Understanding the All Too Common UTI & UTI Symptoms

bathroom sign in a forest setting, a welcome sight for people with UTI symptoms | Pacific Urology

Debunking myths about UTIs and sharing tips & tricks on avoiding them

Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, account for nearly 10 million healthcare visits each year. These annoying and sometimes painful infections are no small issue. UTIs are the second most common infections in the body, after the common cold. UTI symptoms include a burning sensation during urination, the frequent and urgent need to urinate, strong smelling urine and/or blood in the urine.

While men are less likely to suffer from the pesky infection, around 50-60 percent of women will have a UTI at some point in their life. Four times as many women get UTIs as men do.

In 80-90 percent of UTI cases, E. coli bacteria that live in the intestines is the cause. Because women have a shorter urethra that is closer to the anus, this increases the chances of bacteria reaching a woman’s bladder.

We’ve all heard that cranberry juice is the great problem solver when it comes to urinary tract infections and UTI symptoms, but is that true? What can you do to prevent a UTI in the first place? What does sex have to do with it?

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Forget these myths about UTI causes & treatments

Before we get to the tips and tricks of managing and preventing UTIs, let’s eliminate falsehoods, myths and misleading statements that we find in common wisdom. Myths aside, keep in mind that some women are just more prone to getting UTIs than others.

You can catch a UTI from having sex.

Not the case, a UTI is not like a sexually transmitted disease you can contract. If you notice that you frequently experience a UTI within 24 hours after sex, it could be causing your infection because sexual activity makes it easy for the bacteria living in your intestines or on your skin around your vaginal and rectal area to move into the urethra. Friction and certain positions could increase the chances of a UTI. Ensuring proper hygiene, both before and after sex, can help lower the risk. Also, immediate urination after sex can kill bacteria and clean the urethra.

My UTI will go away on its own.

Many times, they do … and many times they don’t. And it’s not just a matter of enduring a little more pain. UTIs caused by E. coli (and most are) have become resistant to antibiotics we often use to treat a UTI and UTI symptoms. An untreated UTI can cause more problems up the urinary tract into the kidneys.

Getting a UTI means I’m not cleaning myself properly.

Actually, cleaning can cause a UTI. Using harsh chemicals and soaps on the vagina can kill off the “good” bacteria that can prevent the bad bacteria that cause a UTI from getting out of control. Poor hygiene in the private area doesn’t cause a UTI. Poor bathroom habits can (see below on allergic reactions).

From soap to caffeine, UTI triggers are everywhere

While it may seem that everything can cause a UTI and bring on UTI symptoms, there is hope. By taking a few precautions and removing risks from your routine, you can lower your chances of contracting a urinary tract infection.

  • E. coli is the most common cause of a urinary tract infection. The bacteria can easily travel from the rectum to the vaginal area, which can cause an infection. Prevent this transfer by wiping front to back during a bathroom visit.
  • An allergic reaction to certain bath or feminine products. The allergy can cause a growth of microorganisms leading to a UTI. Removing the offending product from your daily routine can help lower your risk.
  • Some contraceptives can cause an infection. Birth control methods such as diaphragms or spermicide can cause a UTI. If you believe your UTI may be caused by birth control, speak with your doctor.
  • Dehydration is a problem for your whole body. By drinking plenty of water, you can regularly flush out the bacteria that can cause a UTI, so remember to drink up.
  • Chemicals and additives in food have been found to be triggers for conditions that can seem like UTI symptoms. Avoid taking in too much fructose, caffeine and sugar. Limiting alcohol intake is also a good prevention method.

Does fruit juice help?

A UTI is caused by bacteria taking hold inside the urinary tract. If the bacteria cannot get a firm hold, you are less inclined to have an infection. Cranberry juice has been shown to help fight, and prevent, a UTI. There is a chemical component of cranberry fruit that naturally acidifies the urine. While cranberry juice contains this active ingredient, cranberry pills are more concentrated and don’t come with added sugar. This may be a useful tool in your arsenal to prevent UTIs.

If the infection has progressed and there are significant UTI symptoms, we may prescribe antibiotics.

Are all juices created equal? Dr. Lieb explains which juices help cure and prevent urologic aliments.

Key UTI & UTI symptoms takeaways

A urinary tract infection is a very common, and almost likely, infection for women to contract. There are easy treatment and prevention methods to keep reduce your chances of getting a UTI.

    1. Stay hydrated.
    2. Urinate as soon as you feel the urge.
    3. Wash the genital area both before and after sex.
    4. Wipe front to back.
    5. Cranberry tablets really can help.
    6. Contact your doctor, or make an appointment with us, if the UTI symptoms are severe.