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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Bladder Infections
March 2000

Q. I am 28 years old and have had the same boyfriend for several years. It seems that I have been getting more frequent bladder infections, especially after sex. Is there something I can do to decrease these infections?

A. Urinary tract infections are much more common in women than men due to the differing anatomy, with women having a short urethra (tube from the bladder to where the urine exits). The usual bacteria that cause this are located around the anal area and especially with mechanical factors like sex, this bacteria can be more easily relocated to around the urethra and work its way up into the bladder.

Pain and burning with urination and increase frequency of urination are the classic symptoms. Eventually, the bacteria can work its way up into the kidney (Pyelonephritis). This can be more serious and often also causes a fever and flank pain (pain around the low side/back).

Fortunately, these infections usually can be readily cured with oral antibiotics. Due to the frequency of infections in your case, it may be prudent to do a kidney ultrasound, just to make sure that no evidence of obstruction exists, such as kidney stones, which can increase the risk of infections. Of course urine analysis and cultures should be done.

Also, proper hygiene is important such as always wiping the genital area from front to back, and promptly urinating after intercourse. Also, you may be a candidate to take an antibiotic pill, one dose after each intercourse. These measures should significantly reduce your risk of recurrent urinary infections.

Good Luck.

For more info: Bladder Health Council American Foundation for Urologic Disease: 1-800-242-2383

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