
- Drink plenty of water on a daily basis to flush out the urinary tract
- When you feel the need to pee, do so as soon as possible (do not hold your urine)
- Always wipe front to back after a bowel movement
- Take showers instead of baths (this prevents bacterial from entering)
- Wash genital area with water before and after sex
- Take cranberry pills
- Take vitamin C supplements
- Wear cotton crotch underwear (All cotton is best. It doesn’t trap moisture.)
- Don’t wear thong or g-string underwear
- Avoid sex positions that put pressure on the urethra. (missionary is worst, non male dominating positions are best such as woman on top, laying on your side, etc.)
- Don’t use feminine hygiene sprays and douches.
Why some people get recurring UTIs?
A person who has recurrent urinary tract infections has 3 or more infections a year. Listed below, are some possible reasons for recurring infections. The cause of chronic urinary tract infections is not always known. After running a series of urinary tract tests and finding nothing wrong, sometimes the only answer is “some people just get them”.
- A shorter than normal urethra. This makes it easier for bacteria to get in.
- A condition where the bladder does not release all of the urine during urination.
- A weak immune system.
- Abnormalities in bladder or kidney anatomy.
- Kidney stones.
- Eating a high sugar diet.
Treatment for recurrent urinary tract infections
Below is a list of possible treatment options. A Urologist may suggest one of these treatments or may combine treatments, depending on the frequency of recurrent infections. In addition to the treatment options for recurrent UTIs, you should also follow the tips to preventing UTIs listed.
- Taking 6 months of daily low dose antibiotics (TMP/SMZ or nitrofurantoin)
- A single dose of antibiotic taken after sex.
- When symptoms appear, take antibiotics for 1 or 2 days.
- Adopting a low sugar and reduced carbohydrate diet.
- Taking cranberry supplements twice a day.
Things I do to prevent recurring UTIs
For some chronic UTI sufferers, extra precautions must be taken when the basic treatment options are not 100% effective. Below is a list of the extra precautions and the basics I take to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs).
- Wipe front to back
- Cranberry supplements twice a day (TheraCran)
- Use Rephresh every three days (except when on my period)
- Sleep without underwear (except when on my period)
- Wear pads instead of tampons
- Drink at least 4 large glasses of water daily
- Drink 2 large glasses of water after sex
- Pee as soon as I realize I have to go
- Wash vagina with water after sex
- Wash vagina with water daily
- Blow dry vagina on low cool setting after washing
- Take showers instead of baths
- Use unscented laundry detergents and dryer sheets
- Wear cotton underwear
- Not wearing thongs/g-strings
- Follow a low carb and low sugar diet (My Diet)
- Take 1,000mg of vitamin C daily
- Use lubrication during sex
- Don’t have sex every day (Every other day seems to work for me)