Euphoria can be an apt description of the way most people feel on their honey moon. And as newlyweds, they always know that this is a new start to their life and that nothing can go wrong from then on; the optimism soars high above the ceiling and through the roof. There is however a noticeable blemish that comes with intercourse when couples seek to consummate a marriage as witnessed in a substantial number of couples during and soon after their honeymoon that is commonly known as “Honey moon cystitis”.
Honeymoon cystitis can occur when a woman has sexual intercouse for the first time, or when a woman has sex after a long time without any sexual activity. During sexual intercourse, E. coli bacteria which lives on the skin around the anus can be transferred to the urethra. Sexual activity aids the movement of microorganisms (mostly bacteria) up the urinary tract where they cause the most havoc, later manifesting as symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection as bacteria colonises the urinary tract. Honeymoon cystitis remains more common among young women in their twenties although single women in there fifties are increasingly reporting the problem.
Forgetting the diction that surrounds “Honey moon cystitis” and its very strong connection with sexual activity as a predisposing factor and seeking to address the bigger picture of reproductive health, there are many other ways how people would contract urinary tract infections but as a preamble let’s first ascertain some facts.
A urinary tract infection is an infection that affects part of the Urinary tract. When it affects the lower urinary tract, it is known as a bladder infection (Cystitis) and when it affects the upper urinary tract, it’s known as a kidney infection (Pyelonephritis).
Symptoms of lower urinary tract infection include pain with urination, the feeling of the need to urinate despite having an empty bladder. Symptoms of a kidney infection include fever and flank pain usually in addition to symptoms of the lower urinary infection named above.
In the old and very young, symptoms are very vague and maybe non-specific. Studies show that about 150 million people develop a urinary tract infection in a given year. There are more common in women than in men. Up to 10% of women have a urinary tract infection in a given year, and half of women have had at least one infection at some point in their lifetime. The infections have been seen to be more frequent between ages 16 and 35 years.
The risk factors that may predispose individuals to urinary tract infections include:
- The female anatomy which may explains why they are more common in women than in men
- Sexual intercourse,
The management of Urinary tract infections with antibiotics is popular in many society settings but its drawbacks have been largely ignored, the absence of facilities to carry out urinalysis and culture of causative microorganisms in low income countries has led to blind treatment. Blind treatment with broad spectrum antibiotics destroys both the good and bad bacteria and has invited the growth of yeast infections compounding to the already existing health problems.
Nevertheless, remedies have been formulated overtime to alleviate symptoms and limit re occurrences in Urinary Tract Infections and are available over the counter at pharmacies. These maybe safer to use in prevention but might not be used in place of antibiotics in more serious infections.
These formulations include:
- Lactic acid containing washes: Formulations containing lactic acid which maintains the natural PH balance that protects and cares for the intimate female parts help in relieving itching irritations, burning sensation, dryness, vaginal discharge and malodor experienced in women.
- Formulations containing citrates of magnesium, sodium or potassium: These reduce acidity of urine and hence alleviate stinging and painful experiences during urination.
- Cranberry supplements: The hypothesis behind the work of cranberry supplements has largely been that they help prevent the adhesion of strains from Escheria coli (Most common species of bacteria in UTIs) to urethra walls rendering the bacteria ineffective. These have been seen to be ineffective in the treatment but have been of interest in the prevention of UTIs.
The instructions on the use of these formulations can be found on the product or one could ask the dispensing personnel. The safety of the above formulations in pregnancy and in breastfeeding mothers has not been established and it is therefore advisable that on sees their doctor before using them.
The other ways of preventing UTIs include;
- Limiting the use birth control methods that predispose women to UTIs e.g. Diaphragm, un-lubricated condoms or spermicidal jelly.
- Wearing cotton underwear to improve air circulation and absorbability
- Taking showers instead of baths for those prone to UTIs
- Keeping hydrated because the best defense the body has against UTIs in the natural urination that helps in the flushing out of bacteria
In severe or recurrent symptoms, visit your doctor your doctor who will help determine triggers and advice you on the best way to go about treatment.