What Causes and Prevents UTIs in Women? Myths and Truths.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) — one of the most commonly discussed as well as one of the most misunderstood women’s health issues. It is estimated that about 40 percent of women have experienced a UTI at least once in their lifetime, yet the internet is still filled with misinformation on this form of infection. That’s why we are here to not only diagnose and treat UTIs in our Houston, Texas OB/GYN practice, but we are also here to set the record straight on why they occur, how to treat them and how to prevent them.

Read on to learn more about the myths and truths surrounding the causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment of UTIs in women. 

Myths and Truths of UTIs

Causes

When the urinary tract is not able to defend against bacteria entering through the urethra, a woman will suffer from a UTI if that bacteria becomes an infection. When pressure is placed on a woman’s urethra, bacteria has an easier time entering the urinary tract and is more likely to become an infection if prevention practices don’t occur.

There are many factors that can result in the entrance of bacteria into the urinary tract and subsequently cause a UTI in women, but the most common include:

  • Shorter urethra (women have a shorter urethra than men, which is why they get UTIs at a much higher rate than men).
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Diaphragm usage

Symptoms

While you should come in as soon as you think you may have a UTI, regardless of the symptoms, it’s still important to know what to keep an eye on when it comes to a possible UTI.

Common UTI symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Frequent urination
  • Burning urination
  • Cloudy urine
  • Urine with a strong odor
  • Pelvic pain

Prevention

The good news is that prevention is possible with UTIs. The bad news is prevention of UTIs is where the myths are most frequent. While many of the prevention methods (drinking cranberry juice)  you have heard may have some merit, we want to share your most likely defense against UTIs so you can avoid even larger complications. 

  • Drink plenty of water; this will help flush out bacteria
  • Urinate following sexual intercourse
  • Take daily cranberry supplements (not the sugar-laden juice)
  • Wipe front to back
  • Avoid irritating feminine products (feel free to consult with us on what you are using and if it may be causing issues)

Treatment

Prevention has a fairly strong success rate in helping patients avoid UTIs, but it doesn’t always work. While UTIs are common, they can also have serious consequences if not treated properly and quickly. Because if untreated or detected too late, a UTI can lead to severe kidney issues. If you suspect you have a UTI, please visit us as soon as possible so we can analyze a urine sample. 

If our tests determine you have a UTI, we will prescribe antibiotics. Which antibiotics we prescribe and how long we will ask you to take them will vary on a case-by-case basis.

Also, if you are following any preventative measures we suggest and you are still experiencing recurrent UTIs, we may also prescribe low-dose antibiotics for you to take for a longer period of time.

As with any women’s health issue, please don’t hesitate to call us with any questions or concerns surrounding UTIs.

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