The cause of urine infection is different in young females and elderly females. In young age UTI common in sexually active females. There is a term also given to it and is called Honeymoon cystitis. Elderly females get urine infection due to a deficiency of female sex hormones like estrogens. The deficiency of these hormones leads to decreased blood flow in vaginal mucosa which becomes pale ad dry. This makes the individual more prone to UTI.
Do women get a urine infection more commonly than males?
Yes, in a ratio of 8:1. Males are inherently refractory to urine infection as they have a long length of the urethra. The length of female urethra is only 3-4 cm. Most of the urine infections are ascending. The bug ascends up from the tip of the urine passage upwards. Just behind the tip of the urine passage is vaginal. Overzealous sex when the vagina is not well lubricated or female is using diaphragm can lead to urine infection. Behind the vagina is the anal opening. This is a potentially contaminated area. The bug from here can easily reach till the tip of urine passage and then ascend up causing infection. In males, the length of urethra is 16-20 cm, there is no vagina and the anal opening is far from the tip of urine passage giving an anatomical advantage to men.
How to prevent urine infection?
- Remain well hydrated. Observe the color of the urine. It should not be yellow. If it is yellowish, drink 2 glasses of water more.
- Drinking cranberry juice on a regular basis decreases the incidence of recurrent urine infection by 20%.
- Don’t hold the urine for too long.
- Always pass urine after sex. Clean the vagina with a splash of water after sex.
- Avoid constipation. Mop the perineum from front to back and not vice versa.
- Eat healthily. Have a serving of fruits and salads daily. Avoid adding salt to it.
- Have a sound sleep of at least 6 hours. It helps to maintain good immunity levels.
- After taking bath and before sleeping apply chlorhexidine based antiseptic solution on the perineum. Don’t apply it inside the vagina but over the skin folds over the vagina and around it (advice only for females getting recurrent UTI).
- In elderly females when due to hormonal imbalance vagina becomes pale and dry, the application of topical estrogen creams helps to prevent recurrent urine infection.
- Drink cranberry juice.
Why do I get urine infection time and again?
In females, it’s not uncommon to get recurrent UTI. The reasons can be:
- The initial treatment was incorrect or insufficient.
- The bug has a liking for the type of cells you carry on your body. It will not leave you soon and it has to be suppressed for a prolonged duration to dishearten it. Imagine you feed a cow daily and this cow comes daily at a fixed time outside your house. Now if you stop feeding her, it will still come daily expecting food for some time till it gets disheartened and stops coming. The same is true of the infecting bug. It obtains its nutrition from the host. It takes some time to get disheartened and leave your body. Therefore there is a role for giving urine antiseptics/ antibiotics for as long as 6 months in a suppressive dose. If you are getting UTI after intercourse, a dose of urinary antiseptic after sex prevents UTI.
- Lack of local hygiene
- Underlying urinary stone, diabetes, urine obstruction that has remained unaddressed.