Question: how can you get a UTI? We’re going to guess your answer involved sex. No, we’re not mind readers. That’s simply what the majority of women (and men) have been taught growing up.
The truth is, sex can cause urinary tract infections. In fact, it’s one of the most common causes of UTIs, especially for women. During intercourse, bacteria can enter the vagina and make its way to the bladder and urinary tract. From there, it gets cozy and you get an infection. Men are less likely to get a UTI from sex, but it’s still possible.
That’s why we rounded up the 6 most common non-sex causes of UTIs for both women and men.
- Holding in your pee
We’ve all been there. When you really have to go, but that lineup at the public washroom is too long. Or when you’re in the middle of a Zoom call with your boss that you just can’t step away from.
It may seem like no biggie, but holding in your pee for long periods of time is a major UTI risk. The longer urine sits in the bladder, the more time there is for bacteria to grow. By the time you finally get to a toilet, the bacteria might have already made itself at home.
- Giving in to your sweet tooth
Bad news, dessert lovers. Consuming too much sugar is another UTI no-no. A high-sugar diet can cause your blood sugar to spike, forcing the kidneys to process sugar into your pee. From there, bacteria gets a full-on sugar rush.
That’s why people with diabetes are 60% more likely to develop a UTI than those without diabetes. If your blood sugar levels are out of control, bacteria has even more sugar to feast on in the urinary tract. Plus, some diabetes patients have trouble fighting off infections and emptying their bladder regularly, putting them at an even greater risk for developing a UTI.
- Having a baby
Pregnancy is a beautiful and exciting time. But while you’re growing your little bundle of joy, you’re also a prime target for UTIs.
During pregnancy, hormonal changes can cause the bladder muscles to relax. This allows pee to sit longer in the bladder, attracting bacteria build-up. Pregnant women also have a harder time fighting infections overall. If that wasn’t enough, the expansion of their urethras and concentration of pee can all contribute to a high potential for UTI.
Urinary tract infections while pregnant can be serious. They can cause high blood pressure, premature delivery, and even kidney damage. If you think you might have a UTI while pregnant, contact your doctor immediately to start treatment.
- Not drinking enough water
Fluids are key to a UTI-free life. They flush bacteria out of our urinary tract before it can cause an infection. But when we’re dehydrated, the lack of urination gives bacteria the freedom to multiply. That’s why drinking lots of water is so important for UTI prevention.
Pro tip: drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily to increase your pee frequency. This will help clear up your urinary tract and stop pesky bacteria from taking hold.
- Going through menopause
Simply getting older can increase your risk of UTI, especially for women. As women age, the bladder and urethra can become thinner, making it easier for bacteria to move through the urinary tract. Plus, menopause significantly lowers estrogen levels, which can have a major impact on the vagina and bladder.
Many menopausal women will use an estrogen treatment to stop infections and soothe irritated skin. A Cranberry PACs Supplement can also help prevent UTIs as your body moves through the natural ageing process.
- Certain types of birth control
Okay, so this one might be sex-related. But so few people know how their choice of birth control can make them susceptible to UTIs.
Exhibit A: diaphragms. A diaphragm is a silicone cup that sits inside the vagina to cover the cervix during sex. While it acts as a shield for sperm, it can also put a lot of pressure on the urethra and make it more difficult to empty your bladder.
Non-lubricated latex condoms and spermicide can also increase your risk of UTI by irritating the skin and harming good bacteria in the vagina.
To avoid UTI by birth control, stay away from diaphragms and spermicide, use a water-based lubricant with condoms, and consider switching to a less invasive type of birth control, like the pill.
How to prevent non-sex UTIs
When it comes to UTIs, education is your best weapon. By understanding the sex and non-sex causes of UTIs, you can avoid risk factors and create a foolproof UTI prevention plan.
Along with the tips in this article, add a UTI prevention supplement to your daily routine. Utiva’s Cranberry PACs Supplement is loaded with 36 mg of PACs (per dose), which is clinically proven to stop bacteria from taking hold and causing infection. It’s doctor recommended, 100% natural, and free from harmful antibiotics.
Curious about what else can cause a UTI? Our Utiva community group is a safe space where you can talk with others about anything and everything UTI-related. We host monthly virtual sessions with doctors and industry experts to help educate and empower people to take control of their urinary tract health. Join the conversation and head to www.utivahealth.ca to learn how you can prevent UTIs (for good).