Many women who get a urinary tract infection may experience it again at some point in their lives. In fact, one in five women will have a recurrent urinary tract infection.
The incidence of this infection may be two to three times in six months or at least three times a year. Men may also have recurrent urinary tract infections, but this is less common in men and is probably due to some form of urinary tract obstruction.
What causes a recurrence of a urinary tract infection in women?
Recurrent urinary tract infections in women can occur for many reasons. Here are four main reasons for this problem:
Anatomy or Genetics
Women are more prone to urinary tract infections due to their anatomy. Women’s urethra is shorter than men’s and is located near the openings of the vagina and anus. This form of placement increases the chance of bacteria spreading from both parts to the urinary tract. When the bacteria get into the urinary tract, they reach the bladder in a short time and cause an infection. In addition, some women have cells that are more naturally receptive to bacteria, which means that they are less likely to excrete bacteria through the normal functions of the body. In a 2009 study of more than 1,200 women with urinary tract infections and recurrent kidney infections, researchers concluded that there was a link between genetic receptors on cell receptors and an increased risk of bladder and kidney infections.
Habits of going to the bathroom
Because your urethra is very short and close to the vagina and anus, after defecation, you must wash and clean from front to back. This reduces the risk of passing any feces or bacteria from the anus to the ureters. Before putting on underwear again in the bathroom, make sure you are thoroughly clean and dry. Stools or bacteria can land on underwear and spread by moving underwear while walking, sitting, exercising, and so on.
Bacteria can be easily spread during sexual activity from the genitals, fingers, tongue or even sex toys. Sexual activity even transmits bacteria from your vagina or anus to your urethra. This is why doctors recommend that you urinate after sex to get the bacteria out of your urethra. Proper hygiene before and after sexual activity is also very helpful.
If you are prone to recurrent infections, contraceptive diaphragms, spermicides and condoms may increase your risk of getting a urinary tract infection. However, you can talk to your doctor about available solutions. For example, you can take low-dose antibiotics every six months or after sex to prevent it.
Read more: Urinary retention and urinary tract infection (UTI)
Other health items
Having a suppressed immune system or chronic health condition can expose you to recurrent infections, including urinary tract infections. Diabetes, as well as some autoimmune diseases, neurological diseases, and kidney or bladder stones, increase the risk of urinary tract infections. If you have had surgery on any part of your urinary tract, such as the urethra, bladder, ureter, and kidneys, scars or changes in anatomy may make you more susceptible to infection.
Remedy for recurrent urinary tract infections
If you have a frequent urinary tract infection, you should consult a urologist, but in addition to the above, you can do other simple steps to help prevent urinary tract infections, such as:
- Drink lots of water
- Wear cotton underwear
- No urinary retention
- Do not use scented products such as sprays, showers and powders that are not professionally tested and approved for women
Translator: Amir Mohammad Javaheri