Myth-Busting About UTIs
Myth-Busting About UTIs

Busting Myths About UTIs

Urinary tract infections are common among women—about half of women will experience them. Also common are myths surrounding UTIs. Here are some facts.

Your Health

From Women's Health Foundation


Let's start with busting myth #1 about urinary tract infections (UTI): It does not mean you're dirty. It only means that some bacteria have made their way inside your body. Where it doesn't belong. Where it's causing all kinds of trouble. Bacteria is kind of like invisible dirt, but it doesn't count as being "dirty." Bacteria is everywhere.

The truth is that about half of women will experience a UTI in their lifetime, and pregnancy increases risk. Clearly, this is a very common problem. It is also an avoidable one. The best place to start is by understanding how an infection begins.

What is a UTI?

Here's what it is not (busting myths #2 & #3): A UTI is not a sexually transmitted disease, and it is not contagious. It just isn't. Anyone can get them. Babies. Girls. Boys. Your mom. Your daughter. Your dog.

A urinary tract infection develops when bacteria gets inside your urethra, the tube that carries pee from your bladder and out of your body. The bacteria finds a place to hang out, like in your bladder or kidneys, where it multiplies and starts to irritate your organs.

How does the bacteria get in there, you ask?

Time to finally bust the big one, myth #4: Sex does not cause urinary tract infections. Here are the real answers to this question:

Wiping the wrong way.
Front to back is the way to go. You know this! Anything else and you risk getting little poop particles into your vagina. It's all downhill from there.

Holding your pee ALL. DAY. LONG.
Please don't do this to yourselves. All that waste builds up inside you, gets stale and can lead to infection.

Using fancy soaps, bubble baths or hot tubs.
 The artificial ingredients and chemicals can irritate your skin. Unfortunately, they can enter your body and irritate your insides as well.

Wearing clothes that are too tight.
Your jeans look great! But, they cause your underwear to ride up, which can push bacteria inside you.

Not urinating after sex.
This is likely where myth #4 began, but it's just a hygiene thing. After all that closeness, going to the bathroom helps flush the bacteria away.

In addition, drink a lot of fluids, wear cotton underwear and go to the bathroom regularly and completely.

How do you know you have a UTI?

If you feel any of these symptoms, it's time to see a doctor:

  • Pain that feels like it's coming from your bladder.  This is specific and different from cramps during your period.
  • A burning sensation, especially when you pee.
  • An unusual odor or color to your pee. If you see blood, definitely get to your health care professional right away.
  • Feeling like you have to pee but not much comes out.
  • Fever and sometimes feeling tired and shaky.

Your doctor will want to test a urine sample to determine the type of bacteria causing your infection.  Based on the results, you'll be prescribed an antibiotic to resolve the issue.

Talk to your health care professional if recurrence is an issue. Incontinence can also play a role, so think about what products you use to manage that condition. A switch might be in order.

UTIs are common but not normal. Contact your health care professional if you have symptoms.

Jill Grech is the former Women's Health Foundation Marketing and Community Manager and currently Web strategic marketing manager for Loyola University and digital marketing consultant.

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