Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are often classified as upper or lower tract infections. Cystitis, infection of the bladder, is an example of a common lower tract infection. Pyelonephritis is the most prevalent upper tract infection. If an infection moves to the kidneys, it can be life threatening. So it is advised that you take this very seriously and seek the medical diagnosis of a physician immediately if you believe you may have a UTI. Although a UTI may occur after Sexual Intercourse and it is often related to the mechanisms of intercourse in sexually active women, it is not sexually transmitted.
The site of a urinary tract infection may be in the kidneys (which filter blood to produce urine), the ureters (the tubes that carry urine to the bladder), the bladder or the urethra (the tube that leads to the outside opening).
The urinary system is normally sterile (bacteria-free). Because the outside opening of the urinary system (the meatus) is located near the vagina and the anus, bacteria that occur normally in those areas can enter the meatus and contaminate the environment. Since the urethra in females is very short, it is easy for bacteria to infect the bladder.
The symptoms of urinary tract infections vary from individual to individual. Common symptoms are a burning sensation when urinating, a feeling of not being able to empty your bladder thoroughly, a feeling of having to urinate immediately, getting up to urinate multiple times at night (if not a usual pattern), frequently needing to urinate in small amounts. Other symptoms may include lower back pain, lower abdominal pain, and cloudy, bloody or foul-smelling urine. Some women have no symptoms during the early stages of an infection.
The best form of medicine is prevention and by employing simple hygiene measures you can greatly decrease the likelihood of having a UTI. The following guidelines may help prevent the occurrence of urinary tract infections:
Always wipe from front to back after urinating and after a bowel movement to avoid contaminating the urethra with bacteria from the vaginal and rectal areas.
Urinate frequently during the day. Urinating allows the body to dispose of bacteria in the urine before an infection can develop.
Always urinate within ten minutes after intercourse if possible. Intercourse causes slight trauma to the urethra and allows bacteria to enter. Urinating helps flush these bacteria out. If this is not possible, drinking 10-12 ounces of water immediately after intercourse will cause you to urinate later and help flush the bacteria out.
Adequate lubrication during sex will decrease urethral irritation.
If you have Anal Intercourse or anal-finger contact, wash the penis, vulva, hands and/or dildo with soap and water prior to vaginal penetration. This will reduce the risk of introducing bowel bacteria into the vagina and urethra.
If Condoms are used during anal contact, be sure to change condoms before engaging in vaginal contact.
Drink at least eight glasses of liquids (preferably water) per day, to increase urination and help flush out bacteria.
Avoid coffee, tea, carbonated beverages and alcohol. These substances irritate the bladder and can cause a slight amount of bleeding to occur. When bleeding occurs, bacteria may enter the blood vessels more easily.
Do not allow the meatus (urethral opening) to remain moist for long periods. Moist environments are favourable for bacterial growth and mobility. Bubble baths, wet or tight clothing, use of nylon underwear, and spandex clothing, all promote moistness and irritation.
Clean around the meatus with water, daily, to remove secretions and decrease moisture.
Cranberry juice, cranberry pills, or dried cranberries help prevent cystitis by stopping bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall.
Medication for a UTI is prescribed according to an individual's specific needs, medical history, symptoms and urine test results. Treatment consists of a prescribed antibiotic. It is essential that you strictly follow your medication directions. Be sure to complete the medication - even if you no longer have symptoms of an infection. If you stop taking your medication before the prescribed time, bacteria may remain in your bladder and urethra and cause the infection to flare up again. Also, by doing this, you are actually allowing the harmful bacteria to become stronger and thus more resistant to antibiotic treatment. The next infection may be that much harder to remedy.
Occasionally, a bladder infection will recur directly following treatment, even if medications are taken exactly as prescribed. If this happens, you should contact your physician again for re-evaluation.