Did you know that urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in women and that it is estimated one in every 5 women will have at least one UTI during their lifetime? A urinary tract infection affects the entire urinary tract, including the kidneys, bladder, and urethra. UTIs occur when bacteria enters the urethra and multiplies through the urinary tract. In fact, the reason why UTIs are so common in women is due to the fact that women have a shorter urethra than men, which makes it easier for bacteria to cause an infection in the bladder or kidneys. Since UTIs are one of the most common problems a woman may have to deal with, it is important to know a little about them so you can prevent, recognize, and seek treatment for a UTI. Unfortunately, this can be easier said than done due to all the myths about UTIs. Here are some of the most common UTI myths to be aware of:
UTIs are Caused by Poor Hygiene
This is a fairly common myth that can actually do more harm than good. For starters, UTIs can occur even if a woman practices good hygiene. However, trying to be too clean down there can lead to harsh soaps killing off the body’s natural bacteria. This natural bacteria normally prevents harmful bacteria from spreading, so eliminating it can increase the chances of developing a UTI. When it comes to hygiene, washing with water and wiping front to back is generally enough to stay clean.
Cranberry Juice is a Cure for a UTI
This is another extremely common myth surrounding UTIs. While it is true that cranberry juice may be able to prevent infections by producing acidic urine and making it harder for bacteria to stick to the bladder, there is no research that confirms cranberry juice alone can cure a UTI. Nevertheless, drinking plenty of cranberry juice with a UTI can still be beneficial because it keeps you hydrated and helps to flush out bacteria.
UTIs Will Just Go Away Eventually
In some cases, a UTI may simply resolve itself. However, other cases can travel up to your kidneys and cause a kidney infection, which can be serious. For this reason, you should always visit your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of a UTI such as the frequent urge to urinate, pain while urinating, blood in the urine, aching or pressure in the lower abdomen, or urine with a strong smell. Your doctor will perform a urine test to determine the type of antibiotic needed to eliminate your infection.
If You Use Tampons, You Are at an Increased Risk
Using tampons does not actually increase your risk of developing a UTI. In fact, tampons can actually help to prevent a UTI. This is because they are designed to absorb moisture and keep the external area as dry as possible. Since bacteria thrive in moist environments, tampons actually manage bacterial populations by keeping the area dry.
A urinary tract infection(UTI) and a sexually transmitted infection(STI) are two different types of infections. For starters, a UTI occurs as a result of the body’s own natural bacteria entering the urethra and is not contagious. They also don’t require any type of sexual activity to occur. A STI, on the other hand, can only occur if it is spread to you by another person during sexual activities and will continue to be contagious.
Dr. Gurdian is Board Certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and is an active member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the North American Menopause Society. She is currently on staff at the Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center’s (SGMC). Dr Gurdian has a particular interest in high risk OB, menopause and complex health care issues.