Urinary Tract Infection Myths Debunked
By Dave Smith
Feb 23, 2022
With over half of women experiencing a urinary tract infection (UTI) at least once in their lifetime, it's no surprise that the internet is flooded with information on this condition. The problem with this abundance of information is that it's tough to figure out what is reliable, what is just someone's experience and what is clickbait. So, we're breaking down the most common statements we can find on the web, to look at what is fact, and what is pure fiction.
Only women can get UTIs
False. Though they are far more common in women than in men, men can still get a UTI. UTIs are more common in women as the distance between the back passage and urethra is far shorter,therefore there is a higher chance of bacteria translocating.
Sex causes UTIs
False. UTIs are caused by bacteria in the urethra, while sex and sexual activities do not cause UTIs they can increase the presence of bacteria in and around the urethra which may then lead to an infection. For this reason women are advised to urinate (if possible) after a sexual encounter, potentially reducing the risk of bacteria remaining in the urethra.
Cranberry juice can prevent or resolve a UTI
False. Cranberry juice is very popular among those with UTIs and there is science behind this. An active component of cranberry juice, D-mannose, has been extensively researched and has beneficial effects in reducing the occurrence and severity of UTIs. Cranberry Juice contain a tiny amount of D-Mannose and is also acidic, and this acidity can in some cases increase the severity of an infection.
UTIs are caused by poor hygiene
False. Good hygiene is important, but unfortunately remaining clean isn't a sure-fire way to avoid aurinary tract infection.
Only adults can get UTIs
False. A urinary tract infection can occur in babies and children, just as with adults. Particularly if an infant is born with any complications in their urinary tract, this risk increases.
Birth control can increase risk of UTI
True. The contraceptive diaphragm can increase the risk of UTIs due to the pressure it applies on the bladder, in addition to this they are used alongside spermicide which can alter the vaginal pH and disturb the balance of beneficial bacteria in the vagina which can proceed to influence the urinary tract.
You can diagnose a UTI through the colour of urine
False. It is a common assumption that the appearance of urine is a key indicator of a UTI, as a symptom of an infection is cloudy urine. However, the colour and odour can be heavily influenced by food and drink consumption, or even dehydration.
Presence of bacteria in urine is enough for a UTI diagnosis
False. As with everywhere in our body, there is a level of pathogenic bacteria that we are able to withstand without having an infection. If a microscopic examination of urine shows the presence of pathogenic bacteria below the threshold and there are no symptoms of infection, then the body should be able to excrete the pathogenic bacteria without the need for intervention.
Your choice of underwear matters.
True. While your underwear choice won't outright cause a UTI, it can increase the risk if you are prone to an infection and prolong the symptoms once an infection is present. This is due to the environment certain underwear provides, the natural fibres in cotton underwear are breathable allowing genitals to remain dry however synthetic fibres, such as nylon and lycra, can trap moisture and heat which encourages the growth of pathogenic bacteria and yeast.
Urinary tract infections are common during pregnancy
True. Bladder infections are highly common in pregnant women as the uterus applies increasing pressure on the bladder and hormonal changes lead to relaxed muscles, increasing urine retention time and opportunity for bacteria to grow.
You can stop taking antibiotics once the symptoms have gone.
False. If you require an antibiotic to fight the infection you should take the full course of antibiotics even if the symptoms disappear before you have completed it. While the symptoms may have gone there may still be a small presence of bacteria that have not yet been managed and stopping treatment too soon will allow them to multiply and potentially even create a resistance to antibiotics. Always speak to a medical professional if you have any questions about antibiotics.
Probiotics / Live Bacteria Supplements can support urinary tract health
True. The urinary tract is the host to a microbiome, a perfect balance of beneficial bacteria that support the health and maintain the function of this system. It supports self-cleaning and manages many types of pathogenic bacteria that find their way into the urethra. Introducing probiotics alongside or after antibiotics can also reduce their negative side effects, such as wiping out the presence of beneficial bacteria along with the infection-causing bacteria.