Body & Fitness

15 surprising facts about urinary tract infections

If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection, you’ll know how painful they can be.
15 facts about urinary tract infections

If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection (UTIs), you’ll know how painful they can be. But did you also know that pregnancy, menopause and certain types of birth control can make them worse?

1. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) may become more common in women who have been through menopause because the lack of oestrogen causes changes in the urinary tract, making it more vulnerable to infection.

2. Pregnancy can increase the risk of UTIs because you produce more of the hormone progesterone, which relaxes muscles in the bladder and ureters (the tubes that link the bladder and kidneys). When these are relaxed, you have a greater chance of developing an infection.

3. Using diaphragms as birth control can also raise the risk of a UTI.

4. Diabetes and other diseases that affect the immune system’s ability to work properly can increase the risk of UTIs.

5. Left untreated, a UTI can lead to an infection that can cause permanent damage to the kidneys.

6. Pregnant women who get a UTI have an increased chance of having a premature baby or one that is a low birth weight.

7. If you’ve got a UTI, you should avoid drinks that can irritate the bladder, such as citrus juices, coffee, alcohol and other drinks containing caffeine.

8. Drinking plenty of water can help to prevent UTIs because it dilutes your urine and helps to flush out bacteria.

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9. Remember to wipe from front to back after going to the toilet to avoid bacteria from the rectum getting into the urethra.

10. Go to the loo after having sex. If bacteria has got into the urethra during sex – which is a common cause of UTIs – emptying your bladder will help to prevent an infection. Drinking water before sex can make it easier to flush out your bladder afterwards.

11. Cranberry juice is being investigated as a way of preventing UTIs because cranberries contain sulfuric acid, which helps to stop bacteria from sticking to the wall of the bladder.

12. Women who don’t drink many fluids are more likely to get UTIs because they urinate less frequently and any bacteria that have got into the bladder have more time to multiply and cause an infection.

13. Pantyhose and tight trousers can contribute to UTIs because they may irritate tissues, trap heat and promote bacterial growth.

14. If you get frequent UTIs, your doctor may want to look into whether you have an anatomical problem. Some women are born with abnormalities that mean urine doesn’t leave the body properly or else it backs up in the urethra. This can lead to infections.

15. Don’t “hold on”. Empty your bladder as soon as you feel the need.

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