Urinary Tract Infection - Time To Open Up & Talk About It!

Last updated 26 Oct 2018 . 1 min read

Urinary Tract Infection Urinary Tract Infection

One of the most common types of infections that women have probably experienced or are at least aware of is an infection of the urinary tract. An article published in 2013 stated that around 20-30% of women ranging in the ages of 20 - 40 years will get a urinary tract infection in their lifetime. Therefore knowing how to identify the symptoms and reaching out for the appropriate treatment is vital.

What is a Urinary Tract Infection?

A urinary tract infection or commonly addressed as a UTI refers to an infection in any part of the urinary tract. This includes your urethra, urinary bladder, ureter or kidneys.

diagram of urinary tract

The most common source of infection is the anus which is located in close proximity to the opening of the urinary tract. However, there are other possible sources of infection that can be responsible for causing a urinary tract infection.

What are some of the possible causes of a Urinary Infection?

#1. Sexual intercourse

Bacteria from your vaginal tract and anus can be introduced into and around your urinary tract during intercourse. It is usually a good practice to urinate after intercourse to flush the system of any possible transfer of bacterial organisms.

#2. Urinating infrequently

Holding onto your pee is probably considered as a magical feat. However, it can often do more harm than good. In such cases, bacteria have time to grow in the stagnant urine. That is held inside your bladder. Urinating more often helps to release all the possible infecting bacteria and its multiplying ground.

#3. Dehydration

Drinking too little or no fluids at all can also cause UTIs. Drinking plenty of water triggers frequent urination which helps to hinder any possible growth of bacteria.

#4. Menopause

Women in their menopausal years are at a higher risk of developing a UTI. This is primarily due to the changes in the vaginal pH with a hormonal decline, making it easier for bacteria to grow. Menopause could also be a possible sign of Ovarian Cancer.

#5. Switching birth control

This causes a change in your hormonal balance. Opting for spermicides and diaphragm, which usually stay in longer than other forms of contraception, can also increase your risk of developing a UTI.

#6. Sanitary products

When pads or tampons are changed after long intervals they promote a breeding ground for possible bacteria. In addition to possibly developing a UTI, patients also have an increased risk of other deadly infections such as toxic shock syndrome.

#7. Diabetes

Especially uncontrolled diabetes, increases one’s risk of developing a UTI. This is primarily due to the increased sugar content in the urine that assists in the further growth of the bacteria.

#8. Lack of personal hygiene

Cleaning your genital area the wrong way (from anus to vagina) or douching often are all risk factors to developing UTIs.

(Just a Moment - Are you experiencing White Discharge?)

While this list might seem exhaustive, simple precautionary measures can help curb your risk of developing a UTI. It is often difficult to pinpoint an exact cause for a urinary tract infection, and in most cases, it is the cumulative effect of several improper practices. At the other end of the spectrum, there are many cases with no possible underlying causes for a UTI.

How would I know if I have a urinary tract infection?

Some UTIs are diagnosed incidentally while screening urine during a routine test. However, in most cases, UTIs have definite symptoms that should prompt a woman to go and receive treatment.

  • Burning or pain while passing urine
  • Pain or pressure in the lower abdomen or back
  • Cloudy or dark urine
  • An urgency to pass urine
  • Strong or a foul-smelling urine
  • Possible fever and fatigue

A UTI can present with either a single symptom or a combination of symptoms. Having any one of these for a few days to a week should promptly make one seek proper medical treatment.

(Also Read About - Pain In Lower Right Abdomen In Women)

What are the ways in which a UTI can be treated?

Ideally when you exhibit any of the symptoms mentioned above the best thing to do is to consult with your physician. Since bacterial or other organisms are the common underlying causes for a urinary tract infection, a course of antibiotics will be prescribed to treat the infection. Some of the most common antibiotics used to treat a UTI are:

  • Nitrofurantoin
  • Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole
  • Levofloxacin or ciprofloxacin
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Fosfomycin

These are just a few of the drugs used to treat a urinary tract infection. Most infections can be treated with oral antibiotics. However, if the infection is higher up the bladder, primarily in the kidney or ureters, doctors might opt for an intravenous course of antibiotics.

UTI Treatment Without Antibiotics

There are many things you can do at home, in addition to taking your medications, to help recover from a urinary tract infection.

#1. Stay hydrated 

Drinking plenty of water helps to flush out the bacteria and also keeps the environment in your urinary tract hydrated. Avoid sugary drinks as these promote bacterial growth.

#2. Top up on your vitamin C 

Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C helps to increase the acidity of the urine, which in turn makes it a hostile environment for the bacteria to grow in.

#3. Consider probiotics

Off late probiotics have seen a huge number of benefits. One is in the treatment of UTIs. Probiotics help to boost the immune system and also replace harmful bacteria. They are known to help in preventing the recurrence of UTIs.

#4. Watch your diet

Caffeine, spicy food, fizzy drink, and excess sugar can all irritate or inflame the bladder. Opt for a healthier diet high in fiber.

Can I have sex while I am recovering from a UTI?

It is best to stay away from sex when on treatment for a urinary tract infection. Patients might experience pain if they have intercourse during an infection. It also slows down the healing process as causative bacteria can be reintroduced into your urinary tract. Women are advised to stay off sex for at least a couple of weeks following the end of their treatment course.

Women are more likely to develop a urinary tract infection during their lifetime when compared to men. The structure and design of the urinary tract in females has a role to play in the frequency of women developing a UTI. A sexually active woman is more likely to develop a urinary tract infection than a woman that is not. However, any woman can develop the infection based on her hygiene practices, diet or if she currently has any medical conditions.

The bottom line is that a urinary tract infection is easily treatable. Once any noticeable symptoms are evident, it is best to consult with a physician and start your course of antibiotics. Medications are the best and most effective treatment strategy for a UTI. Women are also advised to maintain optimum hygiene practices to keep urinary tract infections at bay.

Dr. Michelle Frank
Call me your unconventional doctor, who is currently treading on the road less travelled. I love all things medicine. The human body and it’s inner workings never cease to fascinate me. Helping others is what gives me unparalleled satisfaction and keeps me marching on this enlightening and fulfilling journey.

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