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Urinary Tract Infection: Here's How It Can Impact Women’s Reproductive Health

Urinary Tract Infection: Here's How It Can Impact Women’s Reproductive Health
Urinary Tract Infection: Here's How It Can Impact Women’s Reproductive Health

Dear ladies! UTI can have some severe impact on your reproductive health. Read on to know more from Dr Gurpreet Kaur Virk.

Written by Satata Karmakar |Updated : March 29, 2023 10:02 AM IST

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection that is most frequently caused by microscopic E. coli bacteria (Escherichia coli). It develops in the gastrointestinal tract and spreads to the urinary tract, where it causes infections. Women tend to get UTIs more often due to having a shorter urethra than men, making it easy for the bacteria to travel a short distance and cause an infection. spoke to Dr Gurpreet Kaur Virk, Senior Consultant - Obstetrics & Gynecology, Manipal Hospital Patiala, to understand what effect UTIs have on women's reproductive health, and how a woman can prevent them from occurring.

People of any age might develop common diseases like urinary tract infections due to factors like bacterial overgrowth on the body, poor hygiene, extended contact with moisture, sexual activity, and others. These infections are easy to self-diagnose due to the discomfort, itchiness, and unusual fluid discharge they bring. UTIs usually recover in a few days' time with treatment and good practices. Like any other small complication, if UTIs are occurring repeatedly and taking longer to heal, then it is a sign of an underlying disease.

Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection

A UTI can impact different parts of the body, namely the kidneys, bladder, and urethra. Depending on the region, the infection may present different symptoms and have varied risk factors. The complication of UTI gets more confusing and critical during pregnancy and has an overall impact on the woman's reproductive and sexual health. This is how they impact:

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Repeated infections

Having two to three UTIs or more in one year is termed a recurrent UTI and is required to be treated at the earliest possible time using antibiotics. Each new infection increases the likelihood of future infections, even if they're treated. Repeated infections make it difficult to maintain hygienic standards, induce pain and burning when peeing, and create inflammation.

Intercourse complications

Although UTI does not spread via sexual activity, it can worsen under those conditions. Intercourse during a urinary tract infection is painful and harmful.

Difficulty in conceiving

UTI leads to inflammation and itchiness in the region that can complicate the ovulation process and risk scarring in the fallopian tubes.

Risk during pregnancy

The chances of getting a UTI may increase during pregnancy. If the treatment is not handled timely and carefully, the infection can lead to larger damage, even causing premature delivery and fetal loss. To eliminate these risks and take precautionary steps, one must first understand the early signs and symptoms of the disease:

Irregularity in urination

  1. Pain and burning sensation during urination
  2. Need to urinate frequently
  3. Presence of blood in the urine
  4. Not able to urinate completely
  5. Pressure and pain in the lower abdomen
  6. Foul smell in the urine
  7. Cloudy or dark-coloured urine
  8. Pain in the abdomen
  9. Cramps can occur in the lower abdomen region
  10. Sexual intercourse becomes painful
  11. Irritation in the vaginal region
  12. The whole body may also start to feel weak and fatigued

If the person notices one or two of these symptoms, they should immediately seek a doctor's advice and start treatment for a UTI after a diagnosis. Untreated UTIs can have a negative impact on other body systems in addition to being harmful to reproductive health. Two of the major complications of an untreated UTI are kidney infections leading to permanent kidney damage and sepsis, which is uncontrolled inflammation in the body to fight an infection that ultimately leads to fatality.

Therefore, it is important to pay attention to early signs of the infection and take precautions against the risk factors. Moreover, a few good habits can go a long way in preventing UTI, even if you catch it once.

  1. Drink plenty of water each day: Dehydration increases the risk of UTIs, and drinking at least 6 8 glasses of water each day helps the body fight the infection and flush out bacteria from the body.
  2. Avoid holding pee for long periods: Holding pee for even just an hour increases the chances of a UTI. This practice should be avoided at all costs, especially during a UTI.
  3. Urinate before and after intercourse: Bacteria may spread easily under such circumstances; therefore, urinating helps in flushing out bacteria that may cause the infection.
  4. Avoid chemicals and scented products: A woman's vagina has no requirement for scrubbing and cleaning with products or scented soaps. The vagina is fully capable of cleaning itself. A gentle shower with water is ideal to clean and keep the area hygienic.
  5. Wear clean clothes: Innerwear must be regularly changed and kept clean to avoid the breeding of bacteria. Other cleanliness habits include using water instead of toilet paper, wiping from front to back after using the toilet, and keeping the area dry.

With awareness and the best hygiene practices, UTIs can be avoided. In case an infection has taken place, an antibiotic treatment after consulting with a doctor will help treat the ailment.

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