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, accounting for approximately 10 million doctor visits yearly. UTIs occur when there is an infection in the urinary tract, and while most are not serious, they can lead to more serious problems down the road.
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. In fact, women are four times more likely than men to get a UTI. Other risk factors include having a previous UTI, new sexual partners, pregnancy, poor hygiene, and structural problems within the urinary tract. In addition, older adults and young children are more likely to get a UTI.
Common symptoms include pain or burning during urination, excessively frequent urination, bloody urine, and pressure in the groin or lower abdomen. Urinary tract infections, similarly to other bacterial infections, are only treated with antibiotics.
Urinary tract infection, unsurprisingly, are 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 front to back
The rectum is the main source of E.coli. Additionally, bacteria in the body is generally near the anus. Thus, it’s recommended that you wipe from front to back after using the bathroom. By doing this, you lower the risk of E.coli entering the urethra and developing an infection.
2. Urinate before and after sex
Having sex raises the likelihood of getting a UTI, as bacteria can more easily get into the urethra. In order to push bacteria away from urethra, it’s optimal to urinate 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 pregnancy is a UTI risk factor.
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 forms 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.
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