Recurrent UTIs Explained: Why Do I Keep Getting Them?

There are multiple reasons that make some women more susceptible to UTIs than others. Here are some common causes of recurrent UTIs and tips for reducing the risk of contracting one.

When it comes to UTIs there’s no ambiguity about it. When you’ve got one, you sure as hell know about it. They feel like you’re peeing glass, literally. If you’re reading this you likely have one or are prone to recurrent UTIs, so sit back (with a heat pack) and read on, we’ve got you.

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What is a UTI?

If you’re experiencing pain when you urinate a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is usually the culprit. A UTI is an infection in any part of the urinary system – think kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. UTIs happen when bacteria, often E. coli, gets into your bladder or urethra resulting in unpleasant symptoms like a persistent urge to hit up the bathroom and burning when you pee. Unfortunately, it’s bad news for women – females are at greatest risk of developing the infection than men. Generally UTIs are pretty harmless and easily treated but when left untreated they can lead to more serious consequences.

The symptoms

The most noted symptoms of a UTI are frequent peeing, passing small amounts of urine and a strong burning sensation but the below are also common:

  • Urine that appears cloudy
  • Urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-colored — a sign of blood in the urine
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Fever, tiredness or shakiness
  • Pelvic pain, in women — especially in the center of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone
  • Pressure in your lower belly

UTIs are diagnosed through a basic urine test then, if positive, treated with a course of antibiotics and Ural.

UTI symptoms and treament

Abdonimal pressure and cramps are also a common symptom of UTIs / @shethinx

WHY!?

Now the causes – that’s where it’s not so straight-forward.

Firstly, you’re more likely to fall victim to a UTI if you have diabetes, use spermicides or a diaphragm, have kidney stones or other urinary complications.

None of that apply to you? You’re not alone – most women experience UTIs without any underlying conditions. Although the urinary system is designed to keep out microscopic bacteria sometimes it just lets us down and unfortunately, most of the time, that’s all there is to it.

Recurrent UTIs

The only thing suckier than getting a UTI is getting a UTI again…and again. according to the American Academy of Family Physicians 30-44 percent of women who get a UTI will get a second one within six months…it’s a cruel world.

Let’s talk about sex, baby

While it’s not a given that sex will lead to a UTI, 80 percent of pre-menopausal females with a UTI had been in sexual contact 24 hours prior. Essentially it comes down to sex jostling around the bacteria down there. That’s where the old adage “always pee after sex” comes in – turns out there’s real merit in it. Passing urine helps to flush out contamination before it does damage.

So, can you still get cosy between the sheets with a UTI? The good news is yes…if it’s being treated. But it’s most likely you won’t want to. Double whammy…UTI’s also drain your libido (temporarily) but, if your symptoms have receded and you’re on antibiotics then by all means go for it.

The ‘M’ word

As if menopause isn’t tough enough, it can also be a trigger for UTIs. This is thanks to a postmenopausal decline in estrogen that alters the vaginal pH and flora, which can make it more hospitable to the kind of bacteria that cause UTIs. However, there are some options like topical estrogen that can help to alleviate the risk of infection. It’s definitely worth consulting your doctor if you’re going through or have finished menopause and getting recurrent UTIs.

Cheers mum 😉

Increased susceptibility to UTIs can also come down to a first-degree relative. According to studies if your parents have a history of having five or more UTIs it could be inherited.

All hope is not lost!

BUT, if you do have a tendency to get em’ on the reg there are a few small lifestyle tweaks that make a big difference when it comes to avoiding UTIs.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

If you’ve had a UTI you’ve probably been told by your doctor to drinks lots of water. Drink the recommended intake of water (2.7 litres of water for women and 3.7 litres for men) to help avoid contracting one and if you’ve already got one up your water intake. Water helps to flush out any bad bacteria.

Don’t hold in pee!

Sometimes we’re too busy being busy that we hold onto our pee or forget to go. The simplest way to prevent a UTI is to flush bacteria out of the bladder, which means going to the toilet. If you’re prone to infection be sure to relieve yourself often.

Wipe front to back

Hopefully we don’t need to explain this one…

Steer clear of irritants

If you’re a walking UTI then scented body washes, douches, feminine deodorants are not your friend!

Cotton softs

Doctors also advise women who get UTIs often to wear cotton underwear because it’s soft, absorbent and allows air to flow through so it doesn’t trap moisture.

Try switching to cotton underwear if you’re prone to UTIs.

Probiotics

Research has found that taking probiotics daily can help to stay ahead of a UTI. Probiotics contain good bacteria, which can help to keep the bad bacteria from growing inside. You’ll find probiotics in fermented foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut and kombucha or you can take them through supplementation. Try our Multi-Flora Probiotic or High-Potency Probiotic.

Main image: Unsplash

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