UTI myths, cleared up All about you
If a urinary tract infection has ever sneaked up on you, read this.
you probably know the symptoms: that need-to-pee-rightnow feeling and the burning sensation when you do. But why do you get them? How can you stop it? We bust the myths open.
Myth We get UTIS only from sex Yes, sexy time is the most common cause; nearly 80% of infections in young women occur within a day of intercourse. “The backand-forth rhythm propels bacteria from your vulva, vagina or rectum into your bladder,” explains Dr Lisa Dabney, an obstetrician and gynaecologist. But UTIS also just happen – other triggers include wiping back to front and masturbating. Having a condition that blocks your urinary tract, like kidney stones, or that affects your immune system, like diabetes, can also make you vulnerable. If you get them frequently, but not after sex, let your doctor know.
Myth Just call your doctor and get meds Wrong move! “Even if a patient is sure she has a UTI, I still make her come in, so I can get a sample,” says Dr Dabney. Many conditions mimic UTI symptoms, and even hospitals screw them up. According to a study, under 50% of UTIS diagnosed in ERS were identified correctly (some were STIS!), so see your doc. “If you don’t have a UTI – or if you do, but it doesn’t respond to the antibiotic – we can adjust,” Dr Dabney says.
Myth Cranberry juice prevents UTIS Sadly, no! “One theory was that cranberry juice altered the ph level of urine, making it more acidic and less hospitable for bacteria,” says Dr Deepak Kapoor. However, a review concluded that cranberry juice didn’t really reduce the occurrence of UTIS. Stick to regular H2O. “It flushes out the bladder without any sugar or artificial ingredients,” says Dr Kapoor.
Myth Peeing before and after sex will prevent infection Hit the bathroom before and after sex, and you’re in the clear, right? Unfortunately, there’s never been great research to prove that this habit reduces your chances of getting a UTI. Doctors do recommend peeing, but only after sex, saying it can’t hurt. “But if you urinate before sex, it’s hard to urinate after, and you want a steady stream of urine to flush out bacteria,” says Dr Kapoor. Myth Some sex positions increase your risk In truth, whether you stand, sit or lie down doesn’t matter. “Those bacteria are equal opportunity offenders: they’ll find their way into your urethra any way they can,” says gynaecologist Dr Mary Jane Minkin. The one thing that does have an impact? “Switching from anal intercourse to vaginal is a guaranteed way to introduce bad bacteria into your urinary tract,” Dr Minkin says. (If you’re going from anal to vaginal in the same session, have your partner wash off and use a new condom.) Too much suction during oral sex can also cause similar symptoms. “I’ve seen patients who can’t pee or who complain that it burns because their partner sucked so hard it inflamed their clitoris and urethra,” says obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Hilda Hutcherson. Love the enthusiasm, but ask your partner to ease up a smidge!
Myth UTIS are catchy Nope. Sex can trigger a UTI, but your partner doesn’t pass on the bacteria. “Bacteria living near the vulva and the opening to the urethra get pushed inside [the bladder] by intercourse,” explains Dr Dabney. But it’s easy to see how this myth began: we often get UTIS when we have sex after a long break or after hooking up with someone new. “When you change partners, sex is different,” says Dr Kapoor. “The length and girth of his penis and the way you both move can affect how much bacteria is swept into your urinary tract. As a result, you may be more or less likely to get an infection.”