Ever since I got a kidney infection that landed me in the emergency room because it went toxic, I have been plagued with urinary tract infections and bladder infections. Since I have a freakish pain tolerance, I likely had my kidney infection as a minor urinary tract infection and didn’t notice any symptoms until I woke up (in my fiance’s mother’s house, after meeting her for the first time, of course) in the most excruciating pain of my life and was pissing urine that looked like tomato soup. I refused to go to the doctor, so my fiance drove me home from Wyoming to Salt Lake where I was living at the time, and dragged me into the emergency room (carried me, because I couldn’t walk), where they immediately hooked me up to IVs and antibiotics and had to give me tranquilizers to make my heart rate slow down (they kept asking me if I was on Speed).
After that lovely ordeal, and $1200 later, I seem to get UTIs or a bladder infection every few months, where I had never had any female issues in my entire life prior to my kidney infection. The ER doctors told me that not drinking enough water, consuming a lot of alcohol, caffeine, and not urinating after sex likely caused my kidney infection. That, and I ignored (didn’t notice) any symptoms until it got entirely out of control. So ladies, pay attention to your pH so you don’t let your bodies get out of whack and end up in the ER like I did.
First off, drink lots of water. All I did at the time was drink alcohol, and more alcohol, and this depletes water out of your system. Also, urinate often. I don’t urinate nearly as often as I should, and often go 8 or more hours without using the restroom, which is what gave me a bladder infection a few months ago. Leaving stagnant pee in your system allows bacteria to store in your urethra and bladder, leading to various female problems. My doctor told me to urinate several times a day, even just a trinkle.
Urinate after sex. After my scary kidney infection, I make sure to always pee after bumping uglies, to flush out bodily fluids and keep my pH at a normal balance. Also, if using lubes or sex toys, make sure to have them super clean before using them and wash them immediately after sex. I keep baby wipes handy for a good wipe down of my own body if I am not going to shower right away, just for extra measure. Be careful during sex to keep any touching of the anus to transfer to the vagina to avoid spreading bacteria to your no-no zone.
If you drink a lot of coffee (like I do) or if you drink a lot of alcohol (like I DID), get your water consumption in. A dehydrated body releases little urine, and it’s more concentrated and can irritate your lady parts and can lead to bladder infections, UTIs, and kidney infections, if you’re not careful. Urinate even if you don’t have to go to get that urine out and help prevent pH imbalance.
Drink lots of cranberry juice. I always have cranberry juice handy, and those cranberry pills you can buy at the store for the tell-tale signs of a UTI coming on. I have purchased AZO pills for pH balance and take those when I remember. Cranberry juice works wonders because it keeps bacteria from adhering to your bladder and vaginal lining, and flushes that stuff out. Vitamin C supplements also help to keep female issues at bay.
Shower rather than bathing, to avoid having bacteria find its way into your vaginal openings when you cleanse yourself. Avoid douching, which can irritate the urethra and lead to a UTI. For that matter, avoid all scented female products and lotions, creams, etc around your vagina to keep UTIs and other infections at bay.
Wear comfortable, cotton underwear to avoid moisture and sweating irritating you. Bacterial Vaginosis is no fun, and is often caused by constricting underwear. I wear cotton panties every day and cotton boy shorts- thongs and frilly panties are a thing of the past.
Pay attention to your body! Itchiness, burning when you pee, redness in and around the vagina, anal burning, and very dark urine and frequency to pee, plus cramping and aching in your stomach or lower back can all be signs of something going amok inside your system. Don’t ignore these signs, and call your doctor to see what you need to do to prevent a real issue. Your lymph nodes along your inner thigh right next to your vagina can also become swollen, indicating infection.
Don’t assume the problem will go away just because you buy an anti-itch cream or drink a gallon of cranberry juice. If your symptoms don’t improve in a few hours, get to your doctor or a clinic to avoid having a minor issue turn into a full blown attack of some sort.
Don’t be embarrassed if you are prone to vaginal issues. It happens- even with the best of prevention. Antibiotics, lifestyle, and stress, medications, even clothing can cause your pH to go out of whack. The best you can do is try to stay hydrated, pee often, stay clean and dry, and take preventative measures, but if you still get UTI or bladder infections all the time, it doesn’t mean you’re a dirty beast, you may just have a sensitive pH. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to prevent these issues and be honest about what you may be doing to cause them. Your sex life, bathroom habits, clothing that you wear, hygiene, and alcoholic and caffeine consumption should be disclosed. You may get a verbal lashing about not peeing as much as you should (like I always get), but you will find out better ways to take care of your lady parts.
Sources: personal experience
Dr. Ellen Judd, MD (personal doctor, who chewed me out for only peeing twice a day)