by Caroline Fenker, OTD, OTR/L
Haley, 36, had UTIs at least twice a year that caused excruciating pain and a scalding sensation to pee, not to mention halting her sex life.
Barbara, 78, had been hospitalized for UTIs three times after her hip surgery.
Mary, 65, had a urinary tract infection (UTI) that made her feel like she needed to urinate often, even for only a few drops.
Natalie, 24, was pregnant and had blood in her urine from a UTI.
Women are at greater risk of developing a UTI than men. Without skilled therapy intervention UTIs often persist.
Between 40%-60% of women will have a UTI at least once in their lifetime [source]. While sexual activity, age, pregnancy, diabetes, and more can increase risk for UTI, how women perform their activities of daily living will also increase risk. This means you can take CONTROL! of UTIs.
But first, let’s look at six reasons you may be getting UTIs.
If the bladder does not completely empty during urination, the remaining urine can become a breeding ground for bacteria. There are many causes of incomplete urination including tight pelvic floor muscles, constipation, prolapse, and more. Talk to a healthcare provider if you experience incomplete urination.
Bladder leakage may also be a sign that the bladder cannot get completely empty or that the pelvic floor muscles are weak and cannot hold back urine. Leaked urine may irritate the skin and can create a warm, moist environment prone to bacteria growth. If you use incontinence products, be sure to change these regularly to keep the perineal region dry.
Bacteria found in stool is the most common cause of UTIs. When bowels accidentally leak, the bacteria are more likely to reach your urethra and cause a UTI. Weak pelvic floor muscles may lead to accidental bowel leakage or smearing of stool when wiping after urinating.
It is important to wash the vulva or perineal area daily with clean water. Some people may shower less frequently or may opt to take a bath or sponge bathe. While this is not your fault, it may make you more prone to UTIs. If you are able to shower more frequently, be sure to wash the vulva thoroughly with clean water. If you are unable to shower more frequently, a bidet or peri-bottle can be used to wash the perineal area daily.
All genitals should be washed before sexual activity. Urinating immediately before and after sexual activity can flush out any bacteria that may have been introduced to the urethra during sex. Genitals, fingers, or toys which are used for anal sex should be washed immediately after sex and not used elsewhere to prevent spread of bacteria. Talk to your healthcare provider if you experience irritation or vaginal dryness as this could increase your risk for infection.
The types of clothes you are wearing may make you more susceptible to infection. Thong underwear acts as a “livewire” for E. coli bacteria growth. Tight-fitting clothing, nylon, or other synthetic fabrics can promote a warm, moist environment where bacteria like to grow. Opt for cotton or other natural fibers for undergarments.
You’re In CONTROL! specializes in helping women take CONTROL! of UTIs. A pelvic floor therapy evaluation can determine what pelvic floor dysfunctions or lifestyle factors are contributing to frequent UTIs.
If you struggle with UTIs, talk with your provider about therapy and make an appointment today. You can Take CONTROL! of UTIs and feel like a natural woman again!
Caroline Fenker, OTD, OTR/L, is a recent graduate of Huntington University. She completed her doctoral capstone at You’re In CONTROL! during the spring of 2022 and has devoted her career to moving women to take control of their bodies.