Have you ever had a UTI (urinary tract infection)? If so, you’re probably cringing right now, tempted to cross your legs and hold your pee-pee in with both hands like a little girl who really has to go. Anyone who has experienced it knows that UTIs totally zap your mojo, and since they affect about 8-10 million Pinkies per year, chances are we’ve all been there. Here is the skinny from this end of the stirrups on that sinister, mojo-burgling coochie invader.
How do I know if I have a UTI?
The most common UTI symptoms include urinary frequency (you feel like you have to go, even when you just emptied your bladder), dysuria (burning when you urinate), and hematuria (blood in the urine). UTIs that ascend to the kidney to cause pyelonephritis can cause fever, back pain, and sometimes nausea/vomiting.
What causes UTIs?
A UTI is a bacterial infection of the urinary tract, which is normally sterile. The most common bug to cause a UTI is Escherichia coli (E. coli), a bacteria that normally lives in the bowel. A variety of things can cause this bowel bacteria to climb up the urethra (the tube from the bladder to the outside world, where the pee comes out). If E. coli or other bowel bacteria gets into your bladder, it can grow and wreak havoc.
I get UTIs all the time. Why does that happen?
Most people get UTIs rarely, if at all. If you get them frequently, see your doctor to make sure there are no anatomical defects or health conditions, such congenital defects in the urinary tract or diabetes, that predispose you to UTIs. If that’s ruled out, it may be that your sex life is the culprit. Most often, UTIs are precipitated by bouts of frequent intercourse (we docs call it honeymoon cystitis.) Certain sexual positions and behaviors can increase the risk of bacteria from the bowel making its way into the urinary tract. Do you notice that you only get UTIs when you’re in a relationship and having sex frequently? Do certain positions always result in UTIs? If so, you may want to take preventative measures to keep you from running to the potty all the time.
Next: What can I do to prevent frequent UTIs?