By: Eliza Wagman
You wake up – suspiciously early – with an unbearable urge to pee. When you rush to the toilet, there’s little of the usual relief; you’re met instead with discomfort, and – oh, no – is that burning? You start to panic a little. You know what this means. As soon as you arise, you have to pee again. Well, you know you don’t have to pee again, but you sure feel like you do. You groan, and check the fridge. Thank god you’ve got some cranberry juice in there. You chug it down and prepare for a miserable couple of days – oh god, the constant pain, the never-ceasing desire to sit on the toilet …… thanks, UTI.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are bacterial infections in any part of the urinary system, most commonly the bladder and urethra. Estimates indicate that people with vaginas have at least a 40% chance of getting at least one UTI in their lifetime (people with penises can get them too, but it is much less common). UTIs are extremely unpleasant, but there are measures to take to prevent their occurrence, and steps to ease the discomfort if you do get one.
- Drink lots of water! The more you pee, the more bacteria you flush away from your urinary system.
- Always wipe front to back, to avoid spreading rectal bacteria to the urethra.
- Urinate immediately after intercourse. Sexual activity, especially vaginal penetration, is an easy way to spread bacteria to the urethra and urinary system. Peeing helps flush this bacteria away before it becomes lodged and infectious.
I think I have a UTI – What do I do?
- DO NOT rely on household treatments. While there are over-the-counter medications to take, and cranberry juice is a commonly purported solution, these are not ample enough measures to fully kill the infection and prevent reoccurrence.
- Always consult a doctor if you think you have a UTI. They will confirm with tests, and likely prescribe antibiotics, which will ensure a more painless, swift, and complete recovery.
Neglecting to get proper treatment for UTIs can lead to more serious health issues, including permanent kidney damage. So, while UTIs are common and no reason to panic, using preventative measures and seeking medical treatment is crucial!
For more information on sexual and reproductive health, or to find a clinic near you, visit http://www.myplannedparenthood.org.