When hearing about urinary infection many women already think of their most common symptoms, such as frequent urge to pee and a feeling of “burning”.
But it is possible to have infection in any part of the so-called urinary tract, which begins in the kidneys, where urine is produced, continues through the ureter to the bladder and ends in the urethra (a small tube through which pee is eliminated from the body).
Urinary infections are usually caused by bacteria from the skin, vagina or anus that end up passing through the urethra. There are several types of urinary tract infections, such as cystitis (bladder infection).
They are more common in sexually active women in their 20s to 50s — approximately one in five will have at least one such infection during this lifetime.
There are also asymptomatic cases and therefore it is important to take urine during pregnancy. If left untreated, the urinary tract infection can cause a lot of pain and even be dangerous, as it sometimes migrates to the kidney region.
Pregnancy leaves women more susceptible to urinary tract infections because pregnancy hormones loosen the ureter muscles, which slows the flow of urine from the kidneys to the bladder. The same happens as your uterus grows.
With this, bacteria have more time to multiply before being eliminated from the body.
What are the symptoms of urinary tract infection?
It is possible to have urinary tract infection without noticing any symptoms. Therefore it is important to have urine tests to detect the possible presence of bacteria. Or you may feel:
pain or burning when peeing
pain in the pelvis, lower belly, or pain on the side
alternating sensation of heat and cold
frequent and uncontrollable willingness to go to the bathroom
strong smelling urine
change in the amount of urine (for more or less)
blood in the urine
pus in urine
pain during intercourse
Among the signs that may indicate that the infection passed to the kidneys are high fever, tremors, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, headache and constant pain in the area of one or both kidneys.
What happens if I have a urinary tract infection when I’m pregnant?
Antibiotics can be used safely to fight urinary infections during pregnancy. Your doctor will ask for a urine culture test to identify what type of bacteria is causing the problem.
Talk to your gynecologist as soon as you notice any sign of a urinary tract infection. If left untreated, it can lead to a kidney infection, which in turn can cause a premature birth.
Routinely, the obstetrician should order a urine test at the first consultation and one more around half of pregnancy, even if there are no symptoms of infection.
What can I do to prevent urinary tract infections during pregnancy?
It is not always possible to avoid a urinary tract infection. But it is recommended:
Do not hold the pee when you feel like it or after intercourse
After going to the bathroom, clean yourself using toilet paper in the front-to-back direction, to prevent the bacteria from the anus from spreading
Wash every day and after sexual intercourse with mild and perfumeless soap
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
It is possible that you have heard that cranberry juice is good for fighting urinary infection, but there are no scientific conclusions about its effectiveness.
You’d better talk to the doctor if you want to try it.