What causes UTIs?
UTIs, or urinary tract infections, are caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract through the urethra. There are a few ways this can happen.
Bacteria can enter the urethra during intercourse, which is why women are usually advised to urinate after sex. Using certain feminine hygiene products such as douches, sprays or creams can also increase the odds of a bacterial infection, as does taking baths rather than showers.
Anatomically, women have a shorter urethra than men. As a result, bacteria can travel more easily from the gastrointestinal tract into the bladder, therefore increasing the risk of contracting a UTI. Holding in urine and not drinking enough water can also make it easier for bacteria to take hold and multiply. Finally, certain types of contraceptives like spermicides and diaphragms can also increase the chances of infection and change your vaginal pH. If you are currently using one of these contraceptives, you should consider an alternative method of contraception and consult your GP or healthcare provider for advice.
Most UTIs affect your urethra and bladder but they can also travel up the urinary tract into your kidneys, causing more severe symptoms and other complications.