UTIs or Urinary Tract Infections are infections in any part of your urinary system- the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Most of the infections happen to the bladder (cystitis) and urethra (urethritis). The role of the urinary tract is to make and store urine. It is one of the waste products of the body. The one-way flow of it makes sure to prevent infections. While normal urine does not have bacteria, sometimes they get into the urethra and travel up to the bladder, causing a UTI. If the infection reaches the kidneys, it means it has become very severe. Women are more prone to UTIs than men because they have shorter urethras.
Some of the reasons people contract UTIs are:
- A weakened immune system. If your immune system is not as strong as it should be, it cannot fight off the bacteria, which can cause one to get a UTI.
- Lack of hygiene. This is one of the primary reasons people get UTIs. When there is a lack of proper sanitation facilities and in some cases, inaccessible menstrual health and hygiene, it can lead to severe and frequent UTIs for the population.
- Some forms of birth control. Specifically those which have spermicidal foam are directly related to higher reported cases of UTIs.
- Individual bodily differences. Some women are more predisposed to UTIs as they have urinary tracts that make it easier for bacteria to cling to them. Also, for some women, during their menarche and menopause, they are more prone to UTIs due to the rapid changes in their body that might leave them with a lowered eostrogen induced protection, increasing the risk of a UTI.
If you want to look out for a UTI, these are some of the symptoms that come with it:
- An urge to constantly urinate.
- A burning sensation whenever you go to the bathroom.
- Frequently passing small amounts of urine.
- A cloudy appearance of urine.
- Presence of blood- characterised by bright pink or a red colour.
- Pelvic pain in women, especially around the pelvis and the pubic bone.
- Some other symptoms include high fever, nausea, vomiting, back pain and frequent chills.
If you have any of these symptoms, consult a doctor immediately. In the meantime, here are some practices you can adopt to consciously avoid them as much as possible-
1. Drink plenty of water and fluids. This ensures your urine is diluted and the frequency of using the washroom also means that the bacteria is constantly flushed out, removing any possibility of a UTI.
2. Be mindful of the birth control you use. Some diaphragms or the spermicide treated condoms can lead to bacterial growth.
3. A common mistake is not urinating after intercourse. It is an essential practice to prevent UTIs.
4. Use feminine products that are friendly to your intimate area’s skin. Any product that irritates the skin there opens the possibility for a UTI.
With the right care and precautions, UTIs can be prevented. It is advisable to consult a gynaecologist for further advice.