If you’ve ever suffered from a UTI (urinary tract infection), then you know how brutal they can be. One minute it feels like you have to pee, but nothing comes out. The next, you’re in bed, doubled over from the burning pain. They can be extremely sneaky, painful, and in some cases, debilitating. So how do you avoid them? In this article, I will talk about my experience with chronic UTIs and the tools that I have learned that help me manage them so I can live a happier and healthier life.
Before I continue, I would like to say that I am not a doctor. This article is not the same as medical advice from a healthcare provider. If you are suffering from chronic UTIs, I recommend talking to a healthcare professional. The tools that I outline here have been greatly helpful for me but might not work for everyone. Additionally, always make sure to talk with your doctor before using any supplements.
What is a UTI?
A UTI is just that, an infection in your urinary tract. The urinary tract includes your urethra (the opening where you pee from), bladder, and kidneys. Symptoms of a UTI can include pain with urination, frequency of urination, blood in the urine, pelvic pain, pain during sex, and more. People get UTIs for different reasons but being sexually active and having female anatomy both increase your risk of getting one.
When I first moved away from home to go to college, I experienced my first UTI. My symptoms were mainly a slight burning when I peed and some pelvic discomfort, but nothing too terrible. After a round of antibiotics, I thought that I was in the clear, which is why I was surprised and upset when I contracted another UTI a couple of months later. This began a cycle of UTIs and antibiotics that lasted for the next few years of my life.
It would be an understatement to say I was miserable. I also felt extremely discouraged because no matter what I did, I kept getting UTIs. It was then that I decided to get serious about my urinary tract health. I did a lot of research, reading advice from other women that had similar experiences. It felt really good to know that I wasn’t alone. Beyond simply feeling camaraderie, I also learned a lot about UTIs and tips on how to prevent them. The tools that I outline below are the ones that have helped me the most.
Pee after sex
I wish that I had been told this when I was younger because peeing right after sex is so important for urinary tract health. During sexual intercourse, bacteria are often pushed up inside the urethra. If this bacteria is not flushed from your system quickly, it can lead to things like UTIs. Some of us are more prone to getting UTIs, those with shorter urethras, for example. By peeing after sex, you are helping your body flush out the bacteria, which is a simple way to help prevent infection.
Stay properly hydrated
Drinking water can be hard to remember sometimes. I’ve definitely gone more than half a day without drinking any fluids and then realized that I hadn’t peed yet. Hydration is a key component in UTI prevention. It is important to be continuously flushing bacteria out of your system, even when you aren’t having sex. Drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day both dilutes your urine and increases urination frequency, which is good for preventing UTIs.
Never hold your pee
I used to hold my pee all the time. In fact, I would pride myself on being able to go hours without needing to use the bathroom. However, once I started getting chronic UTIs, I learned that holding your pee is very bad for urinary tract health. When you hold your pee, bacteria in your urinary tract sits there for longer, which gives it more time to multiply. This can lead to an increased risk of contracting a UTI.
Choose the right underwear
It took me a while, but I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I can no longer wear thongs or synthetic underwear. It is important to let your vaginal area breathe. This is because bacteria like to grow in damp conditions, and synthetic fabrics don’t allow for proper airflow. Furthermore, thongs are basically a line right from your anus to your vagina, making it very easy for bacteria to travel. If you struggle with recurrent UTIs or yeast infections, I recommend staying away from throngs and switching to cotton underwear, especially when you are sleeping. Some doctors even recommend not wearing any underwear when you sleep.
The power of D-Mannose
If you suffer from chronic UTIs and haven’t heard of D-Mannose, I suggest you get acquainted. This supplement has been a literal miracle for me, and since I started taking it daily, I have not had a UTI. So what is it? D-mannose is a simple sugar that is found in fruits like peaches, apples, and oranges.
D-Mannose has been shown to stop bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. This makes it easier for the body to get rid of bacteria through urination. Furthermore, research shows that it is safe to take regularly. If you are interested in learning more about dosage and side effects, I suggest looking at this page. I personally like taking D-mannose in capsule form instead of drinking the powder, mainly because it is more convenient.
Believe me. I know just how frustrating chronic UTIs can be. There was a point in my life where I was resigned to the idea that I would be getting one every few months. Now, not having had one for almost a year, I feel like I am finally in control of my urinary tract health. If you are struggling with UTIs, my main advice for you is not to give up. I recommend reaching out to your healthcare provider, doing your own research, and trying out some of the tools that I have talked about in this article. UTIs are the worst, but there is help out there and tangible ways to help manage them.