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FunTimes Magazine

The Link Between UTIs and Sex: Causes and How to Prevent Them

Dec 20, 2021 11:00AM ● By Boitumelo Masihleho

Although November is Bladder Health Month, being conscious about the health of your bladder and taking the steps to keep it and your urinary system healthy should be something you do all year round. Two common health problems affecting the bladder are urinary incontinence and overactive bladder (OAB). Pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) aren’t the only consequences of having sex. For some women, a urinary tract infection (UTI) can also be a result. Whether you find yourself sitting on the toilet and feeling like the pee just wants to keep coming or you can't quite place that funky smell, a UTI usually likes to make itself known.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection that affects your urinary system, including your urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys. Although a UTI can affect any part of your urinary system, it most often causes an infection in your bladder. This is known as cystitis. There are a couple of factors that place a person at risk of developing a chronic UTI include:

  • Bowel incontinence

  • Diabetes

  • Enlarged prostate

  • Kidney stones

  • Pelvic prolapse

  • Obesity

  • Premenopause and postmenopause

A UTI can often be recognized by symptoms involving the lower urinary tract, including:

  •  The persistent urge to urinate

  • Pain or a burning sensation while urinating

  • Frequent urination, albeit with smaller volumes

  • Cloudy urine

  • Strong-smelling urine

  • Blood in urine

  • Pain in the central lower abdomen, just above the pubic bone

  • Odorless vaginal discharge in females

  • White, frothy urethral discharge in males

The urethra is the tube through which urine exits the body from the bladder. In women, this tube is short, making it quicker and easier for bacteria to enter the opening and infiltrate the bladder. The bacteria that cause a UTI lives in the area around the anus and sex can shift bacteria toward the front. From there, it’s just a short hop up the urethra into the bladder, where it can multiply and cause a UTI. Although men have a lower risk for getting a UTI, especially after sex, it can still happen. In general, it is recommended that you avoid having intercourse when you have an active urinary tract infection. When you get an antibiotic prescription, ask your doctor when the right time to resume sexual activity would be.


Bladder health tips

While bladder health is not often top of mind, there are ways to keep your bladder healthier year-round. Wash your hands before and after sex, and try not to touch your genitals after you touch your or your partner's anus. The rectum, anus, and groin have a high density of bacteria that can easily be transferred to the urethra. Wash your foreskin before and after sex if you are uncircumcised, and use condoms regularly. Consider a new form of birth control. If you’re prone to UTIs, you may want to avoid using a diaphragm or spermicide as your form of pregnancy prevention. These can introduce bacteria into the area and can kill off healthy bacteria that keep the problem germs in check.

Strive to drink six to eight cups of water each day and lower the amount of caffeine and alcohol you drink - these may upset your bladder, as these can heighten bladder activity and lead to leakage. Use good bathroom habits such as taking your time when on the toilet so that your bladder can empty - if you rush, and do not empty your bladder fully, over time, you could get a bladder infection. It’s very normal to go to the bathroom 4 to 8 times a day and no more than twice a night.

Some foods can worsen incontinence. Skip foods like chocolate (also a source of caffeine), as well as spicy or acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits. Drinking cranberry juice daily is sometimes recommended for persons with a chronic UTI. Cranberries contain compounds such as phenolic acids and flavonoids, which may help treat and prevent UTIs. These compounds may help interfere with the ability of bacteria to stick to the lining of the urinary tract, reduce inflammation and modulate gut bacteria. It is of great value to stop smoking for your bladder health as using tobacco is a major cause of bladder cancer Cigarette smokers are two to three times more likely to be told they have bladder cancer than non-smokers.


Everyday Health

Very Well Health

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Byram Healthcare

 Boitumelo Masihleho is a South African digital content creator. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes University in Journalism and Media Studies and Politics and International Studies. She's an experienced multimedia journalist who is committed to writing balanced, informative and interesting stories on a number of topics. Boitumelo has her own YouTube channel where she shares her love for affordable beauty and lifestyle content. 

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