How To Deal With Reoccuring UTI's
You wake up with the absolute desperation to pee, only to find that when you actually sit down on the loo, only a mere drop comes out and causes you the worst burning sensation you’ve ever felt.
Yes, most of us have been there, are there, or are going to be there at some point: that’s called dealing with a UTI!
Although UTIs can happen now and again and it’s just about possible to grimace through the pain, it’s a different story if you’re dealing with reoccurring UTIs.
1 million women in the UK deal with chronic UTIs, and if you’re one of them, you’ll know just how debilitating and downright infuriating it can be.
That’s exactly why this article is here: we’re going to take a look at the causes of UTIs, the reasons you might be getting them frequently, and most importantly how you can reduce the likelihood of getting them and manage them!
What is a UTI?
A UTI, or urinary tract infection, describes any kind of infection developed within the urinary system - this includes the kidneys, bladder and urethra. The most common type of UTI is an infection within the bladder and urethra.
UTIs happen when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and spread to the bladder. The type of bacteria that enter can differ, but most commonly it’s E. coli and it’s typically spread from the anus to the urethra.
Although having sex can increase the risk of a UTI, sex itself doesn’t cause it - it’s the bacteria that is pushed from the rectal area to the urethra during sex.
What Increases The Risk of Getting a UTI?
Whilst UTIs are caused by bacteria, there are things that put you more at risk of developing a UTI. So, let’s take a look at them!
Being a woman
Women are more at risk of developing UTIs than men, simply due to anatomy.
Women’s urethras are located both closer to their anus and closer to their bladder, making it not only easier for bacteria to enter in the first place, but making it more likely the bacteria will reach the bladder.
Sex increases the risk of getting a UTI for two main reasons.
Firstly, since your vagina (and urethral opening) are in close contact with someone else’s anus and genitals, they may transfer bacteria into your urethra.
Secondly, the thrusting motion of sex can push any bacteria towards the bladder, making it more likely that you will develop a UTI.
Not being safe when doing anal play
If you’re someone that engages in anal play, whether with toys or a penis, and you’re not practising safe, clean sex, you’re more likely to develop a UTI.
If you don’t properly clean a toy/penis after engaging in anal play and then this is used for vaginal penetration, you’re at a much higher risk of transferring bacteria from the anus to the urethra and bladder.
Having compromised vaginal flora
Much like the flora in your gut, your vagina also has bacteria that help keep you healthy. If you’re someone that has compromised vaginal flora, meaning it’s not able to ward off bad bacteria easily, you’re more likely to develop UTIs.
Common reasons for not having diverse and healthy vaginal flora include taking antibiotics, using scented products or lubes, having a diet high in sugar, and hormonal changes due to pregnancy, menopause, or birth control.
Why Do Some People Get Reoccurring UTIs?
If you’re doing any of the things mentioned above regularly, that could be the reason why you’re getting UTIs. For example, if your eyes opened and you sat back saying, “hmmm that’s why” when reading that not practising safe anal play increases your risk of UTIs, then that’s probably your reason!
However, in other cases, it may be unclear and there may be other reasons you’re at a higher risk of getting reoccurring UTIs.
It could be genetic
The truth is, some women are just more prone to contracting UTIs. If other women in your family also suffer from reoccurring UTIs, there’s a high likelihood that it could be genetic!
Yes, some women are genetically more likely to develop UTIs. This is due to the fact that some people are born with cell receptors that bacteria stick to better, making it easier for bacteria to enter the urethra and cause a UTI.
It could be down to your immune system
If you have a weaker immune system, for example, caused by a condition such as diabetes, this could make you more prone to developing a UTI since your body is less likely to be able to fight off the infection.
Additionally, recent research has shown that people who have overactive immune systems (for example, those with autoimmune diseases) may also be at a higher risk of developing a UTI due to the fact that the immune system goes into overdrive to try and fight the infection but actually does additional damage and leaves you more susceptible to reoccurring infection.
It could be due to pre-existing conditions
Certain illnesses and conditions can put you more at risk of developing a UTI. As already mentioned, diabetes and autoimmune diseases can increase your risk, but so can kidney stones and stress disorders.
Additionally, if you’ve had any surgery in the past in any area of your urinary tract, this could also make it more likely you will develop UTIs.
How Can You Reduce The Likelihood of Developing UTIs?
Pee after sex
It’s an old one, but a good one! Making sure you pee after sex is vital in making sure you flush out any bacteria that has entered your urethra during sex. So, hop out and pee and go back for pillow talk: don’t just lie there and expect not to wake up with a UTI!
Practise safe sex
Safe sex is important for so many reasons, and when it comes to reducing your likelihood of getting a UTI, it’s essential! Make sure that you always clean your toys/partner’s penis before changing from anal play to vaginal or vulva foreplay or penetration.
Practise good vaginal hygiene
This doesn’t mean scrubbing until you’re sore - in fact, it means ditching any kind of harsh chemicals, douches, fragrances, or “ph-balancing” washes you have. All you need is water to wash your vulva (the vagina is a self-cleaning organ!).
Also, make sure you’re always wearing clean cotton knickers and you stay away from sitting in sweaty or wet clothes for a prolonged period of time - that won’t do any good for your vaginal health!
Take a probiotic for vaginal health
Probiotics that support the bacteria within your vagina are popping up all over the place. So, if you think your flora might not be as strong or diverse as you’d like, add a probiotic into your daily routine!
Head to your doctor
It’s always best to seek a medical professional’s help if you’re dealing with reoccurring UTIs - they’ll know what will help you and may even be able to get to the bottom of why you’re developing them so frequently too.
How Can You Treat UTIs?
UTIs can often be treated at home by resting, increasing your water intake, and drinking some good old cranberry juice! However, in a lot of cases, UTIs are treated with antibiotics.
If a UTI does not go away within 24-48 hours, head to your doctor! If left untreated, you are putting yourself more at risk of kidney infections and even sepsis.
If you are experiencing reoccurring UTIs your doctor may even be able to prescribe you a longer stint of antibiotics for you to take for a few weeks or months, or every time you have sex.
Reoccurring UTIs can be an absolute pain (quite literally), but educating yourself about why UTIs happen and how to reduce your likelihood of getting one can really change the game.
So, enjoy and have fun, but make sure you’re looking after the health and happiness of your urinary tract: it’s important!