There’s nothing quite like realizing you have a UTI. The burning sensation when you pee, running to the bathroom every other minute, turning to cranberry juice to relieve the pain — you know the drill. Now imagine having a UTI while pregnant. Today, Stix is talking about UTIs during pregnancy, what causes them, and how to treat them.
What's a UTI?
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur when bacteria enters the urinary system through the urethra. UTIs are more common with vulvas because they have shorter urethras, making it easier for bacteria to enter. Sex, pregnancy, and wiping back to front also can cause UTIs as they can increase the amount of bacteria in the area. E. coli is the most common bacteria associated with UTIs and can grow in the lower urinary tract.
While sex is the most well known cause of a UTI, it isn’t the only one. UTIs can also form as a result of dehydration, menopause, and too much sugar intake. Additionally, pregnancy can increase the chances of developing a UTI.
Symptoms of UTIs during pregnancy
Every UTI is different, but there are a few common symptoms in all UTIs. First, it will hurt to pee. The severity of the pain depends on how infected the urinary tract is. The burning is caused by an irritation to the lining of the urinary tract by bacteria. Second, UTIs can make you have the urge to pee constantly, and when you try, nothing comes out. This is because pain your bladder is telling your brain that you need to urinate, even if your bladder is empty. Third, UTIs can cause your urine to be dark, cloudy, and sometimes bloody. You can have a UTI during pregnancy without experiencing any symptoms, though you may experience regular symptoms.
What Causes UTI in Pregnancy?
If you are pregnant and think you might have a UTI, don’t panic. Anywhere between 2-10% of pregnant people will experience a UTI and those who do experience one have a 1 in 3 chance of getting another. UTIs are common during pregnancy because the baby can put pressure on the bladder and trap bacteria in the urinary tract. Additionally, the urinary tract expands during pregnancy, making it easier for bacteria to enter and a UTI to form. Finally, pregnancy causes your urine to contain more hormones and sugar, putting your body at a higher risk for a UTI.
UTI during pregnancy treatment
Treating a UTI during pregnancy looks a little bit different than when you’re not pregnant. Most of the time, your primary care provider will prescribe you a pregnancy-safe antibiotic to take for 7-10 days to treat the infection. If your UTI progresses into a kidney infection, however, stronger antibiotics will be required and sometimes an IV for more serious cases.
While pregnancy-safe antibiotics work well to treat UTIs, many people are nervous about taking a new antibiotic while pregnant. If you have this concern, there are plenty of natural ways to treat a UTI without taking antibiotics. Drinking plenty of water speeds up the UTI recovery as it makes it harder for bacteria to reach the cells in the urinary tract. Additionally, cranberry juice is a well-established natural UTI treatment because it contains a lot of antioxidants with antibacterial properties.
Azo is a common medicine used for urinary tract health that is effective in helping treat UTIs outside of pregnancy. The research on whether Azo products should be taken during pregnancy is inconclusive, but be sure to talk to your primary care specialist if you are thinking about it. Research also advises to steer clear from Azo while breastfeeding, as the safety of the drug while breastfeeding has not yet been established.
UTIs are the worst. During pregnancy, they can be even more scary and uncomfortable, so we hope this information helped navigate this part of your journey. For more on all things on your health, head to the Stix Library.