words Alexa Wang
If you’re currently struggling with recurring UTIs, better known as urinary tract infections, you’re not alone.
According to a study published by Medscape, a leading online global destination for physicians and other healthcare professionals around the world, UTIs are quite common among women between the ages of 20 and 40. According to the study, 25% to 40% of women between the ages of 20 and 40 have had at least one UTI in their lifetime.
UTIs account for more than six million physician visits each year in America, according to the same study. The annual healthcare cost associated with treating UTIs is more than $1.6 billion, according to a separate study published by the National Institutes of Health.
While these statistics are alarming, there is some good news worth-noting. It is very possible to treat UTIs and potentially prevent UTIs from occurring in the first place.
What causes UTIs in women?
More often than not, urinary tract infections are a byproduct of bacteria that has made its way into the urinary tract and has advanced to the urethra, before starting to multiply in the bladder.
In most cases, the urinary system can prevent most bacteria from infiltrating the urinary tract. However, these defenses are prone to failure. When this happens, it can cause a severe urinary tract infection, which can impact the kidneys, bladder, urethra, or a combination of the three.
Symptoms of UTIs in women
Given that urinary tract infections can impact different parts of the urinary system, these symptoms and their severity can vary. To further put this into context, let’s take a look at each list of symptoms, according to the part of the urinary system that is infected:
- Back pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Discomfort in the lower abdomen
- Pelvic pressure
- Painful urination
- Bloody urine
- Vaginal discharge and odor
- Burning sensation while urinating
Who is most likely to develop a urinary tract infection (UTI)?
Along with age, multiple factors can increase a woman’s chances of developing a UTI, including the following:
Studies show that women who are very sexually-active are at a disproportionately higher risk of developing a UTI than women who are either less sexually active or abstinent.
Despite being an excellent way to avoid unplanned pregnancies, taking birth control can cause UTIs, according to several studies. This is especially true for women who use either spermicidal agents or diaphragms, as their birth control of choice.
Those women who are sexually active and suffering from recurring UTIs are encouraged to speak with a physician about alternative birth control methods.
Along with many of the other side effects that come with entering menopause, urinary tract infections are also common for most women. This increased susceptibility to infection has a lot to do with a decline in estrogen production.
Because women have a much shorter urethra than men, female bodies are more vulnerable to contracting UTIs, as bacteria have to travel much shorter distances before reaching the bladder where they can multiply.
Treating Urinary Tract Infections
Having discussed what causes UTIs and the symptoms associated with them, let’s now turn our attention toward treatment and prevention. For many women, cranberry supplements and even cranberry juice have both been shown to help resolve UTI-related symptoms, especially burning urination.
Additionally, products that flush out the urinary tract, available through Uqora, can alleviate most UTI-related symptoms. Of course, effective at-home treatments to combat urinary tract infections and their symptoms do not end there. The following can also provide some much-needed relief:
Over-the-counter pain relievers
To help alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with a UTI, over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin and Ibuprofen, can help. Furthermore, these relatively inexpensive medications do an excellent job when it comes to easing abdominal cramps and back pain, both symptoms that are related to these types of infections.
A great way to wash bacteria out of the urinary system is by drinking plenty of water and urinating frequently.
While UTIs can naturally resolve and clear-up on their own, this is not the case for everyone. That said, if your symptoms worsen or persist, it would be a good idea to schedule an appointment with a physician who can prescribe a course of antibiotics, which not only clears up the infection but also helps in easing symptoms of pain or discomfort.
How to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
When it comes to UTIs, an ounce of prevention is undoubtedly worth a pound of cure. With that, here are a few things that women can do to lower their chance of developing these irritating and often painful infections:
Avoid using irritation-causing feminine hygiene products
Studies show that certain sprays, douches, and powders can trigger UTIs when applied to the genital area–especially those that are scented.
Urinating immediately after sexual activity
It is a good idea for women to promptly urinate after engaging in sexual intercourse, as not doing so can cause bacteria to move deeper into the urethra and, ultimately, into the bladder.
Along with avoiding irritation-causing feminine hygiene products and urinating after sex, wiping from front to back after defecating or urinating can go a long way toward minimizing the risk of developing a UTI.
UTIs are, unfortunately, quite common among women. However, there are a number of preventative measures you can take to minimize your risk of contracting an infection and expedite your healing process.