Your urinary tract is located in your pelvic region and lower abdomen and has the task of disposing of waste after your body has processed nutrients and other materials.
It consists of your kidneys (each of which is about the size of your fist), ureter, urinary bladder (which can hold up to two cups of urine), and urethra, and helps to eliminate urea from your bloodstream in the form of urine that exits your body through your genitals.
Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are a common condition that can affect any part of your urinary system, and while not usually dangerous, they can lead to complications if they damage your kidneys. However, even if you get treated for this condition it can not only recur but become chronic.
If you’re dealing with recurring UTIs, let’s try to find out why by examining the common causes of this condition, the reasons it comes back again and again, and some methods of treatment and prevention.
The short answer for the cause of most UTIs is microorganisms, specifically, E.coli bacteria is responsible for 90% of cases. This bacteria lives in your large intestine and most strains are harmless, but several strains are known to cause different infections.
Sex and masturbation can move the bacteria to your urinary tract if it’s present, Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like mycoplasma, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes can also cause UTIs.
Women are more likely to get UTIs due to the shorter distance between their genitals and anus than is found in men, but other factors that can lead to UTIs include catheter use, recent urinary procedures, blockages in your urinary tract, a suppressed immune system, some forms of birth control, and menopause.
Since women are more likely to get UTIs, they’re also more likely to deal with chronic problems with the condition. Many of the same causes of these infections, including intercourse (specifically anal sex) and STDs can lead to chronic problems if steps aren’t taken to reduce the risks.
Diaphragms used during sex can sometimes keep urine from completely emptying from your bladder, leaving room for possible infection. Changes in your vaginal bacteria (which generally helps keep it healthy) can also lead to chronic problems and can be caused by douches, spermicides, some oral antibiotics, and menopause.
Men, on the other hand, may not deal with as many problems with this type of infection but can get them through conditions like benign prostatic hyperplasia, or enlarged prostate. This has a similar problem to the diaphragm in women, in that it can lead to keeping the bladder from voiding properly and cause bacteria to build up.
Antibiotics are a common method of treating these infections, either by a long-term, low-dose prescription, or taken preventatively before having sex or when you first feel symptoms. Pain-relieving medications may also be used, depending on the amount of pain the infection is causing.
Methods for preventing UTIs include urinating before and after sex, cleaning your genitals and anus after sex, drinking lots of water to flush out bacteria from your bladder, and using alternative birth control methods to diaphragms and spermicides.
Cotton underwear, loose clothing, avoiding scented body washes and douches, and wiping front to back in the bathroom are also ways to prevent dealing with this kind of infection.
Whether you’ve had one or several infections, it can be frustrating to cope with and we’re here to help. Make an appointment with the team at Michigan Avenue Primary Care today. Call our office or schedule your visit online anytime