Illustration by Shelby Gubba
With the rising temperature we inevitably see a rise in the number of patients experiencing urinary tract infection symptoms: burning with urination, the urge to urinate more often, the uncomfortable sensation of not completely emptying the bladder, pressure or cramps in the lower abdomen during urination…sound familiar?
What is a UTI?
There are two kinds of UTIs. Cystitis is an infection of the bladder, the part of the body that stores urine after it is made. Bacteria that live in the vagina, genital and anal areas may enter the urethra, travel to the bladder, and cause cystitis. Urethritis is an infection of the urethra, the part of the body that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body.
Why the increase in UTIs during the summer?
It’s hot! We’re thirsty, peeing less often, and our sweaty parts are inviting bacteria to multiply. It’s like they are throwing a big party at the E. Coli Hotel & Resort.
What can you do?
1) Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water helps keep your urinary tract flushed and healthy — summer time heat can keep us dehydrated if we don’t drink enough H20. Drink up (and no, alcohol doesn’t count!).
2) Stay Dry
Wear cotton underwear whenever possible and change out of wet swimsuits after your trip to the beach. Avoid wearing thongs. They can help bring bacteria from the anal area to your urethral opening. Don’t douche or use anti-bacterial soaps. Your vagina cleans itself. Let it keep the good bacteria and kick out the bad stuff on its own.
3) Do It Right
Urinate before and after sex. After using the restroom, always wipe front to back. And don’t hold your pee! When you need to go – GO. For women who have frequent UTIs, drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry pills may help.
Most importantly, if you do experience symptoms of a UTI, seek treatment as soon as possible. An untreated infection may move up to the kidney and cause a more serious infection. Hopefully these tips will help you have a happy and healthy summer season!
– Shelby @Planned Parenthood