Urinary tract infection, also known as UTI or bladder infections, are a common infection in any part of the urinary system such as the urethra, the bladder, or the kidneys. Common symptoms include a frequent urge to urinate, and a painful burning feeling during urination. There are over 3 million cases of UTI’s every year in the US, making them one of the most common infections. There is a lot of different information out there on UTI’s, so here are some common myths you might hear about them
Most UTI’s are caused by the bacterium Escherichia coli, or E. Coli. Research shows that some birth control methods such as spermicide or a diaphragm also can contribute to causes of UTI’s. Other factors such as urinary tract complications or abnormalities could be to blame. So even with perfect hygiene habits, you can still fall victim to a UTI.
While UTI’s are more common for women due to a shorter urinary tract, it’s still possible for men to develop a UTI. UTI’s in men are more common in older age since older men are more likely to develop an enlarged prostate gland which in turn increases the risk for developing an UTI.
Sex can be a trigger for women to develop UTI’s, but as we talked about earlier it is not the only cause. However anytime a woman has sex, she is coming into contact with bacteria and putting herself at risk for getting a UTI. Some ways to prevent UTI’s associated with sex is to urinate at least 30 minutes before and after sex, clean your genital area before and after sex, and stay hydrated.
Of course, if you’ve had several UTI’s in a span of 6 months, you should look more closely into it. But UTI’s are so common that some women can have recurring infections close together. Although most UTI’s go away on their own, if you experience any symptoms you should see your doctor to get tested for a UTI.
It is often recommended to drink cranberry juice to cure a UTI. Lab experiments with mice show that cranberry juice has substances that do lower the bacteria count in the bladder. However, there is no strong evidence that drinking cranberry juice eliminates the infection or speeds up recovery.
Even though many UTI’s go away on their own, if you experience any symptoms of a UTI you should go see your doctor. If left untreated, UTI’s can spread and cause a kidney infection or other more serious issues.
You can even get tested for a UTI at Student Health Service for $10! You can make an appointment online by clicking this link: https://www.uwec.edu/shs/
If you are diagnosed with a UTI, you will be prescribed an antibiotic. Make sure that you take the FULL COURSE of the antibiotics, even after you feel better. Stopping the antibiotic treatment prematurely can encourage growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria, making UTI’s harder to treat.
Written by a member of the UWEC Student Wellness Advocacy Team
Edited by Christy Prust