Maybe you're in a brand new relationship, you just went on a romantic trip with your spouse, or you're dating long-distance and finally saw your partner. Whatever your reason for having a sex-filled weekend, it can come with one unfortunate side effect: a urinary tract infection.
If you often get these annoying and painful infections at one of the above times, you're not alone. In fact, experts even have a colloquial name for it: honeymoon cystitis. It might sound cute, but it's the same awful UTI you're used to. Experts just coined this term to explain the tendency for women to contract the infection after sexÃ¢â‚¬”particularly after a lot of sex.
"The urethraÃ¢â‚¬”the tube that goes from outside up into the bladderÃ¢â‚¬”is literally right next to the vagina," says ob-gyn Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor at the Yale School of Medicine. When you have sex, bacteria from the vagina can get rubbed into the urethra, where it travels up to the bladder. And when you have a lot of sex in a short period of time, it can make you more susceptible to these infections.
One common theory is that your body isn't used to the bacteria you're exposed to from a new partner, but Minkin says that's probably not the case. In fact, it's usually your own bacteria that cause the infection. So it's not your new partner that's upsetting your vaginaÃ¢â‚¬”it's the fact that you had sex with him three times last night.
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So what can you do about it? Minkin suggests plenty of lubrication to prevent any tears or irritation, which can make infections more likely. Peeing before and after sex can also help. If you're prone to UTIs, taking cranberry extract on a regular basis can help. "Cranberry actually keeps the bacteria from sticking to the wall of the bladder," says Minkin. And when they adhere to bladder, that's when you get an infection. Your doctor may also prescribe an antibiotic that you can take each time you have sex, which will deliver a high level of antibodies to the urine (though not to your blood stream, so you won't get a yeast infection). They could also prescribe you a low-dose of antibiotics to take on a daily basis for a few months to see if it changes the flora in your vagina.
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But if you have more than handful of UTIs per year, Minkin suggests checking in with a urologist to see if there's something going on in your bladder that's making you more susceptible to infections. Don't worryÃ¢â‚¬”your doctor will have plenty of solutions that are less drastic than toning down your libido. "If you get frequent UTIs, go to your doctorÃ¢â‚¬”you don't have to stop having sex!" says Minkin.
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