Down There Care

UTIs: “I Burn For You”

By Gabi Powell Jillian LoPiano, MD Vyshnavi Pottepalli Lindsey Lavoie, WHNP

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Around 50-60% of women will experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) in their lifetime. Meaning, there’s a good chance you’ve had one! Your roommate’s probably had one. The same goes for your grandmother. There’s a high probability the stranger in front of you at checkout has had one!

But if UTIs are so common amongst Betties, what can we do to prevent infection so we can leave the burn behind?



To cut to the chase, a UTI occurs when bacteria travel up the urethra and into the bladder.

Betties are more prone to these infections than penis-havers due to shorter urethras positioned closer to the anus, making it easier for bacteria to make their way to the bladder. This easy commute means the infection can result from a range of things: holding your pee, sexual activity, or simply wiping the wrong way, which is why a range of Betties are affected. How often and how intense one’s infection is entirely specific to a Betty’s anatomy and/or sexual activity.



There are many different symptoms but some of them include but are not limited to:

Basically, a UTI will let you know when it’s arrived and it’s time to seek treatment. Left untreated, an infection can travel up to the kidney and do some serious damage! So, as always, Betties, listen when your body is trying to tell you something’s not quite right.



Getcha self to your provider and let them know your symptoms which will flag a possible infection. From there, they’ll confirm with an in-office urine analysis and order a urine culture to ensure you’re being treated with the right antibiotic.

For all that burning, treating a urinary tract infection is a breeze, Betties! Most often, a short course of antibiotics will do the trick and you should feel some relief within 48 hours. While you wait on those antibiotics to kick in, you can ask your provider for a Pyridium prescription or pick up some over-the-counter AZO to relieve some discomfort (Don’t be alarmed if these meds turn your pee bright orange, all indicative of them getting to work!). Let’s give it up for modern medicine! *slow clap*



Remember, a UTI presents differently in every Betty – unique to anatomy + sexual activity – so prevention isn’t a prescriptive science. But we’ve got multilevel strategies to fend off an infection:

The Essentials
• Give it a go…like, literally. Pee when you have to. Don’t hold your stream!
• Wipe front to back (AKA, wipe vagina to the butthole)
• Chuuuuuuug that water
• Pee after sex
• Cranberry tabs (Psst: The data to support cranberry’s UTI-fighting powers is mixed, but if they work for you, by all means, cran away!)

Next Steps
• You may need to steer clear of foods that cause irritation: alcoholic drinks, carbonated drinks, caffeine, spicy foods, chocolate (*wipes away tear*), apples, grapes, citrus fruits, onions, and tomatoes! Before you cut any food groups out, always consult with your doctor first.
• Avoid things that personally cause you vaginitis, such as bubble baths, scented products, or pads, to avoid confusion about symptoms.

Deep Cuts
• If you’re prone to UTIs and use a diaphragm or spermicidal jelly for contraception, chat with your provider about possibly making a switch. While these methods are perfectly safe, they may be irritative for some Betties’ bodies.
• If you’re UTI frequent flyer (3+ infections per year), your provider might recommend pivoting to Plan B: prophylactic antibiotic therapy which can be taken daily or before sex to prevent infection.

A UTI might be NBD, but it’s no less important to seek treatment if you’ve got the symptoms, Betties! With simple antibiotics and prevention strategies, that burning sensation can be gone! *sigh* The only thing I want to burn for me is the Duke of Hastings.




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