Burning urination, frequent trips to the bathroom, and an odd odor from your urine are just a few of the symptoms that make urinary tract infections (UTIs) so bothersome. Every year, 8.1 million people reach out to their healthcare providers about a UTI, and many of them receive low-dose antibiotics to treat the infection.
Women account for the majority of UTI cases because of the way their anatomy is configured. Your urethra is near your anus, which is a hotbed of infection-causing bacteria such as E. coli.
While over 60% of women experience a UTI in their lifetimes, just 12% of men do. Although bacteria are more likely to make their way into women’s urinary tracts than men’s, it doesn’t mean you’re unhygienic or doing something incorrectly if you get recurrent UTIs (though you should always wipe front to back to avoid dragging bacteria toward your urethra).
A single UTI can cause discomfort for roughly a week, but that discomfort feels far less manageable when you’re experiencing infections repeatedly. If you get recurrent UTIs, you can trust the team at Westmed Family Healthcare in Westminster, Colorado, for urgent care services including UTI diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
Here we offer some insight into why you get recurrent UTIs and what you can do about it.
How your urinary tract becomes infected
Your urinary tract extends from your kidneys to your urethra. Most UTIs start in your urethra when bacteria enter from the outside. An infection can migrate upward toward your bladder and eventually up to your kidneys, which is why it’s important to visit your doctor when you get symptoms.
Kidney infections can have severe consequences, so go to the emergency room if you experience signs such as a fever, back pain, nausea, and chills.
Why your UTI keeps coming back
There are a few reasons why some women seem to get UTIs all the time. The specific risk factors for recurrent UTIs can change over the course of your life, with common examples being:
Frequent sexual intercourse
Your urinary tract is normally sterile, but when you have sexual intercourse, this is no longer the case. Sexual intercourse can increase the number of bacteria that gets into your urethra and bladder, which is why so many experts suggest urinating immediately after you have sex. Doing so flushes out much of the bacteria that entered your urinary tract.
Spermicides are a type of contraception that deter sperm before they make it up to a healthy egg. Some spermicides are applied before sexual intercourse, while others coat condoms.
Though spermicides can be effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies, they increase your risk of urinary tract infections. This is because they’re not only toxic to sperm but also to some of your vaginal flora (the “good” bacteria) too.
Postmenopausal women experience significant changes in their pelvic function because of the hormonal and anatomical shifts associated with menopause.
One of those changes is a reduced ability to fully empty your bladder when you urinate because of weaker bladder contractions. Menopause also impacts your vaginal flora, which sets the stage for more frequent UTIs.
Preventing recurrent UTIs
Westmed Family Healthcare can offer solutions and suggestions to reduce your urinary tract infections, thus lowering your risk for more serious complications like kidney infections. Low-dose antibiotics are a common way to manage recurrent UTIs, though your body can become resistant to antibiotics over time. You should only use antibiotics as prescribed.
You can also take matters into your own hands by:
- Drinking lots of water
- Avoiding spermicides
- Emptying your bladder right after sex
- Considering vaginal estrogen therapy after menopause
- Avoiding tight underwear and tight pants
Westmed Family Healthcare is here to help when you struggle with a UTI, whether it’s your first one or one of many recurrent infections.
Schedule an appointment online or over the phone today. Westmed Family Healthcare offers same-day appointments so you don’t have to wait days or weeks for UTI answers and treatment.