If you've ever had a UTI (urinary tract infection), then you know about true pain and agony. The burning, the itching, the incredible need to go pee right now — these are the hallmarks of this troublesome problem. It can be so painful that you may find yourself on the bathroom floor crying and wondering why you have constant UTIs.
This tragic scene will be the case for about 20 percent of women in their lifetime. That's how common UTIs really are. In fact, they are responsible for nearly 10 million doctor visits each year, as Diana Rodriguez pointed out on EverydayHealth.com. That's a lot of ladies trudging off to the doctor, and praying for several bathroom stops along the way.
Bu even worse is that they aren't always a one-time thing. When UTIs become chronic, it seems like everything and anything can trigger the burning, awful sensations. So, what causes these agonizing symptoms? According to Rodriguez, "A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract. The bacteria cause irritation, which often results in painful urination and even abdominal pain." Cue pee that feels hot as lava.
One thing to keep in mind is that women are more likely to get UTIs than men due to a shorter urethra (the tube that leads from the bladder to where the pee comes out.) This is one of nature's cruel jokes, I know. But all the more reason to take good care of your health, and keep an eye out for the sneaky causes of this painful infection. Here are a few habits that can cause UTIs.
1. You Don't Pee After Sex
UTIs often crop up when you're having lots of sex, which is why they are nicknamed honeymoon cystitis, according to Susi May on POPSUGAR. (Cute name for a not-so-cute problem.) It makes sense, though, since UTIs are caused by bacteria being pushed around in your nether regions, and towards that short urethra of yours. This is why it's so important to shower after sex — and even beforehand if you can.
But just as important as washing up is taking that post-sex pee break. You may not feel like it, but dashing off to the bathroom can help prevent a problem from occurring. According to Alexandra Duron on Greatist.com, "... you’ll hopefully pee out the bacteria that may have made their way into your urethra." Once you do this, go ahead and get back to cuddling.
2. You Wipe From Back To Front
This one may seem like a no brainer, but apparently lots of people do it — the oh so very unsanitary back to front wipe. According to an article on WebMD.com, we are raised to always wipe from front to back with the goal of preventing UTIs. "Bacteria from the large intestine, such as E. coli, are in the perfect position to escape the anus and invade the urethra. From there, they can travel up to the bladder, and if the infection isn't treated, continue on to infect the kidneys," the article noted. So take notice the next time you wipe, and make sure you're going in the right direction.
3. You Have Too Many Things Going On Down There
Sprays, douches, spermicides — there's a pretty long list of things that go in and around your vagina. They can all irritate the area, making you more prone to UTIs. One major culprit are condoms coated in spermicide, according to NHS.UK, which can cause irritation and lead to infection. Vaginal douches might also be to blame, since they change vaginal bacteria and increase the risk of chronic infection, according to Kristeen Moore on Healthline.com.
While you may want to skip douching, you definitely shouldn't be tossing your condoms out the window. Instead, be sure to make a stop in the ol' shower after sex, and rinse off right away.
4. You Drink Too Much Coffee
Coffee isn't necessarily a cause of UTIs, but if you've been feeling the burn down there for forever, then it might be worth taking a look at your beverage intake. According to Rodriguez, "Caffeine in particular is known to cause bladder irritation and worsen urinary tract symptoms. A study of people with chronic inflammation of the bladder found that people who drank coffee experienced worsened symptoms."
So, skip the caffeine and try non-caffeinated tea instead. And be sure to stay hydrated with lots of water to flush bacteria from your urinary tract. You can also stock up on cranberry juice, which has been shown to prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder, thus making it less possible for a UTI to form.
5. You Hold Your Pee For Forever
It's common to skip out on the bathroom when you're busy, and even more tempting to stay all comfy in bed even though you really have to pee. But if you're in the habit of doing these things, take my advice and stop it right now. While momentarily convenient, holding in urine for too long can lead to bacterial infection. As Duron noted, "... not taking time to hit the loo ... does more harm than good. Because the last thing you want is urine to sit in the bladder for too long, just growing bacteria." All you gotta do is get up, pee, and be done with it.
6. You Use Too Many Sweeteners
Remember that cup of coffee we were talking about? It can be made even worse if you fill it to the brim with artificial sweeteners. According to Rodriguez, "When you're trying to cut calories at every corner, artificial sweeteners seem like a healthy replacement for sugar. But if you've got a urinary tract infection, it’s possible that your symptoms may worsen if you use artificial sweeteners. While one study found that artificial sweeteners worsened bladder symptoms in people with chronic interstitial cystitis, there's no real proof they irritate the bladder when you have a simple UTI. But if these fake sweeteners bother you, skip them." Instead, go for real sugar, or no sugar at all.
7. You Use A Diaphragm
A diaphragm can be a pretty good method of birth control, but it does have its downsides (apart from having to stick it way up in there). According to Duron, because of where the diaphragm sits, it puts pressure on the urethra, which might lead to an increased risk of infection. If it's been causing you problems, look for another method of birth control.
It's really not too difficult to prevent UTIs, or at least make them happen less often. All you have to do is figure out which one of your habits is to blame, and then clean up your act.
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