Veröffentlicht am

Urinary tract infection: What is a UTI and what causes it

While we know chronic stress is doing our physical and mental health no favours, it could also be a contributing factor if you deal with recurrent UTIs.

Many of us have experienced the pain and discomfort of a urinary tract infection or UTI.

For some, they seem to occur more frequently, while other lucky ones may only have it once in their lifetime. Whatever the case may be, when you discover you do have a UTI, you may wonder what caused it.

From birth control to sex and even dehydration, several factors may lead to a UTI – but could stress also be one?

Like what you see? Sign up to our newsletter for more stories like this.

What is a UTI?

UTI stands for urinary tract infection and, as the name suggests, it affects the urinary system.

“UTIs can involve the lower urinary tract – the bladder – and/or the upper urinary tract – the kidneys and tubes leading up to the kidneys,” Dr Kirsty Wallace-Hor, a GP at Kin Fertility, explains.

“50 per cent of women will have one during their lifetime, and about 1 in 20 men will have one,” she adds.

“Women are at a higher risk because their urethra – the tube leading out from the bladder – is shorter and straighter, allowing bacteria to travel up into the bladder more easily.”

Can stress and anxiety cause UTIs?

The short answer is no. There’s no research that proves that high stress can directly cause a UTI. However, that doesn’t mean the two aren’t linked at all.

“Our sympathetic nervous system is activated by stress and this stress response is associated with weakened immunity”, Dr Wallace-Hor explains.

“This is often why we’re more prone to infection, or flares of infections, such as cold sores when we’re “run down” and stressed. This is worth bearing in mind, particularly if you’re prone to getting UTIs.”

Can you prevent stress-induced UTIs?

It may sound obvious, but preventing stress-induced UTIs is all about learning how to reduce your stress levels.

For most, this is easier said than done and in today’s day and age, we’ll dare say it is impossible to completely avoid stress. However, there are simple ways to manage it and reduce risk factors:

  • Try meditation or breathing exercises. Even just a few minutes daily can help you feel more grounded.
  • Move your body. Yoga is a great relaxing option, but if you prefer high-intensity workouts, go for it. As long as it pumps up your endorphins, it will help your mental health.
  • Opt for healthy, nutritious meals. You are what you eat and so is your mind.
  • Rest. When you don’t get enough (and adequate) sleep, you feel tired, and when you feel tired, you’re more likely to feel stressed. Create a healthy sleep routine and break this cycle.
  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. They may seem like an easy way to escape stress, but they don’t help with what’s most important: addressing the root cause of your feelings.
  • Do something that brings you joy every day. Maybe it’s reading, crocheting or riding a bike. Whatever it is, carve out some “me” time to do something you know will make you happy.

Additionally, stay hydrated, steer clear of vaginal hygiene products, always pee after sex, and wipe from front to back after going to the bathroom. This will all help you keep UTIs at bay, stress-induced or otherwise.

How do I know if I have a UTI?

According to Dr Wallace-Hor, simple bladder infections can cause symptoms like:

  • Cloudy or smelly urine
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Burning or stinging when urinating
  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling the need to urinate urgently
  • Blood in urine 

“These usually resolve quickly with antibiotic therapy. Keeping well hydrated and using simple painkillers like paracetamol will also help,” she explains.

“Symptoms that suggest you might have a more complicated UTI include pain in your side or back, nausea or vomiting, fever, chills or severe fatigue.”

It’s also worth noting that common signs of a UTI can sometimes overlap with other conditions: “If you have some UTI symptoms but are also experiencing symptoms like a vaginal itch, changes in vaginal discharge or painful sex, you should see your GP to exclude other infections, like thrush or sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia.”

Finally, if stress and anxiety have become constants in your life, and no relaxation techniques seem to work, consider opening up to a mental health professional. They’ll help you identify your triggers and equip you with coping mechanisms to lower your stress levels.

Source link

Veröffentlicht am

Is vaginal discharge normal? Here’s what your discharge is telling you

Changes in the colour, texture or amount of discharge can sometimes indicate an underlying issue. Here’s how to know what’s considered normal and how to tell when something might be amiss. 

While it is completely normal to have discharge, the colour can tell you a lot about your health. From pregnancy to STIs and yeast infections, different colours can indicate different things.

But we know that learning the ins and outs of your vaginal discharge can be confusing, not to mention slightly embarrassing to talk about. So, we enlisted the help of Dr Kirsty Wallace-Hor, a GP at Kin Fertility, to help you understand what’s healthy and what may be a sign of an underlying condition.

Like what you see? Sign up to our newsletter for more stories like this.

What is considered normal discharge?

“Normal vaginal discharge usually appears at puberty – about 6-12 months before periods begin – and is reduced with menopause due to the rise in oestrogen in the reproductive years,” Dr Wallace-Hor explains. 

“Normal vaginal discharge includes secretions from the cells lining the cervix, normal vaginal flora, and old cells lining the vagina” and although it “varies from person to person, it’s typically white or clear and either has no or a mild odour.”

But what if your discharge isn’t clear or white? What if it smells fishy or you’re suddenly producing a lot more than usual? “Changes in the colour, texture or amount of vaginal discharge can sometimes indicate an underlying issue,” which is why understanding the rainbow of discharge is so important.

White discharge

Usually, white discharge is nothing to be concerned about. It is typically thinner in the days leading up to ovulation and then thickens up when you start ovulating – and more often than not, it is perfectly normal and healthy.

The same can’t be said about white discharge that’s accompanied by symptoms like clumps, a bad smell, or irritation: “Thrush infections can cause thick, white and usually odourless discharge that can have a cottage cheese appearance. Bacterial vaginosis can cause a thin white or grey discharge which can lead to a fishy odour that is worse after sex.”

Thin, white discharge can also be an early sign of pregnancy, so it’s one to look out for if you’ve been trying for a baby.

Clear discharge

Again, perfectly normal and healthy in most women. Clear discharge is a natural way for your vagina to clean itself and maintain its pH balance, and it is particularly common during ovulation, the time of the month when you’re most fertile.

Red or brown discharge

“Red, brown or pink discharge can indicate bleeding, which you might see during your period, or in the middle of the menstrual cycle during ovulation,” says Dr Wallace-Hor.

It can also indicate an STI, pelvic inflammatory disease, trauma to the vaginal area or, very rarely, cancer. Additionally, if you’re expecting, red or brown discharge could be a sign of pregnancy complications, including a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

If you’re not on your period and experience red or brown discharge, you reach out to your doctor as soon as possible.

Pink discharge

Similarly to red discharge, pink discharge can indicate bleeding. If it is light spotting, it may be implantation bleeding, which occurs when a fertilised egg implants in the uterus, meaning that you’re pregnant. Other possible causes include hormonal changes due to ovulation or menopause, yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, or STIs.

Pink vaginal discharge can also happen as a result of cervical polyps, which are small growths on the cervix that are usually benign and easy to remove.

Whatever the case may be, talk to your doctor if you experience pink discharge.

Yellow or green discharge

Finally, yellow and green are two of the most concerning discharge colours. If accompanied by a fishy odour, yellow or green discharge may suggest bacterial vaginosis; whereas if it comes with itchiness, burning, painful urination, or abdominal pain, it can be a symptom of an STI like gonorrhoea, chlamydia or trichomoniasis.

Left untreated, infections like these can lead to more serious health problems, so make sure you talk to your doctor as soon as possible to receive the appropriate treatment.

“It’s important to understand that vaginal discharge is normal. Unfortunately, a lot of “feminine hygiene” products prey on people’s insecurities about discharge and odour,” Dr Wallace-Hor recognises.

“However, these products muck around with the vagina’s ecosystem – with its fine balance of good bacteria – and can increase the pH of the vagina. Even excess cleaning with water on its own – for example, douching – can be problematic. The result is increased infections and irritation, which can ironically lead to increased discharge.

“It’s good to know what’s normal for you. If you notice any changes in colour, texture or smell, particularly if you have other symptoms, like vaginal itch, abnormal bleeding, painful sex, or painful urination, you should check in with your GP.”

Source link