A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) happens when any part of the urinary system gets infected. This can happen in a myriad of ways, especially in ones you don’t even realize. You can get a UTI from holding in your pee, wiping back to front, wearing small lingerie (such as a thong) and some medications, such as decongestants. Some of these are things we can’t avoid 24/7, and that’s OK. As long as you stay hydrated and pee frequently, you’re on the right track to protecting yourself from a UTI. However, there are plenty of steps to manage your UTI if you end up having one.
1. Drink water like your life depends on it.
I know everyone treats water like it’s a miracle worker, like somehow water can make your skin perfectly clear or automatically make you a health goddess. But, it’s kind of true. Water flushes out all of the bad bacteria in your bladder, which will get rid of your infection faster. The water also helps flush out the painful waste products in your urine and result in less pain when you have to pee.
2. Don’t drink coffee. Caffeine is not your friend in this case.
Caffeine can further irritate the bladder when you have a UTI, so do your best to avoid this drink during recovery. Caffeine is known to irritate the bladder and worsen symptoms. Try to also avoid teas or sodas, which can also make your already irritating infection that much worse.
3. Pee. A lot.
I know it feels like you have to pee literally every five minutes. Or even worse, after you just peed, you still feel like you have to pee. But listen to your body. Keep peeing as often as you possibly can. When you hold your pee, it gives the bacteria in your system that much more time to grow and wreak havoc on your bladder. Always remember to pee after sex because bacteria can be pushed deep into the urethra of both men and women during sexual activity. Flush it out, baby.
4. Try a pain reliever.
Brands such as AZO, can help relieve pain and the feeling of urgently having to pee all the time. But, it’s important to follow to dosage directions and to keep in mind that these types of medications are only made to help relieve your symptoms. They won’t cure your infection. A disclaimer with most of these medications, especially AZO, is that they will change the color of your pee. So, don’t freak out. There’s an orange dye in the medication that’s meant to help relieve irritation in your bladder and urinary tract.
5. Drink cranberry juice. (No, not the good kind.)
This step isn’t a new one; cranberry juice has been used as a natural remedy for preventing and treating bladder infections for a very long time. If you decide to try drinking cranberry juice, it’s recommended you drink pure cranberry juice. That means no sugar, and yes, that means it doesn’t taste very good. Brands such as Lakewoodare easy to find at your local supermarket. You want to drink as much as you can, as quickly as you can. I would try to finish the big bottle within a day or two. Cranberry juice also helps to improve the odor down there, so you can use it whenever your pH balance is off. Alternatively, there are cranberry juice pills you can take, but I personally have never used these. It’s whatever works best for you.
6. Bust out the sweatpants.
This is the time to be your most unapologetically comfy and free self. Wear loose clothes and cotton underwear in order to help reduce the growth of bacteria. Tight clothes, such as tight jeans, help the bacteria grow. Bacteria thrive in warm and moist environments (I know, you never wanted to think of your vagina that way). Swap out the mom jeans for some skirts or flowy pants. You’ll be comfy, and your vagina will thank you. Win, win.
7. Go to your doctor and get antibiotics.
Depending on how severe your UTI is, you may have to go to the doctor. I would see how you feel after the second day that your symptoms persist. Your doctor can prescribe you antibiotics, such as Macrobid, that will help cure your infection quickly. But, make sure to rest and take care of your body at this time. Your immune system will be down, and you can easily catch another illness while recovering. Additionally, keep in mind that these types of antibiotics could lessen the effectiveness of your birth control. You may want to have a backup method during this time. You can easily set up an appointment with UF Health or walk-in to the Infirmary. The staff will make sure you’re seen.
Having a UTI is nothing to be embarrassed about — it happens to many of us. According to WebMD, experts state 1 in 2 women get a UTI in their lifetime (and in many cases, they get more than one). UTIs are easily treated, but make sure to take care of it by talking with your doctor. The last thing you want is for your infection to spread further into your kidneys or any of your other bodily systems. Follow these steps, and you’ll be back to your best healthy-self in no time.