Several things can cause a UTI. We know that it is important to pee before and after sex, wipe properly after you pee (front to back!), and avoid excess moisture in your genital area. But what happens when you add birth control to the equation? Let’s take a look at the relationship between birth control and urinary tract infections.
Can birth control cause a UTI?
First and foremost, it has not been found that birth control causes UTIs, but research has shown that some forms of birth control can increase your risk of getting one. The primary way that birth control can increase your risk of a UTI is by disrupting your vaginal pH balance.
Your vaginal pH balance measures how acidic your vagina is and compares the good bacteria to the bad bacteria. Your vagina is naturally full of good bacteria that work to keep your pH levels balanced. When your vaginal pH is high (above 4.5), unhealthy bacteria may grow and cause an infection.
Many things can disrupt your natural pH levels, including certain forms of birth control. Sometimes, birth control can destroy the good bacteria that live in your vagina and cause an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, like E.coli. This overgrowth of harmful bacteria increases the risk of a UTI.
If you suspect you may have a UTI, contact your primary care provider immediately for assessment and treatment.
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Which types of birth control may increase your risk of a UTI?
Certain forms of birth control increase the risk of UTI development more than others. One form of contraception that has been linked to an increased risk of a UTI is a diaphragm. Diaphragms are reusable cups placed over the cervix, creating a barrier between the uterus and sperm. Diaphragms put pressure against your urethra and make it harder to empty your bladder, giving bacteria more time to grow. Additionally, diaphragms are commonly paired with spermicides, a chemical used to kill sperm that also kill off the protective bacteria in the vagina. This creates an imbalance in your pH balance and can increase the growth of harmful bacteria, increasing the chance of getting a UTI.
IUDs, NuvaRings, the Depo-Provera shot, the patch, and Nexplanon have not been linked to an increased risk of UTIs. While some women experience an increased frequency of UTIs while on the birth control pill, studies have shown that birth control pills don’t normally increase your chances of getting a UTI.
What increases your risk of developing a UTI?
Unfortunately, several things can cause a UTI. UTIs happen when bacteria enter the urethra, travel up the urinary tract, and multiply. As the bacteria spread, your urinary tract becomes inflamed and infected. 90% of the time, this bacteria is E. coli. E. coli normally lives without harm in our intestinal tract but becomes harmful once it enters the urinary tract.
The most common cause of a UTI is improper wiping after going to the bathroom and sexual intercourse. It’s important to always wipe front to back to avoid spreading bacteria from the anus to the urethra. During sex, bacteria from either partner can be introduced to the other’s body and travel up the urethra into the bladder. Peeing right before and after sex helps eliminate bacteria in the urinary tract and reduces its spread.
UTIs are most common in the summertime for a few reasons. First, swimming pools and hot tubs allow germs and bacteria to float around and reach your body. Additionally, wearing a wet bathing suit or clothing creates moisture near your urethra and breeds bacteria. Similarly, if you’re sweating more near your underwear during the summer, you’re more likely to develop a UTI. Finally, dehydration in the summer leads to less urination and makes it harder for your body to fight off an infection in the urethra.
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Once you’ve got a UTI, you’re more likely to get a second at some point in your life. According to Harvard Health, 25-30% of women with a UTI will get another one within six months of the first one. Recurring UTIs can result from several things including poor vaginal health, improper wiping, and menopause. Additionally, certain genetic factors and health conditions might, unfortunately, cause you to be especially prone to UTIs.
We constantly find ourselves asking questions about our bodies and our health, but can never be sure which answers we can trust. At Stix, we hope to provide you with those answers. For more information like this, check out the Stix Library or send us your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.