Urinary Tract Infections Peak In The Summer, And Here's Why

As my seventh grade Algebra teacher graphically explained to us, having a UTI is like trying to funnel out an entire grapefruit through the eye of a needle. In short, it’s not pretty. Urinary tract infections can pretty much strike at any time. But as a new study found, there is a UTI peak season. Researchers gathered and analyzed data on people who were hospitalized for UTIs between 1998 and 2011 in the United States. While it was found that there are over seven million UTI cases in the country yearly, only a small amount of cases were severe enough to require hospitalization.

Between 1998 to 2011, the researchers found that number for hospitalizations nearly doubled from 136,000 to 244,000. The rate of women who were hospitalized also increased by nearly two times in comparison to men over the research period.

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But the most notable findings occurred when researchers looked into the seasonal effects among different age groups. They found that UTI hospitalizations peaked every summer and dipped every winter for both men and women.

"We found — really surprisingly — for women, that seasonality was the highest in these youngest women, between 18 and 40," Jacob Simmering, of the University of Iowa's Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science said at IDWeek, a meeting of of organizations focused on infectious diseases. "As age went up, seasonality diminished.”

In short, young women were much more likely to get UTIs than any other age group during the summer. For women 44 and older, UTI hospitalizations remained consistent year-round.

According to researchers, there are several theories as to why UTIs are more common in the summer. Dehydration is one cause. Sexual activity is another.

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But as the researchers also noted, an overall rise in hospitalizations due to UTIs may be linked to an increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria which causes infections. While previous years have found UTIs could be more commonly treated by oral antibiotics, an increasing number of people need it delivered through an IV.

Because UTIs can happen to anyone at during any season, here are three things you should know:

1. Sex Is To Blame

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Sex introduces bacteria into a woman’s urinary tract. Because of that, according to Everyday Health, any time a woman has sex she’s at risk for getting a UTI. Women are also more likely to get UTIs when they start having sex for the first time, when they start having sex with a new partner, and when they have frequent sex.

2. Your UTI Meds Could Lower Your Sex Drive

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According to a recent study by Dr. Robynne Chutkan for The Daily Beast, frequent consumption of antibiotics for UTIs have been found to lower a woman’s libido. As Chutkan explained, overusing the antibiotics could lead to an imbalanced gut, known as dysbiosis, which can negatively influence one’s sex drive.

However, if you find that your meds aren't negatively affecting your sex drive, experts suggest waiting until you're symptom-free to start having sex again.

3. The Best Way To Prevent Yourself

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Just as you would protect yourself against unplanned pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases, the best way to prevent a UTI is to take care of yourself. As in, stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. Make sure you pee after sex. Don’t hold your pee in too long. Be conscious of your butt to vagina play. Oh, and listen to your mom when she told you to, “always wipe front to back.”

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