Sexual health and the infamous UTI

Aoife McMahon

UTIs or urinary tract infections are infections in any part of your urinary system, they can be extremely common and can cause frequent and painful urination.

Your urinary system is made up of your bladder, kidneys, urethra and ureters, most infections are found in the lower urinary tract which consists of the bladder and the urethra. UTIs are much more common in women due to the fact they have shorter urethra’s but men can still suffer with them.  

There are many ways to contract a UTI, the best known is during sex. While engaging in some sexual activity it is possible that bacteria from your partner’s genitals, anus, fingers or even from sex toys can get pushed into the urethra, travel to the bladder and cause an infection. 

You don’t have to have had sex to suffer from a UTI, it is possible that your own bacteria can make its way into your urethra too. There are a few easy steps you can take to prevent a UTI.

The easiest one is to drink plenty of water. Everyone knows that the more water you drink the more you have to urinate. If you are urinating more the bacteria is more likely to get washed out of the urethra before it becomes a major issue. 

If you’ve had any sort of awkward conversation with your mam about the birds and the bees, she probably told you to pee after sex. Peeing after sex is a great way to wash away any of the bacteria that may have gathered during it. This is not only crucial for women but also for men, especially if they had sex without a condom. 

However, it is just as important to pee before sex or to at least wash yourself. By washing yourself, we don’t mean vaginal douching or using any deodorant sprays to make your vagina smell nice as this itself is also a common cause of UTIs. Washing yourself needs to only involve using soap and water. 

A day to day thing you can change to lower the risk of you getting a UTI is wiping front to back rather than back to front. This means wiping from your urethra back to your anus. This ensures you don’t accidentally spread the bacteria from your anus into your urethra and subsequently to your bladder. 

It is possible for UTIs to go away on their own if you drink lots of water and cranberry juice. This literally washes the infection away but a lot of the time it’s safer to see a doctor. 

Untreated UTIs can become bladder infections which can spread into the kidneys. This is obviously more dangerous as the infection can travel into your bloodstream from the kidneys. If left untreated for too long UTIs can lead to sepsis which is a life-threatening infection.

The doctor will most likely take a urine test and if they find that you have a UTI, you’ll be prescribed antibiotics and painkillers if you need them. A good way to speed up your recovery while on antibiotics is to drink large amounts of water, drink cranberry juice or take cranberry tablets and take probiotics that contain vitamin C. 

UTIs are preventable and treatable, so don’t allow yourself to be in pain every time you pee.

Aoife McMahon

Image Credit: Flickr