Everyone loves summer and all the things that come along with it- lazy days by the pool, tall glasses of strawberry lemonade, volleyball, ice cream, longer days with friends, and urinary tract infections…wait, what???
A recent study has found that urinary tract infections are significantly more common in the summertime for young women. So what exactly is a UTI and how do you know you have one? Even more importantly, what can you do to make sure a UTI doesn’t throw a wrench in your all of your fun summer activities?
So…what is it?
A UTI is an infection in the system inside your body that helps you pee. This urinary system includes your urethra (the little duct that carries your urine out), bladder, ureters, and kidneys and is responsible for removing waste from your body through your urine. When you get an infection in your urinary tract and it isn’t treated properly, the infection can move up the tract to the kidneys. When the infection reaches your kidneys, it can be very serious. Below is a picture of your urinary system so you can visualize how your kidneys, bladder, and urethra all work together:
How will I know if I have a Urinary Tract Infection?
You may be asking yourself, “Well, how do I know if I have a UTI?” According to the Mayo Clinic, some common symptoms many women notice are: a very strong urge to urinate, a burning sensation when urinating, passing small amounts of urine frequently, cloudy urine, red, pink, or cola colored urine, and/or pelvic pain. Many times when someone has a UTI, they also feel tired and like they are getting sick.
We know, we know, we hate UTIs too. But learning why you get them will be the biggest help in preventing them (and spoiler alert, none of these causes are uncleanliness, so don’t feel like you are dirty or unclean if you happen to be one of the many women who will get a UTI!)
Because a woman’s body is unique (and amazing!), their entire urinary system is inside their bodies unlike a man’s urinary system, which unfortunately makes it easier for bacteria to enter and stay way longer than welcome…hence the beginning of a UTI.
In the summer we spend more time in pools, hot tubs, the ocean, and are often wearing wet underwear or wet swimsuits. This moisture allows bacteria to multiply and increases the chances of the bacteria getting in our urinary tract system and causing an infection. This is why summertime UTIs are more common! So while you’re sunbathing lakeside after water-tubing, unwanted bacteria could be lingering a little longer than you’d like.
Dehydration is also a big contributing factor to UTIs. You’ve probably heard a thousand reasons why drinking water is so darn important- add this reason to the list! When you don’t drink enough, you won’t urinate enough to flush out bacteria in your body. So drink up and imagine the bacteria being flushed out because that’s exactly what’s happening. Cheapest. Cleanse. Ever.
Another cause of many UTIs is sex. As unromantic as it may sound, using the bathroom right after intercourse can prevent UTIs. You can even pour a glass of water down there 😉 soon after intercourse to help too.
How to avoid pesky Urinary Tract Infections
- Drink plenty of water to flush out bacteria (it also is super good for your complexion! And a healthy diet! And basically every part of your health).
- Always urinate and cleanse yourself after intercourse.
- Wipe front to back when urinating.
And as much as we want to stay in our wet swimsuit…
- Change into dry bottoms and then lounge in that beach chair as long as you want to.
It’s also good to remember that women who are pregnant or who have been pregnant are at a higher risk of developing a UTI. So take even greater care to follow these steps!
It’s important to always contact your doctor if you are having symptoms of a UTI. Your primary care physician or your OBGYN are both very capable of treating these. Your doctor will get a urine sample and test it, and if you do have a UTI, they will put you on a course of antibiotics. They can also give you meds to relieve the discomfort until your infection is gone. If you don’t have a physician, you should go to an urgent care center to be treated. If you are local to Elizabethtown, Hardin Memorial Urgent Care is a great option. Remember that this can quickly become serious. When left untreated, UTIs can lead to very serious infection.
With knowledge of how your (pretty amazing) body works and these simple tips, you can increase your chance of being UTI free this summer during all your favorite summer pastimes. You’re welcome 😘.