The day after I returned from Electric Forest, a four day festival up in Northern Michigan, I knew something was wrong. I was peeing even more than normal — and I drink coffee and water all day every day, so I usually pee a lot. But that Monday, I was in and out of the bathroom pretty much every hour, which was not only uncomfortable but also annoying. The next day the pain started: a burning sensation when I peed that sometimes last for as long as 15 minutes after I finished. I knew then what was up. The not-so-sanitary conditions at the festival had led to a urinary tract infection, or UTI.
For those of you who are lucky enough to have never had one, UTIs are infections of — you guessed it! — your urinary tract and they’re caused by bacteria getting in what should really only be an out hole. Most UTIs are caused by fecal bacteria that got where it shouldn’t, either from someone’s fingers, wiping incorrectly (front to back, always, ladies!), or transfer during sex. Sometimes — like when you’re at a four day festival without real showers and using port a potties that run out of toilet paper, quickly — a whole bunch of factors converge and you end up with a painful, annoying infection.
Doctors will prescribed antibiotics for UTIs and, really, as soon as you start seeing signs you should head over to your GP (or hit up Planned Parenthood) and get the medicine but because I was raised by hippies, I hate antibiotics and try to avoid them at all costs possible. In the past, cranberry supplements have helped clear up my UTIs and even though the science is still kind of unclear about whether or not they work, I decided to go that route first.
A week later found me in the waiting room at Planned Parenthood, practically begging the doctor to just give me the damn drugs, already! The cranberry didn’t work and I was scheduled to fly to Japan in two days and I practically ran to the pharmacy to get my prescription filled. Drugs in hand, I was ready to take that UTI head-on.
While taking antibiotics and drinking lots of water are obvious when you have a UTI, less obvious is what you should/can be doing sexually while you’re recovering. For me, UTIs are so painful and gross that I’m not interested in anything else down there, even underwear. My vagina is closed for business until the medicine started kicking in and the pain subsided.
But when can you really start going at it again when you have a UTI?
While I think most women are probably like me and not so into vaginal intercourse (or oral or fingers or ANYTHING) while the pain is still present, it’s obviously up to you when you want to start getting busy again.
Some experts recommend that you wait until you’ve been symptom-free for two weeks, as the infection can come back during that time but, let’s be real: who really wants to wait that long with no nookie?
Other experts say that it’s fine to do it once the symptoms subside. Just be sure to pee after sex, keep drinking lots of water, and be extra careful about any butt to vagina action. (Which you really should be doing anyway, so that shouldn’t be too hard.) If the infection comes back, you’ve learned something about your body and should definitely wait the full two weeks after your new round of antibiotics flushes it out again.
Also, quick note: UTIs aren’t infectious, so you don’t have to worry about spreading them to your partner. However, they can be caused by STIs, so if you’re at all concerned that you may have contacted something, ask your doctor to test you when you go in for your antibiotics.
Images: Giphy (2); Pexels
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