We’ve all been there. Just yesterday you noticed your urine is a bit cloudy, and you’ve been peeing a little more frequently. Then bam, that telltale burning sensation kicks in when you urinate. Oh no, not another UTI!
You’ve been following your doctor’s instructions and even finished your medicine like you were supposed to. Now what? Why do you keep getting UTIs?
Don’t panic, says the skilled team of health professionals at Formé Medical Center in White Plains, New York. Repeat UTIs aren’t necessarily uncommon. While it’s definitely inconvenient and literally a pain, fortunately it’s usually not something serious to worry about.
Before we discuss why frequent UTIs happen, let’s first unpack what a UTI is. UTI is short for urinary tract infection. As its name suggests, a urinary tract infection is a localized infection, which usually affects the lower urinary tract, specifically the urethra and bladder. E. coli or other bacteria cause UTIs.
Although both women and men can get urinary tract infections, it’s much more common among women. In fact, about 50-60% of women will get a UTI sometime during their lifetime.
Unfortunately about 1 in 4, or 25%, of women who experience UTIs will suffer from repeat infections. Generally a UTI is considered to be a chronic or recurring problem if you have 3-4 infections in a year’s time.
Although definitely uncomfortable, UTIs aren’t generally serious medical conditions; however, getting treatment is essential to getting rid of the bacteria, so it doesn’t spread to other parts of your body like your kidneys.
Your provider treats a urinary tract infection by prescribing an antibiotic. The type of drug and how long you take it is linked to the type of bacteria that triggered the issue and your overall health. As is the case with other medical issues, following doctor’s orders and taking your medication as directed is essential.
Numerous risk factors
If you suffer from repeat UTIs, you know how frustrating it can be. Just when you start to feel like yourself again, another infection begins and you’re back on the antibiotics roller coaster. You did everything your doctor told you, to no avail. You just want to scream, “Why me?” There are several factors that contribute to repeat UTIs.
The likelihood of getting a UTI and repeat infections increases with age. In fact, women 65 and older are twice as likely to get a UTI than the general female population. For post-menopausal women, the mitigating factor connected to risk includes pH changes in the vagina, which make older women more vulnerable to infection.
The layout of a woman’s body in and of itself makes a woman more prone to getting UTIs than a man. Specifically, a woman’s urethra is closer to the anus and shorter in size than a man’s urethra, giving bacteria a quicker path to her bladder.
Similarly related to the anatomy of a woman’s body, the shorter urethra also happens to be in close proximity to the vagina, making the actual mechanics of sexual intercourse a perfect storm for bacteria to spread from the urethra and anus into the bladder.
Types of birth control
Another factor that can make UTIs more likely are birth control options like diaphragms. It’s not the actual diaphragm that makes a woman more prone to developing a UTI, but the spermicides typically used with it. A spermicide not only changes the pH of your vagina, but also neutralizes the protective bacteria in your vagina.
New habits can reduce risk
Although it may not be possible to eliminate every future UTI, there are many new habits that can help reduce your risk of developing a UTI. One easy thing which is also great for your overall health, is to drink plenty of water.
Staying hydrated has its own perks, but it will also accomplish two important things when it comes to UTIs — it dilutes your urine and makes you urinate more often. This can help flush bacteria from your lower urinary tract way before it becomes a problem.
Also, remembering to wipe from front to back after a bowel movement or urinating keeps the pathway between your anus, vagina, and urethra clean and clear and less likely to harbor bacteria. Emptying your bladder after sexual intercourse can also be helpful.
If you suffer from urinary tract infections and want to learn how to minimize future infections, contact Formé Medical Center. Call our office or request an appointment online today.