Health Conditions / Sexual and Reproductive Health / Urinary Tract Infections

Why ‘Make Sure to Pee Before You Leave the House’ Isn’t Always Good Advice

Why ‘Make Sure to Pee Before You Leave the House’ Isn’t Always Good Advice

You’ve certainly heard this advice before: Always pee before you leave home. These seemingly wise words, often drilled into us as children, are meant to help us avoid smelly rest stops and that awkward moment when you rush into a store to ask if they have a bathroom, only to be turned away.But even if you followed this recommendation consistently, you may experience a frustrating phenomenon: You still need to pee while you’re out and about. You might even have to pee more than once or have trouble holding it in. So what gives? Here’s the gist: By forcing yourself to pee before you head to your next destination, you’re probably achieving the exact opposite of what you’d hoped for. What happens when you habitually pee without the urge?First, some anatomy 101: The bladder is a very flexible organ, like a balloon. It has really stretchy muscle fibers. This means you shouldn’t hold in your pee for too long, because your bladder may start to stretch out and have trouble bouncing back, like a big floppy balloon. On the flip side, one of the reasons you shouldn’t pee when you don’t need to is that you can build up muscle in the organ, which stiffens the bladder wall. Both of these habits can lead to issues emptying your bladder down the road.However, the brain controls every bodily process, including urination, according to Victoria Handa, MD, MHS, the director of the department of gynecology and obstetrics at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore. “There’s absolutely a mental component to needing to pee,” Dr. Handa tells SELF. (If you’ve ever been hit by a bout of nerves and felt a subsequent urge to use the bathroom, you know what we’re talking about.) Thanks to this mental association, peeing if you don’t have the urge may actually prime (and train) your brain and bladder to go more frequently.“The connection between the brain and the bladder—how and when and why the bladder sends its ‘I’m full’ signal to the brain—is complicated, but in short, the bladder is a very trainable organ,” Lauren E. Stewart, MD, an ob-gyn who specializes in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery and an assistant professor at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, tells SELF. Over time, Dr. Stewart explains, if you continue to pee before your bladder is actually full, it may learn that it should empty itself when there’s less inside. “This means that you’ll be urinating more frequently since your bladder thinks it cannot hold as much,” she says. Also, know that the bladder can hold quite a bit of urine: Research1 suggests people with vaginas can store up to 500 milliliters of urine—or about two cups—in their bladders; if you fall into this camp, you’ll probably feel the urge to pee when the bladder has between 200 and 350 milliliters of pee in it.So before you head to the bathroom, you might want to make sure that you actually need to pee so you’re not sending your bladder mixed messages. Of course, there’s no need to stress over this too much either; you won’t instantly train your bladder to go all the time by partaking in a precautionary pee every so often. “Generally speaking, the bladder takes time to learn (and unlearn) these behaviors,” Dr. Stewart says. How can you tell if you’re peeing too often?There’s the “just in case” pee before you leave the house, and then there’s peeing too much in general. Because peeing is so psychological—in other words, you can talk yourself into needing to go—it can be hard to tell when it’s necessary to see a doctor about urinary frequency (needing to pee often), overactive bladder (the urge to pee suddenly), or even stress incontinence (when some form of pressure causes urine leakage, rushing you to the bathroom).

8 Signs You Should Talk to a Doctor About Your Urinary Incontinence

8 Signs You Should Talk to a Doctor About Your Urinary Incontinence

Heavy lifting and high-impact movements, like running and jumping, also put pressure on your bladder and the surrounding muscles.1 If you notice that you pee a little, say, during intense workouts or even when you’re rushing out the door to get to the office quickly, that’s a good indication you may be experiencing stress incontinence.2. You constantly wake up at night to go to the bathroom.An overactive bladder causes frequent urination and makes you feel a strong urge to pee, sometimes when you don’t actually need to go. That might wake you up during the night, Dr. Sutherland says. It might also mean you need to take several bathroom breaks during work meetings or constantly have to pause Netflix to go pee (even if you’re not drinking a ton of fluids).3. You feel like you need to pee, but can’t go once you try.Maybe this scenario sounds familiar: You feel such a strong urge to pee that you can’t ignore it and rush to the bathroom. But, once you get there, just a little dribble comes out. This urge, even when your bladder isn’t actually full, is a symptom of an overactive bladder. “Basically, someone is going all the time, and every time they go, there’s just not that much in there,” Dr. Sutherland says.4. You just can’t get to the restroom quickly enough.“Sometimes, you feel like you have to go to the bathroom, and you can’t get there in time,” Dr. Sutherland says. This is a symptom of an overactive bladder. Things that may affect your mobility, especially as you get older, like an injury, disability, or arthritis, might also make it tough to reach the bathroom or unbutton your pants quickly enough, potentially leading to an accident.25. You carry around extra underwear, just in case.How much do you worry about leaking? If you carry extra underwear, pads, or panty liners with you at all times “just in case,” that means urinary incontinence is making a big enough impact in your day to be top of mind. If it’s come to this, Dr. Sutherland suggests talking to your doctor.6. You notice blood in your urine.If you suspect you have any type of urinary incontinence and also spot blood in your urine, talk to your doctor immediately, Dr. McAchran urges. Blood in your urine, known as hematuria, might make your pee look pink, red, or brown. This can be one telling symptom of a urinary tract infection (UTI) or kidney stones. Luckily, if one of these things is causing your incontinence, getting the right treatment will resolve your bladder control issues. In rare cases, hematuria can be a rare sign of cancer in the urinary tract, so it’s important to make your doctor aware so they can rule it out if needed, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.7. You feel pain when you go to the bathroom.If it’s ever painful to pee, Dr. McAchran urges talking to your doctor as soon as possible. Dysuria, or pain or burning discomfort when you urinate, could be a sign of a UTI, bladder infection, or inflammation of your bladder or urethra, all of which can trigger or exacerbate incontinence. It’s important to get a proper diagnosis and treatment so that any underlying infection causing the pain doesn’t move deeper into your body and become even more serious.8. Your worry is starting to take over your life.Worrying about leaking or always making sure that you’re close to a bathroom weighs on you. If it’s stopping you from going to the gym, jumping on the trampoline with your kids, or dissuading you from going out in public, call your doctor, Dr. McAchran says. “If the incontinence is keeping you from doing things that you want to do, that’s absolutely a reason to get help.”How is urinary incontinence treated?Dr. McAchran suggests starting with your primary care physician, who can refer you to a urologist or urogynecologist. When you meet with a specialist, they’ll ask you lots of questions, such as when your symptoms started, how often you’re leaking, what seems to cause the leaks, whether you feel a strong urge to go to the bathroom and how often, and how all of this is affecting your day-to-day life, Dr. McAchran says.

10 Ways to Strengthen Your Bladder Control, According to Urologists

10 Ways to Strengthen Your Bladder Control, According to Urologists

As a result, Dr. Sutherland says she sometimes tells patients with bladder control issues to drink more. “It sounds counterproductive, but when you drink enough, your urine isn’t as concentrated,” she stresses.3. …but do recognize when you’re drinking enough.While you should drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, drinking to excess can certainly affect your bladder control. How do you walk that fine line?“I tell my patients to look at their pee color. If it’s light yellow or clear, they don’t need to drink more,” W. Stuart Reynolds, MD, MPH, associate professor in the department of urology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, tells SELF. “If their urine is dark yellow or orange, they need to drink more.”Remember, hydration doesn’t just come from your water bottle. Soups, juices, and even certain foods (like some water-rich fruits and veggies) contribute to your daily fluid intake as well, which can help your goals feel more realistic.4. Space out your beverages.“There’s no point in guzzling,” Dr. Sutherland says. Spreading out your drinks throughout the day is the best way to stay hydrated and be kind to your bladder. She recommends having a full glass of water or another beverage with each meal, and then sipping the rest of your fluids throughout the day.This can help you avoid getting into a cycle of “catching up” all at once because you’ve been busy or generally avoiding fluids, which Dr. Sutherland says is common. Glugging a ton of water at once will only make your bladder fill up more quickly. The result? You’ll probably end up making multiple trips to the bathroom, usually right around when (or after) you’ve gone to sleep.If you do wake up a million times a night to pee, Dr. Sutherland suggests scaling back on when you take your last sips in the evenings. You may have to experiment to figure out the best timing, but the Cleveland Clinic says pausing all drinks at least two hours before bed is a good rule of thumb to start with.5. Be honest about your coffee habit.Caffeine is a mild diuretic, meaning it prompts the kidneys to make urine faster, Dr. Sutherland explains. “The bladder is then the holding tank, and when the bladder gets full faster, it’s going to tell you to go to the bathroom more,” she adds. Even caffeine-free versions of your favorite energizing beverages, like coffee, tea, and certain fizzy drinks, can act as a bladder irritant for some people, per the Mayo Clinic, so that’s worth noting as well.To that point: Remember that coffee isn’t the only caffeinated drink out there. Many teas and packaged drinks can also be full of the stuff, and therefore affect your bladder. Dr. Sutherland stresses enjoying these in moderation for those whose bladders seem to be especially sensitive. The only way to know if that’s you is to experiment a bit. Pay attention to how you feel after drinking caffeine, and then try to scale back from there as needed.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence at Every Age, from Your 20s and Beyond

Causes of Urinary Incontinence at Every Age, from Your 20s and Beyond

Are you noticing that a little bit of pee leaks out when you get the giggles? What about during your morning jog? Do you have to get up to use the bathroom several times throughout the night? If this sounds familiar, you should be aware of urinary incontinence or loss of bladder control. You might think it’s an issue you couldn’t possibly deal with until you’re older, but the truth is that anyone of any age can experience urinary incontinence.According to the Urology Care Foundation, anywhere from 25 to 33% of American adults have some form of urinary incontinence, and it affects twice as many people with vaginas as it does people with penises. Though your urinary incontinence risk does generally increase as you get older, you can experience it as early as your 20s—but a lot of young people assume they’re alone in their experience.Sarah McAchran, MD, urogynecologist and associate professor of urology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, tells SELF that there’s a misconception that incontinence is an “old lady disease.” This spikes the effects of the stigma that younger people with the condition sometimes feel. “I think it’s difficult for people to talk about because there’s a lot of shame associated with it,” Dr. McAchran says. “If someone is in their 30s, they may think they’re the only person who has it.”First, a little urinary incontinence 101.Let’s back up a bit: Urinary incontinence refers to any leaking of urine that you can’t control, according to the Urology Care Foundation. It’s a physical problem, yes, but it can also affect a person’s emotional well-being. After all, it can interfere with your daily life and cause you to avoid activities you enjoy because you may worry about leaking in public or needing to be close to a bathroom, which can set off a ton of stress.That’s because incontinence is often caused by pelvic floor trauma from all types of causes, including childbirth, menopause, hysterectomy, chronic coughing, constipation, and the list goes on, according to experts at Yale Medicine. Basically, anything that puts extra strain on or causes dysfunction of the pelvic floor muscles—the group of muscles that support the bladder, urethra, uterus, and bowels—can lead to urinary incontinence. Plus the bladder and nearby muscles tend to just naturally weaken with age, per the US National Library of Medicine.There are two main types of urinary incontinence: stress incontinence and urge incontinence, Suzette Sutherland, MD, director of female urology and associate professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, tells SELF.Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) means the pelvic muscles let urine leak out uncontrollably, usually due to some kind of pressure—like when you cough, sneeze, or jump. “You’re not strong enough down below for whatever reason and a little bit of urine comes out,” Dr. Sutherland explains.Urge incontinence, also called overactive bladder, is when you feel the urge to urinate frequently. Some people may experience a combination of SUI and overactive bladder (known as mixed incontinence). Overflow incontinence, when your bladder doesn’t fully empty, and functional incontinence, when a physical or mental impairment makes it hard to get to the bathroom, are other less common types.Urinary incontinence in your 20sWelcome to adulting! SUI and overactive bladder can occur at any age, even in your 20s. Incontinence can be set off by certain lifestyle habits, like drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, and health issues, like urinary tract infections, hormonal changes, or having to take certain medications, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Is It Healthier to Wear a Thong or Go Commando Under Yoga Pants?

Is It Healthier to Wear a Thong or Go Commando Under Yoga Pants?

If avoiding infection is your goal, wearing full-butt undies (bikinis, briefs, hipsters) with a breathable cotton crotch is best, Dr. Yamaguchi says. Or opt for seamless full styles, which tend to be made of synthetic fabric but are still better than a thong in this case because they’re not, well, shoved up your crotch. Whatever you wear, make sure your pair fits well and is not overly tight, Dr. Yamaguchi advises—again, to avoid chafing and spreading potentially harmful bacteria.But if you don’t want to deal with undie lines or you’re just not a full-bottom person, then going commando is a healthier habit to ward off infection. Yes, a tight pair of yoga pants could also trap sweat, but they’re also not rubbing against your anus and then vagina as you move, Dr. Yamaguchi says. Ideally, the crotch of the pants will be made of moisture-wicking fabric, adds Dr. Dweck, since, again, bacteria thrive in a moist environment.The vulva-friendly way to wear yoga pantsOf course, there are a lot of factors that could potentially lead to a vaginal infection or irritation, but making health-conscious underwear choices is an easy way to decrease your risk of both, Dr. Dweck says. Here are a few more gyno-approved tips to keep in mind:Swap undies. If you’re going from work to the gym, are currently wearing a thong, and want to continue wearing a thong, change into a new one, advises Dr. Yamaguchi. A clean pair ensures that the back strip of fabric is free from bacteria from your rectum prior to working out.Change ASAP. Regardless of what underwear you wore (or didn’t wear!) to exercise, “get out of your wet workout garments as soon as you’re able to” in order to help avoid irritation or a possible infection, Dr. Dweck says. And if you’re showering after your workout, be sure to towel yourself off well for the same reasons.Clean up with mild soap. Speaking of showering, washing the sweat and bacteria away from your vulva after a workout can also keep it happy, but if yours is on the sensitive side (i.e., you regularly experience irritation or infection), Dr. Dweck recommends sticking with mild soap and water. Check the label and look for words like “mild,” “gentle,” or “sensitive”—and avoid fragrance if you can, since added scents can be irritating, she says. (Also worth noting: Soap should only be used around your vulva—it should never go inside your vagina. That usually doesn’t end well!)Let your vulva breathe. After your shower, change into underwear (thong or otherwise) that has a cotton or moisture-wicking crotch. It’s also ideal to wear clothes that are on the looser side to let the area breathe, Dr. Dweck says—this helps keep moisture away from your vulva. What you want to avoid is showering and then putting your sweaty yoga pants back on, she adds.Don’t worry if you forget. If you’re about to work out or halfway through your routine and realize you’re wearing a thong under your yoga pants, it’s okay. Just try to remember next time—and don’t sweat it. (Har, har.) “You are not going to permanently ruin your vagina by wearing a thong to a hot yoga class,” Dr. Yamaguchi says.Related:

PSA: Don’t Sleep on the Campus Health Center When You’re in College

PSA: Don’t Sleep on the Campus Health Center When You’re in College

There’s a lot to love about college: sudden independence, late nights with new people who turn into lifelong friends, and endless opportunities to learn and grow. It can also keep you super busy—a packed schedule probably means that checking out various campus services is the last thing on your mind. But if there’s one service you use, make it your student health center.Not only will it put your health into your own hands (which may be a new thing for you), but it will help you stay on your A-game all throughout college. And if this is the first time you’ve had access to a one-stop shop for all your health needs, you may not even know everything that is available to you. In fact, when the SELF team discussed their biggest health-related college regrets, an overwhelming number of people said they wish they’d taken advantage of their campus health center.So here’s a rundown of the most important services that your student health center has to offer and why you should definitely check them out.1. You’re already paying for these health services.Here’s the thing: The cost of college includes tuition, room and board, and various student fees. Those fees generally include student health services, which means you might already be paying to access those resources. So why not make the most of it?For example, the health fee is mandatory for all students at UNC-Chapel Hill, whether or not they actually visit the health center, Ken Pittman, MHA, FACHE, executive director of campus health services at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, tells SELF. (Though 78% of students do utilize the university’s health services at least once a year, he notes). Basic services such as primary care visits, gynecology checkups, urgent care, and mental health counseling are covered under that fee, he says—so they won’t be billed to health insurance at all.As for services not covered by the student health fee? These vary at each school, but can include lab tests, like rapid flu testing, X-rays, and some procedures (for example, some campus health centers do IUD insertions and others don’t), says Pittman. These services are billed to the student’s personal health insurance, which may be required at some institutions.Remember, you can stay on your parents’ health insurance plan until you turn 26 years old, per Healthcare.gov, so you might have coverage that way. Many colleges and universities even offer students medical insurance plans, which may be another option for you. To learn more about your school’s specific health care requirements, chat with the folks at your campus health center.2. It makes it easy to schedule regular checkups.When you’ve got papers to write and classes to attend, getting annual checkups can feel like a drag. Besides, if you feel fine (save for the occasional sleepless night), do you really need routine checkups?TBH, yes. Regular checkups are a form of preventive care, which can help you identify or avoid health issues before they become bigger problems that require treatment. This involves services like routine blood tests, mental health screenings, and physical examinations, according to the US National Library of Medicine. Yes, your childhood primary care doctor, if you have one, can perform these services—but thanks to your student health center, you won’t need to wait until you’re back home to book an appointment.

Is This Why Your Penis Feels Like It’s Burning?

Is This Why Your Penis Feels Like It’s Burning?

Back to topHow long do penile yeast infections last?This depends on how advanced the yeast infection is, how fast you treat it, and how well it responds to medication. If you treat the infection with over-the-counter meds, you’ll usually apply these for one to three weeks.2 Ideally, this will be enough to make the yeast infection go away for good. If that doesn’t do the trick, you’ll need to see your doctor for next steps and an updated timeline. You’ll most likely need to take a single dose of oral antifungal medication, or if symptoms are severe, two single doses, three days apart, according to the Mayo Clinic.Back to topAre penile yeast infections contagious?Practically speaking, yes, you can pass a yeast infection to another person through vaginal, anal, or oral sex, but it’s not really the same thing as an STI like gonorrhea or chlamydia. That’s because everyone naturally has Candida living on their bodies. With a transmitted yeast infection, though, it really comes down to how your body reacts to someone else’s overgrowth of yeast, according to Planned Parenthood.If you keep getting penile yeast infections and you aren’t sure why, it may be a good idea to talk to your partner about the symptoms you’ve been experiencing. A doctor can test both you and your partner for the presence of yeast and recommend treatments to help if they confirm that you’re passing an infection back and forth (which can turn into a vicious cycle quickly when left untreated).So, do you have to wait until the yeast infection is gone to have sex? Generally, that is the safest option, but it really depends on the underlying cause of your infection and your doctor’s advice. They will likely give you the green light once your physical symptoms have gone away.Back to topCan you tell the difference between a penile yeast infection vs. a UTI vs. an STI?A penile yeast infection can closely resemble other health problems, including a urinary tract infection (UTI) or various STIs, but there are a few key differences. For one, they are all caused by different things (fungus, bacteria, and viruses are all in the mix here), and so they each have varying treatments.While a penile yeast infection will usually cause intense itching and white spots on the skin of the penis, a urinary tract infection will not. A UTI may also present with a few extra symptoms like fever and a near-constant urge to pee even if not much comes out, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).An STI may be a little more difficult to differentiate, since a number of sexually transmitted infections can cause symptoms that overlap with those of a penile yeast infection, like pain while urinating or having sex, inflamed skin, and discharge. When in doubt, see your doctor who can perform a physical exam and order any needed testing—you’ll likely need prescribed treatment regardless of your diagnosis.Back to topHow can I prevent a penile yeast infection?Since hot, humid conditions encourage yeast to thrive, it’s especially important to wash the penis (and foreskin, if you have it) with mild soap, especially after exercise and in the summer when the skin tends to be sweatier. Also, try to make sure the area under your foreskin is dry to halt eager yeast growth in its tracks.2 (A gentle pat down with a towel is all you need here!) Wearing breathable athletic wear may also be helpful during workouts and the warmer months, and change out of those clothes immediately after getting sweaty. It may also help to use some antifungal spray or powder on your genital area in the morning if you’re going to be working outside in hot weather. And since certain health conditions can increase your risk for a penile yeast infection, taking steps to manage your condition, such as keeping your blood sugar levels in check in the case of diabetes, is crucial for your overall health (and for trying to keep the yeast overlords at bay).With that said, penile yeast infections can just happen sometimes. Thankfully, there are lots of effective medication options, some of which you can even get at your local pharmacy. Because complications can be even more of a pain to deal with, getting on top of treatment as quickly as possible is the best way to get your life (and penis) back to baseline.Back to topSources:International Journal of Preventive Medicine, Penile Inflammatory Skin Disorders and the Preventive Role of CircumcisionStatPearls, BalanitisInternational Journal of Dermatology, Urologic Dermatology: A Comprehensive Foray Into the Noninfectious Etiologies of BalanitisRelated:

11 Possible Reasons Why It Seriously Burns When You Pee

11 Possible Reasons Why It Seriously Burns When You Pee

Kidney stones develop when salts and minerals commonly found in your pee pile up, crystalize, and stick together in your kidneys. Generally, this happens when your urine becomes concentrated for various reasons, including dehydration. For many people, drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help lower their chances of developing kidney stones4. But there are some medical conditions like gout (which causes joint swelling), that can increase your chances of developing these painful, pebble-like deposits, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Taking certain medications can also cause kidney stones.Interstitial cystitisInformally called “painful bladder syndrome,” this condition lives up to its name, as it can cause abdominal, bladder, and pelvic pain. (And yes, pain when peeing.) Generally, your pain starts when your bladder gets full and escalates until you let it all out. Then, you will have some relief until your bladder fills up again, according to the NIDDK. Aside from this, you may have the urge to use the bathroom very suddenly and more often than you normally do. Experts don’t know the exact cause of interstitial cystitis, but people who have the chronic condition may notice that dehydration, sex, and holding their pee makes their symptoms worse.Obstructive uropathyWith obstructive uropathy, your urine doesn’t drain through the urinary tract properly and backs up into your kidneys, causing a blockage. This typically happens as a complication of another health issue, such as kidney stones or a more serious condition like ovarian cancer, according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM). Other signs of a blockage include pain in your sides (near your kidneys), getting the urge to pee often, decreased urine flow, and feeling like your bladder is never truly empty. If you think you have obstructive uropathy, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as you can because the blockage can cause bladder and kidney damage without treatment.Back to topHow do I stop my pee from burning?Treatments and remedies for dysuria largely depend on what’s causing that painful urination in the first place. In general, though, Dr. White says that “if the symptoms are persistent after two to three days, getting worse, associated with other bothersome symptoms like fever or ulcers on the vagina, these are all reasons to be seen by your doctor.”If it’s a UTI:If you suspect you have a UTI, it’s crucial to see a doctor who can order a urine culture to confirm your diagnosis. If you do have a UTI, then a round of antibiotics can kick the infection (and burning pee) to the curb. Otherwise, your doctor can work with you to determine the real cause of your discomfort when urinating. As we mentioned, if left untreated, a UTI can spread and turn into a kidney infection, which can be potentially life-threatening. In addition to being more likely to get a UTI if you have a vagina, you’re also more likely to get a UTI if you’re sexually active, have a suppressed immune system, are in menopause, or have kidney stones or other complications blocking your urinary tract (among other risk factors), according to the Mayo Clinic. Over-the-counter urinary pain relief meds, like Azo, can ease your symptoms, but do not treat the infection, Dr. White says. If UTIs regularly besiege your poor body, make sure to take preventive measures, like staying hydrated, wiping from front to back, and trying to pee after you have sex if that seems to set off symptoms for you. And if you specifically get two or more UTIs in six months or four or more within a year, your doctor may be able to offer you preventive treatment like a single-dose antibiotic you take after sex, the Mayo Clinic says. People who have gone through menopause may take topical vaginal estrogen to help with recurrent UTIs. If it’s a yeast infection:Antifungal medications can clear up the infection (and symptoms like painful urination). Some of these are available over the counter, and some are prescribed. With that said, it can be smart to talk to a doctor before grabbing an OTC medication, especially since some other vaginal issues, including STIs or UTIs, can seem a lot like yeast infections. (Here’s a more in-depth explanation of treating a yeast infection at home.) Beyond that, if you have four or more yeast infections a year, you can talk to your doctor about preventative strategies, who will likely prescribe a longer course of antifungals. To avoid recurrent yeast infections, Dr. Yamaguchi recommends wearing cotton underwear for breathability (or at least underwear that has a cotton crotch) and changing ASAP after you work out instead of staying in sweaty gear because yeast can thrive in moist and warm environments5.If it’s bacterial vaginosis:Your doctor can do a few simple tests to determine what type of infection you have, and if they find bacterial vaginosis is behind your dysuria symptoms, they’ll prescribe antibiotics for you to take either orally or vaginally, the Mayo Clinic says.If it’s an STI:If you’ve been sexually active and are now feeling pain after peeing, it’s worth heading to the doctor to be safe, if you can. If you do have an STI, treatment depends on what type you’re diagnosed with. If it’s herpes, your doctor will probably prescribe antiviral medication like acyclovir (Zovirax) or valacyclovir (Valtrex) to use when you have symptoms, the Mayo Clinic says. For chlamydia, you’ll likely be treated with antibiotics, the CDC says. If gonorrhea is the cause of your painful urination, the CDC recommends having a single dose shot of intramuscular ceftriaxone and an oral dose of the antibiotic azithromycin. For trichomoniasis, your doctor will recommend that you take a large dose of either metronidazole (Flagyl) or tinidazole (Tindamax), the Mayo Clinic says. It’s really important to get tested for an STI if you think you have one. Left untreated, some infections (like chlamydia and gonorrhea) can have long-term consequences including infertility.If it’s a sex-related vaginal tear:To cut back on that yikes-inducing feeling, Dr. Yamaguchi recommends pouring warm water over your vaginal area while you’re peeing. “The temperature will help interfere with the nerve pathways,” she says. And to avoid the issue altogether, she suggests making sure you’re plenty lubed up whenever your vagina’s getting some attention. If your vaginal tissue is more fragile due to atrophy and lubrication doesn’t help prevent abrasions, you can ask your doctor about other options like estrogen replacement therapy, Dr. White advises.If it’s a childbirth-related vaginal tear:Pain related to vaginal and/or perineal tears is an unfortunately common circumstance after vaginal childbirth. There are a few strategies you can try for relief, like using perineal irrigation bottles. These are devices many new moms rely on that make it even easier to squirt warm water on themselves to dull the pain. According to the Mayo Clinic, you may also want to try using ice packs (wrapped in something like a towel to protect your skin), taking sitz baths, or putting chilled witch hazel pads on the affected area (a sanitary pad in your underwear will help keep the witch hazel pads in place). Pain relievers, numbing sprays, and stool softeners may also help—talk to your doctor to figure out what might be right for you.If it’s due to products like soap or douches:This is more about prevention. Stop using any products you think are giving you trouble—these commonly include scented soaps, vaginal hygiene products, and douches. Try replacing them with gentle, fragrance-free soap and some water to wash your vulva (your external genitalia). Again, you don’t even need to wash your actual vagina. Let it clean itself in peace, please!If it’s post-menopause atrophic vaginitis:Sadly, many people who experience this dysuria cause don’t seek treatment, either because they’ve given up hope on feeling better or they’re too shy to discuss it with their doctor, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you’re dealing with this, chat with your doctor to determine whether hormonal supplementation with estrogen may help your symptoms, and if not, how to find relief. Other options include vaginal moisturizers, lubricants, dilators, and numbing agents, the Mayo Clinic says.If it’s kidney stones:Treatment depends on the type of kidney stones you have (yes, there are numerous types based on the substance they’re made of), their size, why you developed them in the first place, and your specific symptoms, according to the NIDDK. A doctor can run multiple tests, such as a urine test to look for high amounts of minerals, or an X-ray to look at the size and location of your kidney stones. Your treatment can be as simple as drinking lots of water to help the stone pass (even though this will likely be painful), or it might involve having a procedure that uses sound waves to break up larger stones.If it’s interstitial cystitis:Since there’s no cure for this condition, treatment will aim to help relieve your individual symptoms. For example, you may drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration or try pelvic floor therapy if you have muscle spasms, according to the NIDDK. Bladder training6, which involves holding in your urine for longer than you typically do, may also help. Before you start a bladder training program on your own, though, it’s best to talk to your doctor about how to do this without making your symptoms worse.If it’s obstructive uropathy:If your symptoms suggest obstructive uropathy, chat with your doctor about testing, which may include an ultrasound of your abdomen or pelvis, according to NLM. If there is an obstruction, your doctor will talk through options about relieving symptoms and removing the blockage, depending on the root cause of the condition. For example, you may have a stent placed in your ureter to drain urine, in addition to surgery to repair the obstruction, according to NLM.

How to Tell If Your UTI Has Turned Into a Kidney Infection

How to Tell If Your UTI Has Turned Into a Kidney Infection

Back to topWhat to expect from kidney infection treatmentA kidney infection is easy to treat if it’s caught in its earliest stage, especially if you’re young and generally healthy. In this case, a course of antibiotics lasting a week to two weeks is usually enough, Dr. Movassaghi says. However, taking the full course of antibiotics is key for fully fighting off the infection, even if you’re feeling totally fine halfway through, so be sure to take every dose, says the NIDDK.If you have a severe kidney infection (marked by vomiting, nausea, dehydration, low blood pressure, or confusion) or are immunocompromised, you’ll likely need to be treated in the hospital with intravenous antibiotics. After a few days, you should be able to move on to taking antibiotics by mouth.In rare cases, a person might need surgery for a kidney infection. Usually, this is only considered if your doctor determines there’s something blocking your urinary tract (and causing recurrent infections) like a kidney stone or an enlarged prostate.Back to topWhat are potential kidney infection complications?Most people recover 100% from a kidney infection—but there is the possibility of serious complications if one is left untreated. As we mentioned, a kidney infection that doesn’t get treated can cause a condition known as sepsis. This happens when your body responds overzealously to an infection, which can lead to a dangerous drop in blood pressure and cause the body to go into shock, according to the NIDDK. This can make your organs fail, which, in the most extreme cases, can lead to death.Even in non-life-threatening cases, if you have a kidney infection that becomes chronic, you can wind up with permanent kidney damage that can cause problems like kidney disease or high blood pressure. In pregnant people, untreated kidney infections can also increase the risk of having a baby with low birth weight, notes the Mayo Clinic.All of that sounds scary, but here’s what’s most important to know: A kidney infection is treatable. It’s all about how soon you seek treatment once you start experiencing kidney infection symptoms.Back to topHow to prevent a kidney infectionPreventing a kidney infection is really all about preventing a urinary tract infection and getting prompt treatment if you ever get one. While you’ve probably heard that guzzling cranberry juice or taking certain supplements can keep UTIs away, the science is far too mixed to consider either of these a definitive way to prevent UTIs, according to the Cleveland Clinic.Here’s a more science-backed tip to take note of: Whenever you feel a potential bladder infection coming on, make it a habit to drink enough water every day to stay hydrated. That will ensure you’re peeing often enough to help flush out bacteria that could possibly lead to a urinary tract infection. The NIDDK recommends peeing as often as you get the urge, but definitely at least every three to four hours, since urine hanging out in your bladder for too long may help bacteria to grow.Dr. Kaufman also says peeing after you have sex, if you can, might be helpful if you tend to develop UTIs after sex. There’s not a ton of evidence to back this up as a prevention strategy, but it doesn’t do any harm to make a habit of it. For people with vaginas that get recurrent infections that only happen after sex, your doctor may recommend a single dose of a prophylactic antibiotic that you can take each time they have sex to help prevent infection.4 

Here’s the Truth About Having Sex With a Yeast Infection

Here’s the Truth About Having Sex With a Yeast Infection

Back to topHow long does a yeast infection last?How long a yeast infection sticks around really depends on what’s happening in your vagina and your personal preferences in terms of yeast infection treatment. If your symptoms are mild to moderate, you can use a short-course antifungal medication for one to seven days, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. These come in a cream, ointment, tablet, or suppository and are available either over-the-counter or with a prescription. Most of these options will clear up the average infection in under a week.2Another method to consider is a one-and-done oral medication like fluconazole (Diflucan), a single-dose treatment your doctor can prescribe to treat a yeast infection. But if symptoms become severe or you’re prone to multiple infections, your doctor may recommend a more involved treatment plan such as more oral doses of fluconazole or alternative treatments that have been shown to help some people when other options don’t work, like boric acid, nystatin, or flucytosine, which you apply directly in the vagina, per the CDC. No matter what kind of yeast infection treatment you pursue, it’s incredibly important to finish the whole course of medication and to closely follow your doctor’s plan, even after your symptoms have cleared up. Otherwise, that pesky yeast can claw its way back into microbe domination.Back to topCan I have sex if I’m treating a yeast infection?Technically, yes, you can have sex while treating a vaginal yeast infection, but it’s definitely complicated and something you’ll probably want to avoid. Here’s why: If you’re treating a yeast infection with a vaginal suppository, ointment, or cream and decide to have sex, you run the risk of making your medication less effective—and possibly prolonging the infection.Oral medications also pose a problem because you still have to worry about further irritating your vagina during sex and making yourself more susceptible to other infections. Penetrative acts tend to involve a lot of friction, which can create micro-abrasions in your vagina if it’s already irritated, Jacques Moritz, M.D. an ob-gyn at Mount Sinai, tells SELF. Those tiny tears can cause your poor vagina to feel even more inflamed. Plus, micro-tears in your vagina can make you more susceptible to sexually transmitted infections because they create openings for illness-causing pathogens to enter more easily, Dr. Moritz says.Plus, there’s the issue of potentially passing a yeast infection to your partner, which is reason enough to wait. (More on this below.)Back to topAre yeast infections contagious?Let’s get right to the burning question: Is a yeast infection contagious? Yes and no. It’s not really “contagious” in the way we normally think of something being contagious, and here’s why: Your body chemistry can react to the overgrowth of yeast or bacteria present within your partner’s genitals or mouth, transferring yeast and causing your own yeast to grow. But this is not the same thing as spreading a sexually transmitted infection (STI), according to Planned Parenthood. In the case of an STI, viruses or bacteria that are not naturally present in your body are introduced, causing a host of symptoms.Practically speaking, though, you can pass a yeast infection to a partner, which is a big reason to wait to have sex. Another way you might transmit yeast is through kissing if you have an overgrowth of candida fungus in your mouth (known as oral thrush). Again, this is possible, but not likely. That’s because we all have candida present in our mouth, but it only becomes thrush when it overgrows. Otherwise, generally healthy people are not at an increased risk of developing thrush from close contact, per the Cleveland Clinic.

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