AG: Great question! Urinary tract infections are basically when any part of the bladder, kidneys, or urethra gets infected and they are an incredibly common - and painful! - infection. Sexually active people are also at a higher risk for UTIs than those who aren’t having sex.
AA: Thanks for asking this very common question! Female bodied individuals are more likely than male bodied individuals to contract a UTI. Anatomy has a lot to do with this. Female bodied individuals have a shorter urethra making it easier for bacteria to enter the bladder. This doesn’t mean that men can’t get UTIs. Though, when they do they are generally more serious and should be seen by a doctor right away.
AG: UTIs definitely aren’t fun but the good news is that they’re treatable and that there are things everyone can do to lower their risk! A pervasive myth is that cranberry juice helps treat UTIs. This is not true! If you do have one, see your PCP and you can get prescribed antibiotics. A hot compress can also help to relieve the pain.
AA: You can also go to the pharmacy to pick up some over the counter medication like Pyridium or Phenazopyridine which can help relieve some of the symptoms of UTIs which include persistent urge to urinate, burning during urination, and pelvic pain just to name a few.
For everyone, whether or not you’re sexually active:
Make sure you’re drinking enough water and not holding in your pee - this can make it easier for bacteria growth. Also, try to wear cotton underwear and loose fitting pants because tight jeans can trap moisture. Lastly, limit bladder irritants like coffee or alcohol.
If you’re having vaginal sex:
The first thing is to remember to always, always pee after having vaginal sex.
AA: Additionally, using unlubricated condoms or spermicides can increase the risk of UTIs. If you are using one of these methods and find yourself having recurring UTIs I would recommend having a conversation with your PCP about your barrier and birth control methods.
AG: Just a reminder that the anus and the vagina are different environments and you should never move penetrative objects (sex toys, penis, fingers) from the anus to the vagina without cleaning them off or changing condoms! Lastly, don’t worry - oral sex alone doesn’t increase the risk of UTIs!