UTIs, are more common in women than in men, but men and women can also cause them.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can appear to come out of nowhere. It’s all going well when you go about your business. One minute you feel normal; the next, you start to experience all the UTI symptoms (think burning sensations when you pee, constant need to use the bathroom, and some blood on your toilet paper).
It’s not fun. However, understanding the causes of a UTI can help you understand your body’s response and what you can do about it. Let’s look closer at the causes of a UTI and how germs get there.
How can you get a UTI?
To understand the basics of what causes a UTI, you don’t have to be a biology professor. It’s quite simple.
“You get a UTI when bacteria from the vaginal and anal area enter into the urethra and bladder, and set up a bacterial colony, typically on the surface of the bladder,” explains Patricia A. Wallace, MD, a gynaecologist and urologist at Providence Mission Hospital in Southern California.
This means that some guests can disrupt the normal party of healthy bacteria in your bladder and cause problems.
Escherichia Coli is likely to be the cause of your UTI. Yes, it’s the same. coli that has contaminated lots of salad greens in recent years.) It lives in your bowel normally, but if it gets into your urinary tract, you could be on the fast track to getting a UTI.
According to the University of California San Francisco, E. coli is responsible for up to 90% of all UTIs. It’s not the only foreign intruder that can cause problems with your bladder or urinary tract. According to the Merck Manual, UTIs can also come from bacteria like streptococci, klebsiella, and proteus mirabilis, and sometimes even fungi.
Although it may seem like an insignificant detail (after all, it is hard to think of anything else when you feel like you’re peeing on fire), it can significantly impact your treatment. To determine the cause of the infection, your doctor will send a sample from your urine to a laboratory. They will then prescribe the appropriate medications. Usually, the pain is gone within a few days.
How can you get a UTI in your upper tract?
Untreated UTIs can lead to an infection of the upper urinary tract. An upper UTI is when the bacteria in your bladder makes its home in your bladder and travels up to your ureters.
You should immediately seek medical attention if this happens. This type of UTI could lead to kidney damage or even life-threatening conditions called sepsis.
In addition to the painful urination and cloudy or bloody pee many people have with a lower UTI, look out for upper UTI symptoms, such as:
- Pain in your back, side, or groin
How do women vs men get UTIs?
Men, like women, also have urethras or bladders that are susceptible to bacterial infection. Yet, UTIs happen 30 times more often in women than men. Why is this?
You can blame anatomy for that one, says Jennifer A. Linehan, MD, a urologist and associate professor of urologic oncology at the Saint John’s Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
She says that the urethra in women is shorter than in men.
A woman’s urethra is usually no more than 1.5 inches long (roughly the length of the first two joints of your index finger). The urethra of a man is 7 to 8 inches long, which is almost as long as a straw. This means bacteria must travel much further to infect a man’s bladder or other parts of his urinary system. They could also get flushed out with urine before they have the chance to form a colony.
It is important to know where the urethral opening is located. This will affect how UTIs are transmitted from a woman to a male. It’s located between the labia and the vaginal opening for women. This is close to the anus, where you might find E. coli. It’s unlikely that the bacteria will come into contact with a man’s urine because it is located on the tip side of his penis, far from the anus.
Despite all this, it is still possible for men to get UTIs. However, it is less likely.
UTIs: Common Causes
There are already a lot of bacteria in your bladder. That’s a good thing. They keep you healthy and your life normal. How can things turn around?
Here are some of the ways that you can get a UTI.
- Sex: For a variety of reasons, a UTI can be caused by performing the deed. Dr Wallace says that the main trigger for UTIs in young females is sexual intercourse. Sometimes, stool contamination can occur in this area. In other words, you can accidentally transfer poop particles to your urethra if you get frisky. People who are prone to UTIs swear that they can prevent them by going out after having sex.
- According to the National Institutes of Health, your birth control can increase your risk of developing a UTI. Diaphragms can slow the flow of your urine, and spermicides may irritate your skin. These are two situations that bacteria love.
- Restoring the front: Another reason to get a UTI is not properly cleaning your hands. Wiping your skin can spread bacteria. Dr Wallace says that you should wipe from the front to the back.
- Kidney stones these hard deposits can cause a UTI. Dr Linehan says that bacteria can colonize kidney stones in some patients. The infection can be treated with antibiotics. However, the stone can remain a safe harbour. The bacteria on the stone will slowly grow and become extinct once the infection has been treated. Kidney stones can also cause us if they block your bladder. This makes it hard to completely release your urine, leading to a breeding ground of bacteria.
- You can hold your pee: Although you don’t need to rush to the toilet every time you feel the urge, it is important to hold your urine often to allow bacteria to grow and infect your bladder. Dr Linehan says that bacteria can grow and multiply if exposed and don’t get rid of themselves. The UTI is not caused by waiting too long to use the toilet. It gives bacteria that is already present in your body more chances to become a full-blown infection.
- Get wet bathing suits although a wet bathing suit is not directly responsible for an infection, it can lead to a UTI by providing a friendly environment that encourages bacteria growth, according to Dr Linehan. She notes that bacteria can be found in any environment that is moist. This is true for sweaty gym clothes and damp underwear. To prevent bacteria, keep clothing in that area dry.
It doesn’t matter how you got your UTI. While they may go away naturally, many people require a course of antibiotics to get rid of the bacteria. You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms of a UTI.