Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are an extremely common, uncomfortable and painful condition affecting women of all ages. In fact, it is estimated that 50-60% of women will suffer from a UTI at some point in their lives. It is also common for women who have had a UTI in the past to experience recurrent infections.
If you are experiencing symptoms of a UTI, it's a good idea to seek medical attention as soon as possible, however, there are also a number of things you can do to prevent UTIs or help relieve symptoms if you've already been diagnosed.
HISTORY OF URINARY TRACT INFECTION
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a condition that has been around for thousands of years, mainly affecting the health and wellbeing of women. Treatment of UTIs has historically been very different than it is today.
During the days of ancient Egypt, urine was considered an important diagnostic tool for identifying diseases. Physicians looked at urine and determined what disease a person had based on its color and smell. For the treatment of a urinary tract infection, they recommended drinking a mixture of water, milk and honey. This was believed to be effective due to the antibacterial properties of honey.
However, in the Middle Ages, urinary tract infections were thought to be caused by an excess of black bile in the body, and treatment usually involved leeches *yuck* or copper to draw the bile out of the body.
It wasn't until the Renaissance that it was discovered that bacteria were the main cause of UTIs and that antibiotic treatment was most effective.
Over the course of the 20th century, effective antibiotics were developed to treat urinary tract infections, making the disease more manageable and less dangerous. Today, antibiotics are usually recommended for UTIs, although there is also a lot you can do to prevent this highly uncomfortable condition that women of all ages suffer from.
THE CAUSE OF URINARY TRACT INFECTION
Urinary tract infection is typically caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract. The most common bacteria that cause urinary tract infections are Escherichia coli (E.coli), which are usually found in the gut and the area around the anus.
A UTI can occur as a result of bacteria spreading from the anus to the urinary tract through the urethra. Women are more likely to develop a UTI than men because women's urethra is shorter, making it easier for bacteria to get to the bladder.
SYMPTOMS OF URINARY TRACT INFECTION
While UTIs are certainly no picnic, it's important to remember that UTIs are common and can be easily treated. Of course, if you experience any of the symptoms below, it's important to seek medical attention. If you have a UTI, remember that you may also need to take care of yourself with a little extra love and care♥
Below you will find some of the most common symptoms of a urinary tract infection:
- Pain or a burning sensation when you urinate
This is extremely uncomfortable and can feel like you're peeing barbed wire, but don't forget that it's your amazing body♥ telling you that something needs to be fixed.
- Frequent urination
Having to pee frequently can be annoying, but it also means your body is trying to get rid of the infection.
- Abdominal pressure or pain
This may feel uncomfortable, but remember that it's because your body is working hard to fight the infection.
- Blood in the urine
In case of blood in the urine, you should always contact your doctor as it could be a sign of a more serious urinary tract infection.
- Fever and shivering
Fever can be a sign of a more serious infection and is your body's natural defense against infection. If you develop a fever associated with a urinary tract infection, always seek medical attention.
FACTORS THAT INCREASE THE RISK OF URINARY TRACT INFECTION
- Hormonal changes such as menopause, menstrual cycles and pregnancy can make some women more susceptible to UTIs.
- Urine that stays in the urinary tract due to a blockage or narrowing, giving bacteria time to grow and spread.
- A weakened immune system, which makes it harder for your body to fight off infections.
- Your urinary tract anatomy, such as a narrow urethra, can make it harder for the body to expel bacteria.
- Sexual activity can increase the risk of bacteria spreading from the rectum to the urinary tract.
- Some spermicides and contraceptives can irritate the urethra and make it easier for bacteria to enter the urethra.
URINARY TRACT INFECTION & SEX
Having sex can increase the risk of a urinary tract infection. This is because bacteria in the area can spread to the urethra during intercourse. Women are also at greater risk of urinary tract infections during sex as they have shorter urethras than men, making it easier for bacteria to enter.
An increase in sexual activity that leads to greater strain on the urethra can cause a mild infection and similar symptoms, which is why UTIs are sometimes referred to as 'honeymoon cystitis'.
A new sexual partner also means new bacterial flora, which also increases the risk of infection. Peeing after sex can help flush out any bacteria that may have entered the urinary tract during intercourse.
UTIs are not contagious, but it is not recommended to have sex during an ongoing UTI as intercourse can increase infection by spreading more bacteria through the urethra. The bacterial flora in the vagina changes even if you are being treated with antibiotics, which can make you more susceptible to bacteria that you would normally be able to avoid.
URINARY TRACT INFECTION IN WOMEN AGED 50+
Menopausal women may be at increased risk of UTIs due to hormonal changes that affect urinary tract health. As estrogen production decreases during menopause, the urinary tract's ability to defend itself can become weaker, which can lead to UTIs.
Other factors that can increase the risk of UTIs during menopause are due to a reduced amount of the "good" vaginal lactobacilli that help protect against infections.
Dry and fragile mucous membranes are also common after menopause, which can affect the tissues of the urinary tract, including the urethra and bladder. This can make them more susceptible to infection. As the tissues in the urinary tract become thinner and less elastic, the urethra can become irritated and inflamed, which can lead to urinary tract infections.
VagiVital AktivGel strengthens and moisturizes the mucous membrane, which may be why so many women report that the gel has also helped them prevent urinary tract infections.
"There have been several problems with dryness in recent years, which reduces resistance to urinary tract infections. I only use it once a week and it really helps!"
You can find VagiVital AktivGel here
PREVENTING URINARY TRACT INFECTION
To prevent urinary tract infections, there are some things you can do.
- Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated can help flush bacteria out of the urinary tract, which is an important preventative measure against urinary tract infection. The urinary tract plays an important role in the body, helping to remove waste products and excess fluid. When we drink enough water, urine production increases and urine is diluted, reducing the risk of bacterial growth and infection.
- URINATE REGULARLY
Frequent urination is another important preventative measure against urinary tract infection. As urine stays in the bladder for a long time, bacteria can start to multiply and cause infection. By urinating regularly, you empty your bladder and reduce the risk of bacterial growth. It is also important to empty the bladder completely and not retain urine, as this can lead to bacteria remaining in the bladder and can also increase the risk of urinary tract infection.
- WIPE PROPERLY AND CORRECTLY
Yes, you've probably heard it before, but it's important. After you go to the toilet, wipe from front to back. If you wipe from back to front, there is a risk of intestinal bacteria entering the vagina, which can lead to a urinary tract infection.
- AVOID IRRITATION FROM PRODUCTS
The use of irritating products, such as perfumed soaps, can irritate the urinary tract and disrupt the natural bacterial flora that acts as a defense against infection. Although many women want to use an intimate wash to cleanse the vagina, it's important to choose the right product. VagiVital V Cleanser is an intimate cleanser that has the same moisturizing and unique properties as AktivGel, but with a little added Swedish botanical oil. Soaps can risk drying out the vagina and oils can barely remove fat-soluble impurities. Although VagiVital V Cleanser is soap-free, it can cleanse both fat- and water-soluble impurities while moisturizing without disturbing the delicate pH balance of the vagina.
You can find VagiVital V Cleanser here
- USE THE BATHROOM AFTER SEX
During sex, bacteria can enter the urethra and cause infection. Urinating immediately after sex can help prevent urinary tract infections as any bacteria that may have entered the urethra is flushed away.
UTIs can often be both painful and uncomfortable, but it might help to remember how far we've come since the Middle Ages when leeches were used as a treatment. In the event that you experience symptoms of a UTI, it's important to seek medical attention, but there are also many things you can do to alleviate symptoms and prevent infection.
Take care of yourself ♥