If you have a vulva and have heterosexual penetrative sex, chances are you’ve experienced the dreaded UTI, or Urinary Tract Infection.
While that sexual activity is not the only way to get a UTI, it is one of the most common, and in fact, UTIs are an extremely common ailment that will affect most women at least once in their in their lives – though as an added bonus, once you’ve had one, you’re more likely to have one again.
But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, let’s dive into exactly what a UTI is, what the symptoms are like, how to treat it, and, importantly, how to take steps to avoid having one.
What is a UTI?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection — usually caused by E. Coli or staph saprophyticus — in any part of your urinary system. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract (the bladder and the urethra) but they can also affect your kidneys and ureters.
The reason why women are much more likely to get UTIs than men is because we have a shorter urethra, and due to its proximity to our vagina, the introduction of someone else’s genitals into the equation make it a prime situation for causing these bacterial infections.
What are the Symptoms of a UTI?
Getting your first UTI can be a terrifying experience, and once you’ve had one, you’ll definitely know if you’ve gotten another. The most common symptoms are:
- A burning sensation or pain with urination
- A constant urge to pee even when your bladder is empty
- Difficulty controlling when you urinate
- Foul smelling and/or cloudy urine
And much more seriously:
- Blood in your urine
- Pain in the lower back or pelvis
- Fever or chills
Go seek medical attention immediately if you are experiencing fever, chills, nausea or vomiting.
How Are Urinary Tract Infections Treated?
Usually UTIs are treated with a short course of antibiotics, though sometimes you may also be prescribed pain medication to help numb the urethra.
No matter how often you feel the urge to urinate, it’s important to go as soon as you have the urge rather than holding it. It’s also helpful to avoid tight clothing, especially anything made of synthetic material and close-fitting underwear like thongs—think loose pants and comfy cotton granny panties.
If you have a urinary tract infection, it’s also important to avoid sex (as this can reintroduce bacteria), and drink a lot of water to help flush out the bacteria. It’s also recommended that you avoid drinks like coffee and alcohol that may irritate your bladder.
The Cranberry Myth
Myth may be a strong word, but despite anecdotal advice, there is yet to be truly conclusive evidence that unsweetened cranberry juice or cranberry tablets will help clear up a urinary tract infection — though it won’t hurt.
How Can You Avoid Getting a UTI?
While anatomy can be a factor when it comes to how susceptible you are to UTIs, there are some steps you can take to try and avoid getting them:
Do pee before, and especially after, sex to help flush bacteria out of the area
Do use barrier protection for sex such as male condoms
Do always wipe front (vulva) to back (anus)
Please note that advice offered by Intimina may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners.