teens

MANDY NOLAN: 6 things I wish my mum told me about UTIs.

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Thanks to our brand partner, Ural

I have four daughters. That’s a lot of ‘vagina management’.

I remember sitting my teenage daughters around the table and starting the conversation about sex and their changing bodies. I thought it would take an hour max.

We moved the conversation to the dinner table and it took six months.  Every night we’d nominate a topic for the next night, which gave me the next day to do the research.

There’s a lot to know. There’s a lot that I didn’t know. Now that three of my daughters live out of home I have a sense of maternal pride that I have given them an undergraduate degree in understanding their undercarriage!

It’s not just about periods and the mechanics of sex. As a mum and as a woman who’s been there, it’s important to share all the facets of managing an active sexuality. Like what to do when you get a UTI.

That’s a Urinary Tract Infection. Or cystitis. It’s often characterised by an unpleasant burning sensation or an increased frequency of urination.

I remember when it happened to me – I had no idea what was happening. I was 23 and I confided in an older woman at work that I thought I had a kidney infection.

She laughed and said, “Nup you have a UTI. Did you have wild sex last night?” I was so embarrassed. I had no idea that protected sex could be followed by such an excruciating and painful morning after.

Why hadn’t my mother told me this? I asked her and she admitted that even though she’d had numerous infections – she didn’t know that much about it.

mandy nolan
Mum, I get it. It's awkward to talk about it. Image: supplied.

So here is a crash course in the six things I wish my mum had told me about UTIs that can help you talk to your daughter about it.

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1. It's not just you. They're very common.

There's nothing to be embarrassed about. They’re mainly caused by sex, but they can also come from hypersensitivity to feminine hygiene products, chronic bladder inflammation, certain medications and other factors.

Why's that? It's a very short distance from the anus to the urethra. As little girls it’s why we’re told to wipe from front to back. A UTI or cystitis is usually caused by Escherichia coli or E.coli – the bacteria can come from the bowels or faeces. It will be on the skin and then make its way to the urethra.

2. Even though men can get UTIs, women are more likely.

One in two Australian women will experience this in their lifetime, compared to one in 20 Australian men, according to SA Health.

And you have to be even more careful when you’re pregnant - the symptoms can be harder to detect and if you don’t get treated it can lead to a kidney infection.

3. You'll know if you have a UTI. You just will.

A persistent urge to pee is generally how it starts. Like, you really have to go. You get there and then there’s very little urine when you do.

It can burn too. And often your urine is strong smelling and discoloured to a brownish-yellow.

There are three parts of the urinary tract that can be affected, becoming more serious as the infection ascends. If left untreated it can go from amber alert all the way to red.

The first is the urethra. This is urethritis. The symptoms are the ones I first described. If you catch it now you can generally sort yourself with a sachet or two of Ural effervescent powder to help restore a more alkaline balance.

The next stage of a UTI is when it hits the bladder. That’s when it’s called cystitis. This feels a bit more intense and along with the frequency of urination you can experience pelvic pressure, discomfort in your lower abdomen and even blood in your urine. If you have these symptoms you need to see a doctor as you may need antibiotics, as well as Ural as a pain reliever.

A UTI needs to be treated early so it doesn’t progress up your tract. What you don’t want is when you have acute pyelonephritis –that's when your kidneys are affected. If you got to this stage you’d have a high fever, you’d be nauseous, vomiting, you’d be shaking and getting chills and have pain in your back and side. This will require immediate medical attention and in some cases a short hospital stay so you can receive antibiotics via an IV drip.

4. UTIs can easily be prevented.

One of the best ways to UTI proof yourself is to urinate after sex. This helps flush out bacteria from the urethra.

Staying hydrated helps too. It's also advised that you should wear underwear made of cotton rather than synthetic materials. And of course, wipe front to back.

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You can also take a Ural High Strength Cranberry capsule once a day to help support your urinary tract health and help reduce the risk of cystitis recurring.

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"A UTI needs to be treated early." Image: Getty.

5. Your vagina is perfect just the way it is.

Avoid using any perfumed sprays or products that irritate the urethra. One of my daughters can’t use regular soap – instead she uses a non-sulphate natural product to wash with. Although doctors do say that we don’t actually need to use anything but water to wash our genitals.

6. Some women are just more likely to get UTIs than others.

If you have more than three a year then you’re probably just going to have to get vigilant about following the steps to keep your urethra happy.

Regular UTIs can indicate an abnormality in the urinary tract or be the result of an underlying condition like diabetes or kidney stones.My friend’s daughter had them regularly as a teenager and after investigation by the doctor it was revealed she only had one kidney. This is worst case scenario stuff but regular infections are a reminder to check in with your doctor.

I haven’t had a UTI now for about five years. They can take you by surprise and often turn up at very inopportune times. The last time for me I was on a 12-seater plane flying to an outback town for a three-day women’s function. There were no toilets on the plane – to give you an idea of how small it was, the pilot turned round with a plate of sandwiches and handed them out.

From my own experience, I've made sure my daughters know what to look out for. Because the awkwardness of that conversation is all worth it if they're taking care of themselves.

Did your mum talk to your about UTIs? Have you ever had one? Share below, no shame here.

ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS FOR USE. IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST, WORSEN OR CHANGE UNEXPECTEDLY TALK TO YOUR HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.
Ural

Razor blades, burning fire, constant need to wee?
Cystitis, the most common UTI (urinary tract infection) can be painful and hard to ignore. URAL Effervescent Powder can provide fast, effective relief from the painful, burning symptoms of cystitis. Ural is urinary alkalinizer that works by raising the pH to neutralise the acidic urine thereby making it more comfortable to wee. Ural can be used in combination with most antibiotics however always check with your doctor. For other burning questions, search for URAL.

ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS FOR USE. IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST, WORSEN OR CHANGE UNEXPECTEDLY TALK TO YOUR HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.

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