Unless you've been blessed with a urethra from the goddesses, chances are you've experienced that excruciating burning sensation known as a UTI. Between 50 to 60 percent of all women will experience at least one UTI in their lifetime, with an average of 8.1 million women going to the doctor each year for an infection in their lady parts. While UTIs are common and can be easily cured, if not checked, they can lead to other lethal infections.
So sit back, chug that cranberry juice, pop that Cystex, for God's sake go to the doctor, and read on about things you did (or maybe didn't) want to know about UTIs.
1. What does it stand for?
This is the only question I will give you shit about. (Really, you should know this!) The acronym stands for Urinary Tract Infection, because the infection takes place in the urethra. You know, the first hole.
2. How do I get them?
Infection happens when bacteria gets trapped in the urethra and bladder, and then multiplies in the urine. Thankfully, they're not contagious!
3. How do I know if I have a UTI?
Oh, you will absolutely know. Speaking from personal experience, it essentially feels like your bladder is on fire and that you constantly have to pee, even when "you don't have to."
My funny in retrospect UTI moment was the time I was hooked up to a catheter at the hospital, and screamed at the doctors to unhook me because I had to pee. They tried to tell me I "didn't have to" and they were right... only a damn UTI. Sadly ladies, once you have one UTI, you're more likely to get another.
4. Can I get a UTI from sex?
Yes, yes, and I'm sorry, yes. UTI's even have a nickname, "honeymoon cystitis" (cystitis means bladder infection) because frequent intercourse means increased chances of developing an infection. They don't call it doing the dirty for nothing!
Think about it: With all that bacteria down there (hey, I'm just being honest), there's a good chance some will get trapped in your urethra. Women are also more likely to get a UTI the first time they have sex with a new partner.
5. Can I still have sex then?
Duh. Just be sure to go to the bathroom after you do, it cuts your chances of getting a UTI significantly. If you can jump in the shower afterwards, even better. And because safe sex is best sex, it's important to know that certain barrier methods such as spermicide and diaphragms are linked to a higher risk of UTIs.
6. Why aren't men punished with this burning infection from hell?
As a matter of fact, they are! Men can still get UTIs, they just anatomically have a longer urethra, which also happens to be located further away from their anus than in women. The "short distance" in women's anatomy means higher susceptibility. To help with this, remember, shower often and always wipe front to back.
Also, going from anal sex to vaginal sex is just a bad idea for obvious reasons.
7. What's this "lethal" biz you said earlier?
Many UTIs are harmless if treated, but if you let bacteria continue to grow in your urethra (gross and painful), there is a chance it can lead to a kidney infection. From personal experience, you DO NOT want a kidney infection.
After locking myself in a bathroom with an outlet so I could pee and work simultaneously (freshman me was really clever) I suddenly felt like I was being stabbed with a knife in my left side. After a quick trip to the hospital I learned my UTI had turned into a kidney infection. If I hadn't gone to the hospital, I was told my kidney infection could've lead to sepsis aka blood poisoning aka death. Scary stuff.
8. But easily treatable, ya?
Yes, you can breathe easy. If you already have a UTI, prescribed oral antibiotics usually kick in quickly to knock out the infection. Just make sure you take them for the full course, not just when you start to feel better (otherwise the infection might return).
Some people also swear by cranberry juice and cranberry pills to prevent and reduce the infection, but the actual science behind it is iffy. Or you could also pop an over-the-counter medicine, like Cystex. Note: While OTC meds can help ease the discomfort of a UTI, it's important to remember that the only cure is a prescription.
So, if you have a UTI. Go to the doctor, get a prescription. You know, be an adult.
And the best solution? Prevention. Drink tons of water, don't douche, pee frequently, wear breathable clothing and underwear (yes, your thong might be a culprit), and limit the bubble baths.
Here's to keeping it happy and healthy down there!