A little more common than you may think, probably because it’s something we feel we still can’t talk about freely, is the experience of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). May be even more taboo is the experience of this visitor…. after Sex!
With an estimated prevalence of over 150 million UTIs each year, young women come up trumps in those figures. They say that one (1) out of two (2) of us will develop one in a lifetime. So, it’s not just a little……meh…….at stats, these visitors are not nice for anyone that has experienced some of their nasty symptoms.
Most Urinary Tract Infections are caused by bacteria or germs that make their way up through our urethras into our bladders. – remember our urethra is the tube or tract that carries urine from the bladder! For most of us, these bacterial infections make their presence known by leaving us quite uncomfortable. Each experience of UTI symptoms can be common and yet still unique to some. Recognising when you have this nasty visitor is important so you can get help early to fight off and beat them well and good. They should never interfere with your daily life and get in the way of our relationships and desiring to be intimate with someone.
Sex and UTIs
Simply said, having sex can increase the chance of bacteria being moved around our genital area. They then can travel up into the urethra to our bladder causing these dreaded infections. Latest research indicates different parts of our bodies, such as our skin, gut, urinary system, vagina and more, have very distinct and different communities (microbiome) of bacteria/microbes that are friendly in the places where they belong…. but not so friendly when they go elsewhere. Most UTIs are unfortunately caused by E.coli bacteria, which are perfectly normal in the bowel and our poo contents but are nasty when they can reach beyond our anus to our urinary system.
Things to take note of….
That burning feeling
If you’re getting that burning feeling when you try to pee and it just feels like fire down there, you most likely have a UTI. You may even experience pain, an ache or discomfort in your lower tummy area where your bladder is when you also try to pee. It should be a relief to pee and never something to dread in any way because of burning sensations or lower tummy pain.
Just busting to go…and zilch
You get the urge like you want to go and pee but when you go……nothing comes out! Even, maybe, a little dribble…. but just zilch considering how much you feel like you need to go.
Sometimes if you’re busting, experiencing an uncontrollable urge to pee, you can accidently leak before you make it to the toilet. Unpleasant as that is, it’s a strong sign you need some help and give further thought and effort to those Pelvic Floor Exercises in building healthy awareness and control below.
Poor Pelvic Floor Muscles function can also affect how well you empty your bladder. In some cases, urine stays inside the bladder encouraging bacteria to multiply and not get flushed out, which can lead to an infection.
You just need to go…. like lots!!
Another tell-tale sign that you probably have an infection is the times you frequent the bathroom. Multiple visits to the toilet to make mostly little piddly deposits can be incredibly frustrating and even exhausting. When you’re uncomfortable and just want ease and normality in your day, especially with those liquid deposits you do every day, peeing every 5 minutes never ever makes the cut.
Cloudy with…. a smell
You may be noticing a slightly more pungent odour to your urine than usual. We’d encourage you to look at the colour of your liquid deposits too, get familiar and know what’s normal. Check out a great tool here, it’s a Urine colour chart, which gives you a helpful visual depiction of what to look out for. When your pee is cloudy or darker than normal, then it’s a possible indication that you are really dehydrated, or you have a UTI. When you have a bacterial infection, your bladder and urethral tissue lining becomes irritated and sometimes bleeds, causing your urine to stain a little pink.
Things to do that help
…. That important pee
After having sex it’s good to get into the habit of going to the toilet to reduce the chance of bacteria moving up your urethra.
Drink that water elixir
Water is a great tool of course to keep you hydrated and will also help flush out bacteria that’s trying to reside within your urinary system. This can also help to alkalise your urine to help make it less acidic. Ensuring you drink at least 6-8 glasses or 1.5 – 2 litres of this liquid elixir …water our friend…..will help keep you going again after to help register a clear ‘no entry’ for these unwanted bacteria. Remember to check out this great tool to check if you’re drinking enough and remaining hydrated to help flush any unwanted visitors out!
That right wipe
The simple action of wiping gently front to back when we go to the toilet, especially when we make those solid deposits from our bowel out of our anus, helps to keep those E. coli bacteria away from our urethra and bladder.
So, it’s wise to have good toilet hygiene and good hygiene in general. Washing your hands after wiping yourself and washing your hands regularly after general daily activities is a good call. Ask your partner to do the same.
Some celebrities have sprouted messages lately that our vaginas and bits below should be smelling rather peachy or fragrant flower like. However, we each have our own unique vaginal microbiome or bacteria, which can be put out of balance and become unhealthy via douches or vaginal deodorants. Have a look at what we say about vaginas here. So, the call is really to stay clear of interfering with our own natural vagina odours and don’t use unnecessary products that can cause more problems than they’re worth.
Don’t hover….empty well
You can’t get infections from toilet seats. So, sitting properly on the toilet is a good habit rather than hovering for fear of the seat being dirty (we know some are…..just give them a wipe over with toilet paper or a sanitiser). When you hover, you don’t empty your bladder well. Some urine stays inside the bladder encouraging bacteria to multiply and not get flushed out! Your Pelvic Floor health can play a part. If you’re constipated, this can affect how well you empty your bladder too. Find out what you can do and get to the bottom….like….literally of being able to sit down, relax, and really let it all go.
Not feeling in the mood……
It’s important to state that if you have an infection, you can’t give it to your partner, but probably won’t feel in the mood for having sex. It’s a good call to hold off until you’re feeling more in the mood.
Although these visitors may be common, you shouldn’t let these go untreated. If you wait too long to get treatment a more serious kidney infection can develop. Symptoms like a high fever and back pain around the kidney area can develop which can be serious enough to send you to hospital. If you experience these symptoms along with nausea and vomiting for more than 24 hours, then you need to see a doc immediately.
You really do need further investigation and reach out for help if these visitors keep recurring, particularly if they’re happening again and again after you have sex. Getting down to the cause of your infections and preventing them so you can get back to enjoying relationships and intimate connection with your partner is the priority here.
If you think you have a UTI and are experiencing any of the symptoms we’ve talked about then it’s time to make an appointment to see your GP as soon as you can. Your Doc will likely take a pee sample and send it off to the lab to confirm you have an infection. These results will also help your Doc prescribe the right medication to treat your infection when they come through.
If need a Health Professional to actually talk with, you can make the call to the National Continence Helpline. Our supportive and experienced Health Professionals know heaps about symptoms to look out for regarding infections and can advise or direct you onto further help near to where you live if you need it!