UTI myths, cleared up All about you

If a uri­nary tract in­fec­tion has ever sneaked up on you, read this.

Glamour (South Africa) - - All about you -

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.”

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