The human body is a wonder. Everything it is capable of achieving, is a miracle. However, when it comes to catching an infection, the otherwise healthy and miraculous human body falls short. And that’s okay.
The urinary system, also known as the renal system, comprises the kidneys, ureters, urethra and the bladder. The main purpose of this system is to let go of waste from within the body and manage blood volume and pressure. In simpler terms, we can call this organ system the disposal cell of the body.
Any infection that might plague the disposal cell of the body, is called a urinary tract infection. Such infections mostly occur within the lower bits of the urinary tract, that is, the bladder and the urethra. While infections in these areas may cause pain and annoyance, an infection in the upper organs, such as the kidneys, can be a serious issue.
Generally speaking, anyone can suffer from a UTI but, more often than not, women are more susceptible. This happens due to the female anatomy. A woman’s urethra, the tube-like structures from which urine exits the human body, is much shorter than a man’s. There have been instances when bowel bacteria such as E.coli bacteria have caused UTIs. Moreover, the female urethral opening is situated very close to the vaginal opening and the anus. Bacteria from these sources can also cause UTIs. This might happen due to sexual intercourse and/or any intimate activity.
There are certain contraceptives available in the market which can also result in a UTI.
Spermicides may result in skin irritation which allows for bacteria to develop. This chemical is generally found in spermicidal creams & gels, tablets and condoms (please note, not all condoms contain spermicides).
- Unlubricated condoms are also responsible for skin irritation leading to bacterial growth.
Sadly, that’s not it. Controlling the urge to urinate for a long period of time, not drinking enough fluids, injuries in the spinal cord, diabetes, and hormonal imbalance, amongst a host of other reasons, can also cause UTIs in women.
UTIs, though painful and uncomfortable, are common and can be treated if they aren’t an extreme case. If you feel any of the following symptoms, it is advisable for you to pay a visit to your doctor -
Signs of a UTI in the kidneys-
- Back and/or side pain,
- High Fever,
- Chills, shuddering and shaking, and
- Nausea and vomiting.
Signs of a UTI in the bladder-
- Pressure in the pelvic region,
- Discomfort experienced in the lower belly,
- Painful urination very frequently, and
- Presence of blood in the urine.
Signs of a UTI in the urethra-
- Burning sensation during urination, and
- Frequently abnormal discharge.
Now that we have looked in depth of what a UTI is, how it happens and its signs and symptoms, let’s take a breather and discuss ways to avoid a UTI.
- Keep yourself hydrated-
Consuming a good amount of fluids is always a good option, UTI or otherwise. This helps the urinary system to flush out bacteria and other toxins from the body frequently.
- Always urinate after sexual intercourse-
Surprisingly, not using the washroom after sex has been the reason for UTIs for a lot of women. It is advisable to drink a glass of water and relieve yourself right after. This should be done to flush out the bacteria from within the vagina and urethral opening.
- Showers instead of baths-
While baths in bathtubs aren’t the usual fashion in India, it is still advised to stick with showers instead to prevent UTIs.
- Avoid certain intimate products-
Vaginal douches, sprays, powders, perfumes and deodorants cause a change in the pH level of the female genitals, which can result in a UTI. Please avoid these at any cost and stick to rinsing with lukewarm water.
- Reconsider your birth control practices-
Contraceptives which use spermicides should be avoided. Same should be the case with diaphragms and unlubed condoms.
- Drink Cranberry Juice-
While there is much scientific discourse regarding cranberry juice preventing UTIs, it won’t hurt to make it a part of your diet. If not helpful with UTIs, might as well enjoy it for the taste and nutritional benefits!
There are chances of still catching a UTI despite taking all precautions- one mustn’t panic. Everything can be managed with a peaceful and receptive mind. Visit a doctor as soon as possible, and follow up with their prescription. It will be alright soon- we got your back!