You get a urinary tract infection or UTI when bacteria enter the urethra, that part of the body that expels urine from the bladder. And when bacteria have entered, they can infect the system that carries urine out of the body: the kidneys, the bladder, and the tubes that connect them.
A bladder infection isn't as serious as a kidney one (which can require surgical treatment); in any case, once you feel a burning sensation when you pee or you pee blood, see your doctor.
Women are prone to getting UTIs. Some even get UTIs more than three times a year. Below are reasons that can make you more at risk than others:
1. You're sexually active. Women who are sexually active are more prone to getting UTI than women who aren't. Through sex, bacteria in the rectal area can easily go to the urethra, which leads to UTI. Chances of getting UTI also increases if you shift from anal sex to vaginal sex without a condom or without changing condoms.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't have sex, though. There's #2.
2. You don't pee before and after sex. While bacteria can easily go to the urethra from all the thrusting, peeing will flush them out. So don't forget to pee before and after sex!
3. You frequently hold your pee in. When you hold your pee, you keep the urine for a long time in your bladder. This can lead to growth of germs, and then an infection.
4. You don't drink enough water. If you don't drink enough water, you won't be peeing a lot. And when you don't urinate, you keep the bacteria in your system.
5. The birth control you use. If you use a diaphragm, you can be more at risk of UTI. If your birth control pills lower your estrogen levels significantly, there will be changes in your urinary tract that can make you more vulnerable to UTI. (Estrogen has a protective effect in the urinary tract.)
6. You have diabetes. If you have diabetes, your immune system is weaker, making you susceptible to infections. High blood sugar can also go to the urine and then encourage bacterial growth. Since diabetes can also cause nerve damage, you'll have a hard time fully emptying your bladder.
7. You have kidney stones. They obstruct the flow of urine, so urine not peed out can keep bacteria in your system and cause an infection.
8. You're pregnant. The uterus puts pressure on the ureters or the bladder, which can make it difficult for the urine to pass from the kidneys to the bladder then out of your body. If you're pregnant and you have UTI, see your doctor.
9. Menopause. Estrogen levels drop during menopause, which can then make it easier for bacteria to thrive in the urinary tract.
10. You wipe back to front. You're making the bacteria present in your anus and vagina come closer or have contact with your uretha! After you pee, wipe front to back instead.
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