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How to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections

What is a Urinary Tract Infection?

Urinary Tract Infections, otherwise known as UTIs, are incredibly common. In fact, UTIs are the second most common type of infection in the body, accounting for approximately 10 million doctor visits. UTIs occur when there is an infection in the urinary tract, while most are not serious, they can lead to more serious problems.

Urinary Tract Infection Risk Factors

UTIs are more common in women than in men due to the way in which their urethras are closer to the rectum, making it easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract. Another female problem- women are four times more likely than men to get a UTI. Other risk factors include having a previous UTI, having new sexual partners, pregnancy, poor hygiene, and structural problems in the urinary tract. In addition, older adults and young children are more likely to get a UTI.

Signs and Symptoms

How do you know if you have a urinary tract infection? Common symptoms include pain or burning during urination, frequent urination (more than normal), blood in the urine, and pressure in the groin or lower abdomen. Urinary tract infections are only treated with antibiotics, as they are bacterial infections.

Urinary tract infection, unsurprisingly, are extremely uncomfortable and can cause distraction, discomfort, and distress throughout the day. Fortunately there are various measures you can take to avoid getting a UTI.

1. Wipe from back to front when using the bathroom

The rectum is the main source of E.coli. Additionally, bacteria generally is present near the anus. Thus, it’s recommended that you wipe from front to back after using the bathroom. By doing this, you decrease the risk of E.coli entering the urethra.

2. Pee before and after sex

Sex raises the likelihood of getting a UTI, as bacteria can more easily get into the urethra. This is even a higher risk for women. So, to push bacteria away from urethra, it’s best to pee before and after sex.

3. Don’t hold your pee for hours

Holding in your urine raises the chance of bacterial growth around the urethra. Thus, don’t wait long before you urinate. Aim to pee every 3-4 hours and try to empty your bladder entirely when urinating. If pregnant, this is even more important as pregnant individuals are more at risk for getting a UTI. 

4. Hydrate

The easiest way to avoid getting a UTI is to continually drink fluids in order to flush bacteria out of the body. By staying hydrated, you lower the chance of bacteria entering the bladder and urinary tract because you will have to urinate more frequently.

5. Consider changing birth control

Unfortunately some types of birth control might put individuals more at risk for getting a UTI. For example, diaphragms, spermicides, non-lubricated condoms, and spermicide condoms all might aid in the development of bacteria. Thus, consider talking to your gynecologist and modifying your birth control.

Featured Image from Vlada Karpovich on Pexels.

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