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What is a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection), and how can I avoid getting one?

Thank you for this question.

UTI stands for ‘Urinary Tract Infection’. A UTI is not an STBBI, but it is possible to acquire them through sexual activity. Screening for UTIs is not part of a routine STBBI test. These are instead done on a case by case basis as needed.

A UTI happens when bacteria gets into the urethra (pee hole) and travels up into the bladder, and eventually the kidneys. Common symptoms of a UTI include the constant urge to urinate, a burning/sharp sensation while peeing, and when more serious, blood in urine, fever, and cramps on the lower abdomen and back. Drinking cranberry juice and plenty of water can help prevent a UTI from getting worse, but these are not cures. The best thing to do is to seek healthcare whether through a family doctor or a local walk in clinic. At later stages, UTIs require antibiotics to ensure the infection goes away. It is important to not ignore these symptoms, as a UTI can travel fairly quickly to the bladder and kidneys.

Although UTIs can happen in both penis-owners and vulva-owners, vulvas are more susceptible to UTIs due to the shaping of the labia and urethral opening (pee hole opening). In vulvas, urethral openings are more exposed.

There are many ways to help avoid getting a UTI, like peeing after any type of sexual activity (ex. penis-vagina intercourse, anal sex, or masturbation), wiping front to back, changing underwear relatively often, washing hands before touching one’s genitals, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding any irritant such as vaginal perfumes or non-pH balanced creams and soaps.

Getting a UTI does not mean that a person is unhygienic. Lots of bacteria live on the surface of our bodies, clothes, and sex toys, and it can be quite common to experience a UTI at some point. It’s helpful to be aware of practices that can help us avoid getting UTIs, and to remember that it shouldn’t hurt to pee!