Nature calls for the third time in an hour. You hurry to the toilet, only to discover a burning sensation when you urinate. When you look down, you notice some blood. But you’re not on your period, so what is happening?
Those are just 3 common symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI).
What is UTI?
Urinary Tract Infection, or UTI, is defined as an infection of the organs in the urinary system. UTIs are extremely common in women.
While most infections are generally mild, severe infections could affect other parts of the urinary system such as the kidneys which can then lead to serious and life-threatening infections.
Common symptoms of UTI include but are not limited to:
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Cloudy, dark or bloody urine with an odour
- Fever and chills
- Fatigue and shakiness
- Urinary urgency and frequency
- Abdominal discomfort or back pain
While UTI can happen to both men and women, UTI is a lot more common in women as women have a much shorter urethra (urine tract) compared to men, making it much easier for bacteria to enter.
UTI can bring forth a significant amount of discomfort and inconvenience, so how do people usually contract it and what is the best way to prevent it?
Top 3 Common Causes of UTI
UTI in women are so common that it is often associated with very common day-to-day activities that many women do not realize actually contribute to or worsen their urinary infection. Here are 3 common lifestyle habits that can easily trigger a UTI:
1. Sexual Activity
Sexual intercourse is meant to be a pleasurable affair. Unfortunately, it is also a very common trigger of urinary tract infections in women.
Due to the close skin and genital contact during intercourse, bacteria around the vagina, anal areas and genital region might get pushed into the short female urethra and travel to the bladder. This would increase the risk of contracting a urinary infection.
Additionally, bacteria from the partner’s genitals, fingers, anus or sex toys could get pushed into a woman’s urethra and lead to infection.
2. Holding Urine
If you are someone who has a bad habit of holding your urine for hours, you might want to listen up.
Holding your urine for too long and too often could cause the bacteria in the bladder and urinary tract to multiply. It could also weaken the bladder muscles and lead to urinary retention.
While it is quite common for individuals to hold their urine until a task is completed (eg. holding your urine during a business meeting), it is not a habit you would want to maintain as it increases the chances of getting a UTI.
3. Wiping from Back to Front
Wiping your bottom area from back to front after urinating or defecating is another very common bad habit that many women do which increases their risk of UTI.
The action of wiping from back to front promotes the shift and migration of bacteria from an unclean and bacteria-rich back passage to the front, where the urethra is. This could cause bacteria to travel up to the bladder and enhance the risk of UTI.
How to Manage and Prevent UTI
UTIs might be uncomfortable in a myriad of ways, but there are several approaches to tackle it and reduce your chances of getting it again.
Being proactive in staying well hydrated, ensuring you urinate regularly and practicing good sexual hygiene can go a long way in helping you prevent that unwanted urinary tract infection.
If you experience any symptoms as mentioned above that are suggestive of a urinary tract infection, it is important to seek medical help early.
Speak to your doctor about getting antibiotics to kill the bacteria that is causing the infection. You might need to undergo a urine test to identify the type of bacteria present in view of increasing antibiotic resistance.
Practice Proper Hygiene
Other prevention methods you can undertake are:
- remembering to wipe from front to back whenever you go to the bathroom
- emptying your bladder before and after sexual activity
- using special feminine probiotics to balance out good bacterial flora to reduce the risks of recurrent urinary and vaginal infection
UTI is just one feminine issue that affects many women, there are various other vaginal-related issues such as vaginal itch.
When it comes to caring for your vaginal health, practising good hygiene is a vital way to mitigate the risks of UTI and other vaginal issues.
Keep your vaginal area clean, hydrate and nourish your body with nutrients daily. Whenever you feel like something is wrong, speak to a doctor to get a proper diagnosis.