Men might have prostate problems, but we women have our own urinary issues to contend with – including urinary infections. Throughout our lives, our short urethra gives the bacteria. In a women of reproductive age, estrogen prevents harmful bacteria from colonizing the vagina, keeps the vaginal pH levels low (which also discourages a bacterial habitation), and promotes the growth of “friendly” bacteria – the kind that protect against UTIs.
Signs of a UTI
if you’ve been having these symptoms, see a health care provider for an evaluation and treatment:
- Frequent need to urinate
- Pain or burning during urination
- Abdominal pain
- Fever and back pain (signs that the infection has spread to the kidneys)
To target the cause of your UTI – bacteria – your health care provider will put you on antibiotics for three to seven days.
If your UTIs keep returning, your doctor needs to determine why. Sometimes, anatomic problems, such as a blockage in the urinary tract, can be the cause – and surgery may be needed to treat it. Often, women inherit a condition that allows bacteria to stick more easily to the lining of their urinary system. If you have this condition, you may need to stay on a low close of antibiotics long-term.
Avoiding an infection
When it comes to preventing UTIs, some approaches are legitimate , while others are mere urban legend. Avoiding bubble baths won’t do much to prevent infections. Having sex can be a problem, because it pushes bacteria from the vagina to the opening of the urethra.
Aa couple of methods that are sometimes touted for UTI prevention are promising, but still unproven – including vaginal estrogen. Some studies find it to be effective, while others are less optimistic. Findings on cranberries and probiotics are also mixed. There is some evidence these substances may help prevent UTIs by keeping bacteria from colonizing the vagina, but it’s not clear how much of them you’d need to take to see a benefit. And you’ll want to avoid drinking cranberry juice if it upsets your stomach, you’re taking the blood-thinning medicine warfarin (Coumadin), or you’re watching your calories.