Can I have sex with a urinary tract infection

Urinary tract infection

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Usually, urinary tract infection means a bladder infection (cystitis or cystitis). The urinary tract also includes the renal pelvis, ureters and urethra, and possibly also the prostate. Cystitis is an infection of the lining of the bladder caused by bacteria.

A urinary tract infection is an inflammation of the tissue that lines the urinary tract, caused by the penetration of pathogens. This can affect the renal pelvis, ureters, bladder and urethra, often in men with involvement of the prostate. A urinary tract infection manifests itself mainly in the increased, painful and frequent need to urinate and in the equally painful urination.

Women in particular are repeatedly plagued by this unpleasant and painful disease due to the anatomical conditions described below. Urinary tract infections are also favored hormonally. Due to hormonal changes, women during and after the menopause often have to struggle with it more often. The same applies to men: if they are mostly spared it in younger years, the susceptibility to it increases from around 60 years on. The reason for this is often the enlargement of the prostate through which the urethra runs and which can be squeezed off by this change. The complete emptying of the bladder is continuously prevented, bacteria get a good breeding ground. It is precisely this inability to completely empty the bladder that is one of the reasons why women are particularly prone to urinary tract infections during pregnancy.

Elderly patients with weak immune systems and those who have had an indwelling catheter are at greater risk of developing a bladder infection.

Not only is the urinary bladder emptied via the urethra, pathogens such as fungi, viruses or bacteria can also get in from the other direction and trigger an infection there. Mostly these are the colon's own E. coli bacteria.

This is also the reason for the particular susceptibility of women, because the female urethra is much shorter (3 to 4 cm) than the male (20 to 25 cm) and is located in the immediate vicinity of the anus.

The bacteria irritate the lining of the inner wall of the bladder. Tissue growth or a bladder stone can also cause irritation. The result is that even a small amount of the bladder is filled with an urge to urinate.

At the transition from the bladder to the urethra there are two sphincter muscles, one of which can be consciously controlled. With a bladder infection, the sensitivity to irritation increases, the urge to urinate occurs disproportionately often or does not decrease at all.

"Honeymoon Cystitis"

Urinary tract infections can also occur through sexual intercourse. An old name for the infection is therefore “honeymoon cystitis”, which is a disease that increasingly afflicted young women on their honeymoon.

During sexual intercourse, the woman's own intestinal bacteria are distributed in the genital area and, as it were, “massaged” into the urethra. The infection is usually triggered by the redistribution of the body's own bacteria and is usually not transmitted by the man's bacteria. Anyone prone to urinary tract infections should therefore empty their bladder immediately after sexual intercourse so that bacteria are flushed out again immediately.

Other possible causes

  • Some neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis or paraplegia, can lead to urination disorders. Here, and also with diabetes, the risk of cystitis increases.
  • In women, recurrent cystitis can also be caused by a disease of the ovaries or uterus.
  • In rare cases, women between the ages of 30 and 50 can develop painful cystitis without any evidence of germs. Searching for the cause is difficult; psychological components can be involved. It is also possible that it is a pain projection of the abdominal or pelvic area.
  • Sometimes chronic cystitis arises from a nervous system disorder associated with an allergic reaction to certain foods. For example, a protein enzyme found in grain can cause an organ disorder. Switching to a gluten-free diet can be helpful here.
  • Lactose intolerance (milk sugar intolerance) can also be the reason for bladder irritation. The physical reaction to lactose can be examined in the laboratory test.
  • Chronic cystitis or irritable bladder can also have psychological causes. Psychotherapeutic work-up can help here.

The symptoms of a urinary tract infection are just as clearly recognizable as they are painful: increased or permanent urge to urinate, with hardly any urine leaking when going to the toilet. The attempt to urinate is accompanied by a burning sensation and a cramp-like pain that can run through the abdomen in waves. Sometimes there may also be blood in the urine or a fever. Pain in the kidney area already indicates a complication of the inflammation.

In the early stages or with chronic bladder inflammation, however, often only mild symptoms occur, there is a risk of being trivialized!

Uncomplicated urinary tract infection

In the case of a urinary tract infection, a strip test is routinely done, which shows whether there are bacteria or inflammatory cells in the urine. In the case of an uncomplicated urinary tract infection, coli bacteria are the pathogens that can be detected in 80 percent of cases; further tests are then not necessary.

Complicated urinary tract infection

The situation is different with complicated urinary tract infections. In pregnant women, severely weakened patients or in the case of non-response to therapy, a further diagnosis of a cystitis is the laboratory diagnostic Urinalysis from midstream urine or even better from one single-use catheter urine removed under sterile conditionsto identify the infectious agents.
In an ultrasound examination, the location and outline of the kidneys and urinary tract can be checked and any obstruction to the flow of urine can be found.

With the help of a water-soluble contrast medium, the Bladder x-ray (cystogram) The emptying of the bladder is considered, functional disorders in the urine flow can be diagnosed. The contrast agent can also be administered intravenously.

An X-ray of the lower urinary tract is called Micturition Cystogram (MCU). Here the contrast agent is injected into the bladder through a catheter and then urinated by the patient. These X-ray procedures are used when sitting, for which there is a special device on the X-ray table.

The Cystoscopy or Cystoscopy is an assessment of the urinary bladder from the inside if a bladder perforation or tissue changes are suspected (urinary bladder tumor). A possible thickening of the bladder wall is determined by means of sonography (ultrasound examination).

Prescription drugs

Bacterial pathogens are treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics; because of the increased resistance of many pathogens to antibiotics, these can be combined with antibiotic and germ-inhibiting agents (trimethoprim, nitrofurantoin and possibly quinolones). In addition, anticonvulsants are often prescribed.

Over-the-counter drugs and alternatives

For supplementary treatment, there are homeopathic medications and herbal extracts that help with flushing and that can be used for bladder infections, especially after the introductory antibiotic therapy. Herbal products should be tested for their individual tolerance; this applies, for example, to the strongly diuretic juniper berries, which are not always tolerated.

Drink a lot

Any therapy for a urinary tract infection must be supported by adequate fluid intake so that the bacteria are washed out of the body. So drink, drink, drink: two to three liters of water or tea a day! Even if urinating is painful, it makes sense to drink more, as the uncomfortable feeling continuously decreases.

In principle, anything except alcohol, coffee and black tea is suitable as a drink for flushing the body. Water and unsweetened teas are particularly cheap, but those who prefer fruit juices should make sure that they are not sweet, but rather sour. Cranberry juice and cranberry juice occupy a special position, as it prevents bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urethra and the bladder. In addition, the acid contained in it makes the pH of the urine acidic and thus deprives the bacteria of their breeding ground. Ready-made bladder teas from the pharmacy also work well, as they stimulate urine production in the kidneys.

warmth

Warmth, for example in the form of a hot water bottle, has a beneficial relaxing effect and stimulates blood flow in the bladder. If there is blood in the urine, however, the hot water bottle must be avoided: the warmth that expands the blood vessels could cause even more blood to escape. A warm full bath should also be avoided in the case of a urinary tract infection, as this can lead to a transmission of germs again. A foot bath can be beneficial and warm feet, for example wearing thick socks, are generally recommended.

A treated urinary tract infection usually runs smoothly and improves quickly after the start of therapy until it subsides after a few days. Sometimes, however, bacteria can also settle in the kidneys or the renal pelvis and, if left untreated, cause serious damage or, in very rare extreme cases, lead to blood poisoning.

If symptomatic pain persists, and especially if it is accompanied by fever and a general feeling of illness, it is essential to consult a doctor! This could be evidence that the kidneys, renal pelvis or, in men, the prostate are affected by the transmitted bacterial inflammation.

Urinary tract infections are complicated in children and older men, as there is usually a cause for the infection and the course is not clear. Consequential damage cannot be ruled out.

Cystitis that comes back more than three times a year may require long-term drug treatment for six months. Healing can be difficult with resistant pathogens, especially with long-term catheter wearers or with a bladder infection acquired in hospital.

What can you do to prevent urinary tract infections?

  • Drink enough, if you are prone to urinary tract infections, you can drink cranberry juice or cranberry juice as a prophylactic measure.
  • In general, empty the bladder regularly and, if possible, completely so that no bacteria can settle in it.
  • Empty your bladder immediately after intercourse.
  • Regular but not excessive intimate hygiene in order to preserve the natural flora in the genital area, do not use intimate sprays or overly aggressive shower gels, do not do vaginal douching.
  • Always wipe from front to back on the toilet, also always dry from front to back after showering.
  • If you have a tendency to develop a cystitis, it is best to wear cotton underwear, as synthetic materials create a warm, humid microclimate that promotes the growth of bacteria and fungi.
  • Keep your abdomen warm, change your wet swimwear immediately and do not sit on a floor that is too cold.
  • Do not use a spermicide-coated diaphragm or any other spermicide during intercourse.

Dr. Michael Lamche is a specialist in urology at the Benefit / we-care medical and health center, www.we-care.at

Honeymoon cystitis