Urinary Tract Infections are very common among women. Research indicates that one out of five women experiences UTI at some point of their life. UTI can affect any part of the urinary system including the bladder (causing cystitis), kidneys ( leading to pyelonephritis) & urethra (resulting in urethritis).
In general, urine (created from the waste products & excess water removed from the blood by the kidneys) does not contain any bacteria & passes through the urinary system without contamination. But bacteria can enter the urinary system leading to inflammation or infection. This infection is known as urinary tract infection.
What are the Symptoms of Recurrent UTIs?
- Strong and persistent urge to urinate
- When urinating, there is a burning sensation
- Regularly, passing small amounts of urine
- Urine with a cloudy appearance
- Urine that is red, bright pink, or cola-coloured indicates blood in the urine
- Urine that smells strongly
- Pelvic pain in women, particularly in the centre of the pelvis and around the pubic bone
What are the Causes?
Bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and multiply in the bladder, causing urinary tract infections in the majority of cases. Although the urinary system is designed to keep such microscopic invaders out, these defences do fail in some circumstances. If this occurs, bacteria may take hold and grow into a full-fledged infection in the urinary tract.
Cystitis: This type of UTI is typically caused by Escherichia coli, a type of bacteria commonly found in the GI tract. Although sexual activity can cause cystitis, you do not have to be sexually active to get it. Because of the short distance between the urethra and the anus and the urethral opening to the bladder, all women are susceptible to cystitis.
Urethritis: When GI bacteria spread from the anus to the urethra, this type of UTI can occur. Sexually transmitted infections such as herpes, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and mycoplasma can cause urethritis because the female urethra is so close to the vagina.
What are the Risk Factors?
Women are more likely to develop UTIs because of factors like:
Female anatomy: A woman has a shorter urethra than a man, which shortens the distance that bacteria must travel to reach the bladder.
Sexual behaviour: UTIs are more common in sexually active women than in women who are not sexually active. Having a new sexual partner may raise your risk even further.
Are there any preventive measures?
- Drinking water dilutes your urine and encourages you to urinate more frequently, allowing bacteria to be flushed from your urinary tract before an infection develops.
- Wipe from the front to the back.
- Urinate as soon as possible after intercourse. Drink a full glass of water as well to help in the flushing of bacteria.
- Cotton underwear is recommended.You should not hold your pee in.
- Avoid using potentially irritating feminine hygiene products. The urethra can be irritated by using deodorant sprays or other feminine products (that have not been vetted by a gynaecologist) in the genital area, such as douches and powders.
- Adapt your birth control method. Unlubricated or spermicide-treated condoms can all contribute to bacterial growth.
- You should not hold your pee in.