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UTI while traveling: How Not To Get One

*consult your doctor before taking any new kind of UTI medication, for realz. I’m not a doctor. Repeat: I am not a doctor.

If you’re unsure about whether you’ve ever had a Urinary Tract Infection, I can tell you right away the answer is ‘no’.

The answer is ‘no’ because, believe me, you would know it if you did have a UTI, like in the same way you would know if a tribe of thumb-sized humans had decided to set up camp and light their little fires directly in your underpants. Or in the same way you would know if you’d had oral sex performed on you by a giant jalapeño pepper. Or the same way you would know if all the world’s volcanoes erupted at once and the only place for the lava to exit was directly through your vagina.

UTIs are not fun. It was not fun when I got my first one when I was in high school, on a train ride halfway between home and the city on what was intended to be a carefree day at the markets.

It was not fun when I was 21 in Bali, crying hysterically on the toilet.

Nor was it fun when I woke up last year with one while staying in my boyfriends mothers house in Guatemala. When the entire family, including his sister, his dad and his niece and nephew found out I was in pain every time I peed.  When they started calling the extended-family for advice in rapid-fire Spanish and I could hear them in the living room. It wasn’t fun when someone said I should just put ice down there to cool myself down and maybe it’s because I’m “too horny.” (What can I say, boyfriends parents, I’m a big fan of your work.)

So how can we avoid a visit from el Diablo de Fuego?

The Lowdown on UTIs

Occurring mostly in women, the elderly or babies, around half of all women will get a UTI least one in their lives while only one in twenty men will. Most are caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), a type of bacteria commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract. However, sometimes other bacteria are responsible.

Basically it’s an infection anywhere along the urinary tract bacteria, though most infections involve the bladder and urethra. and if you get one, you’re gonna have a bad time.

Symptoms can be:

·  Burning sensation when peeing or constantly (remember; if it feels like a giant jalapeño pepper is going down on you.)

· The feeling of needing to pee but not being able to

· Needing to pee constantly

· Fever (in serious cases)

· Blood in the urine (in serious cases)

What causes them?

UTI’s are a real thing that can spring on any unsuspecting traveler.

  • If you’re in a hot, humid, tropical climate

 

  • If you surf a lot in a places where the water is pretty contaminated, especially during rainy season when torrential rain forces all the filthy water river right into the ocean (yeah… that’s like, other people’s poop particles getting in there. Yummy.)

 

  • You travel cheap, and are sitting on hot chicken busses or on sweaty tourist shuttles, holding your pee in for hours because the driver ain’t slowing down for nobody. Leaving it stretches the bladder which in turn makes it hard for the bladder to completely empty. When it doesn’t empty and urine sits in the bladder for an extended amount of time that’s when things get funky and BAM- UTI.

 

  • If you don’t drink enough water. Water helps dilute pee and continually flushes stuff out. Keep drinking.

 

  • If you decide to take a lover for a leisurely rumble in the down-belows (i.e, fuck) and don’t take the prep before and after to  make sure both of you are pristine. Female urethras are shorter than mens, making it easier for bacteria to creep in from around the vagina and vuvla during sex. Some female friends have told me they don’t feel comfortable telling their bed partners to clean up before because it, you know, kills the moment.  You know what else kills the moment? Waking up at midnight in crippling pain cause bacteria has crept into your urinary tract. If they’re not comfortable with you saying ‘wash your dick (or vagina) and hands first, please’ you shouldn’t be comfortable with them playing with your front-bum.

 

  • Certain types of birth control: if you use a diaphragm you can be more susceptible. But I’d say DON’T LET THIS STOP YOU cause diaphragms, to me, are the best form of birth control I’ve found.

Prevention (shit I’ve tried and stuff that has worked for me. I’m not a doctor.)

Water, water, water.

Keep it flowing all day.

Shower after surf.

Change out of your bikini as soon as possible. Don’t be all running around in wet bikinis all day, you reckless hooligan.)

Be meticulous with your hygiene, especially if you’re traveling in humid climates. Make sure your bed partners are meticulous with their hygiene.

Always pee after sex.

Preferably shower and drink water too.

People say drink cranberry juice.

but that’s been proven to be a myth. I don’t know. It’s never worked for me. If you can find Rosa de Jamaica (found in Latin America) you can make another tea with that. That has worked better for me. You can find it at most supermarkets. According to these guys some people drink this brightly red tea for its presumably antimicrobial properties in the treatment of urinary tract infections (UTI) due to the anthocyanin (an antioxidant) it contains.

D-mannose supplements

This stuff is the bomb. According to the Kresser Institute D-mannose is effective because it attaches to E. coli bacteria, causing them to stick to each other and preventing them from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. The bacteria can then easily be eliminated from the body during urination. Try it.

Macrodantin

This was another recommendation of from a mother-of-four who lived in the same town I did. When I was using this I had no problems with UTI’s. The drawback is it is an antibiotic, even if it is a low level, and being constantly on antibiotic kind of freaks me out a bit.

And if you’ve got one and you can’t shake it…

Antibiotics

If there’s nothing else you can do, get on the antibiotics. Note, if you’re somewhere like Australia, you’d need to go to the doctor to get a prescription first. If you’re traveling in more underdeveloped countries, you can usually buy them cheap over the counter at any pharmacy. Beware that if you use a strong antibiotic, you might wipe out ALL bacteria and as a result, get a yeast infection afterwords (which will require MORE medication.) But, you gotta do what you gotta do.

 

Feature Image: The Pink Lemonade 

About the Author:

Caitlin is a journalist and writer from Australia. She’s into collecting and sharing the stories of other human people. Mostly women’s stories. You can find her at @caitlincreeper

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