Why does it hurt when I pee? It’s been happening for about two weeks on and off. I’ve had sex and forgot to use the bathroom right away. How can I stop myself from feeling like this?
Pain when you pee is the worst, and it’s also not uncommon – we’ve all been there at one point or another. This is a medical issue, and since I’m not a doctor and just an awesome advice-giver (if I do say so myself), I’m going to pass this one along to our friend Dr. Sherry Ross from HelloFlo (a monthly period care package you need to check out). She can give a little online medical assistance, and let us all know how to handle this in the future.
Dr. Ross says, “The most common reason you have pain when you pee is that you have a urinary tract infection as a result of having sex. Urinary traction infections (UTIs) are really common in women. 15 percent of women get UTIs in their lifetime and 2.5 percent will have recurrent UTIs.
“The female anatomy is a set up for infections of the bladders. The bladder and its tubing, called the urethra, sit directly along the length of the vagina. Urine exits the body through this very short tube. The opening of the urethra is a tiny hole right above the entrance into the vagina. During vaginal intercourse, bacteria from the vagina and rectum can easily find its way into the urethra and the bladder, causing a urinary tract infection. Peeing after sex helps remove any bacteria that might have made their way into the urethra and bladder. When you urinate, it helps unwanted bacteria leave the body and become less likely to multiply in the bladder, causing an infection. It used to be recommended to pee before sex, but now we know this is a misconception and doesn’t help prevent UTIs.
“Symptoms of a UTI can develop within 24 hours of having intercourse if bacteria end up where it should not be. Symptoms of a UTI include:
• Pain or burning with urination
• An urgency to urinate frequently but only passing a very small amount of urine
• Pain in you lower belly
• Urine looks red, pink, cloudy and has a bad odor
• Pain in your lower back
• Fever and chills
• Nausea and vomiting”
Sex isn’t the only culprit, though. There are other things that can cause a urinary tract infection. Dr. Ross says, “There are many causes of UTIs, including sex, spermicides, frequent antibiotic use, anatomical problems, genetic risks, and menopause.”
Can you prevent UTIs from happening? You can! Here’s how, according to Dr. Ross:
• Practicing good hygiene
• Urinating right after sex.
• Using Probiotics and cranberry tablets
• Avoiding spermicides
• Avoid frequent antibiotic use
• Vaginal hormonal estrogen therapy if menopausal
Here are some tips to help you avoid getting a urinary tract infection after sex:
1. It’s best to urinate after intercourse.
2. A general rule of thumb is to urinate every 2-3 hours or when you first feel the urge. Don’t hold in your urine for long periods of time.
3. The cleaner you and your partner’s genitals are the better. This also includes washing your hands (and nails) if you plan on having any contact with the genital area.
4. Avoid excessive salvia, spermicides and lubricants in the genital area.
5. Avoid using a diaphragm, vaginal sponge, diva cup and sex toys if you are prone to UTI’s.
6. Avoid using feminine products that use perfumes and other irritating chemicals that bring disruptive bacteria. Don’t douche!
7. Always remember to wipe “front to back” to avoid bringing unwanted bacteria from the anus to the vaginal area.
8. Wear underwear with a cotton crotch.
9. For recurrent UTI sufferers, you can take an antibiotic before intercourse to prevent future infections.
10. For women in menopause, vaginal estrogen can help hydrate the vagina making the tissue less prone to a UTI.
11. Stay hydrated! Drink a lot of water to help keep urine and any unwanted bacteria moving out of your body quickly.
12. It can’t hurt to drink cranberry juice to help prevent UTI’s but the research is inconsistent on whether it truly helps.
Dr. Ross adds: “Sometimes it can be tricky to know if you have a UTI, since symptoms can be subtle and not typical. If you think something is up down there, see your health care provider to rule out a potentially dangerous unsuspecting UTI.”
I’d like to add a few things: first, while a UTI is the likely culprit of the pain when you pee, it’s not ALWAYS a UTI. This recently happened to me, and I assumed it was a UTI. But when I went to my gyno, she told me it was actually a bacterial infection. Sometimes, the symptoms can be the same. Second: if you feel like you’re starting to get a UTI, you can drink a lot of water and some cranberry juice to flush it out of your system. This will help with the pain! Third: see a doctor whenever you feel pain when peeing. All of this advice is extremely helpful, but a UTI needs to be treated with medication that only a doctor can give you. Now, go forth, and pee happily! Or something.