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Anatomy of a UTI

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Most UTIs can be cured with 2 to 3 days of treatment. The bad news is that they may occur frequently in women.

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Urinary tract infections (UTI) among women outnumber their counterparts by a large margin. The reason they are so femininely popular is partly anatomical and partly hygienic. Females have a shorter urinary tract than men and the urethra is in close proximity to anal Escherichia coli (E. coli). Rarely, UTIs can be due to viral or fungal infections.

An infection occurs when bacteria enters the urethra, con­ta­mina­ting the bladder (cystitis), and if unchecked, the kidneys (pyelonephritis). About 1 in 5 women experience a urinary tract infection, while some are plagued incessantly. As a concerned person, you may be predisposed to them. Before identifying ways to prevent UTIs, first isolate the individual symptoms and common ways to contract them.

Anatomy of a UTI
Urine may contain pus (pyuria), as with sepsis due to a UTI.

Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms

How do you know if you have a UTI?

  • Burning feeling during urination.
  • Frequent or intense urge to urinate, though little is expelled.
  • Pain or pressure in your back or lower abdomen.
  • Cloudy, dark, bloody, or strange-smelling urine.
  • Feeling tired or shaky.
  • Fever or chills (sign infection reaches kidneys).
  • Pain above the pubic bone or in the lower back.

Ways You Get UTIs

You may contract UTIs both for reasons within and beyond your control.

  • Blocked flow of urine
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Contraception method
  • Diabetes
  • Frequent, intense sexual intercourse
  • Having a urinary catheter
  • Heavy antibiotic use
  • Kidney stones
  • Medical urinary tract procedures
  • Menopause
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Partial bladder emptying
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Pregnancy
  • Prolonged immobility
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Unsanitary sexual practices
  • Use of spermicides and tampons

Urinary tract infections are not limited to women. Between 5 and 8 in every 10,000 men under 50 years old contract UTIs. The prostate is a target for secondary infection. Risk of infection increases with age. A doctor specializing in urology can offer individual treatment.

⚠️ Routine UTI Screening Caution

The United States Preventive Services Task Force concluded that for virtually everyone except pregnant women, screening for and treating asymptomatic bacteriuria provides no benefit and has potential harms. The Infectious Diseases Society of America also cautioned against screening and treating, except for pregnant women and patients about to undergo invasive urologic procedures.

This strenuous effort is aimed at reducing the persistent overuse of antibiotics. Antibiotics wipes out protective microbes in the gastrointestinal tract and increasing people’s vulnerability to C. difficile, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called an “urgent threat.” Follow any course of antibiotics with a variety of probiotics.

How to Reducate UTIs

Anatomy of a UTI

For most women, UTI prevention is possible. From 80–90% of UTIs are from E. coli, a fecal bacteria. Women practicing good hygiene who drink a glass of cranberry juice daily can minimize UTIs.

Cranberries contain compounds that prevent the bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract wall. Cranberry juice, however, is not a cure-all for all urinary system health like kidney stones. It decreases urinary uric acid perhaps by retarding urate synthesis. This pH alteration increases risk of calcium oxalate and uric acid stone formation but decreases the risk of brushite stones.

  • Drink at least eight glasses of water daily.
  • Empty bladder frequently and completely as soon as you feel the need to go.
  • Wipe from front to back when visiting the toilet.
  • Regularly clean up with showers instead of baths.
  • Avoid irritating feminine hygiene sprays, scented douches, and scented bath products.
  • Cleanse your genital area before sex.
  • Urinate after sex to flush away bacteria that may have entered your urethra.
  • Avoid diaphragm, unlubricated condoms, or spermicidal jelly for birth control.
  • Keep genitals dry by wearing clean cotton underwear.
  • Do not wear tight-fitting pants.

Indiscriminate hook-ups are recipes for UTIs. Among young women, frequent sexual activity is the cause of 75–90% of bladder infections. Partners some­times assume that their mate contracting a UTI is a sign of infi­delity. Though promis­cuous dalli­ances increase risk for this sexually transmitted infection, it can also occur as a result of frequent coitus with the same partner.

The term “honeymoon cystitis” refers to recurring UTIs during early marriage. As previous­ly mentioned, there are also several non-sexual causes. With diligent hygiene, you can remain healthy and reduce infection.

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