Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About UTIs*
When you have a urinary tract infection, something feels very, very wrong down there. There’s a burning or stinging sensation when you pee, dull aching in your lower back, and in some cases you may be urinating blood.
If you’re a woman, odds are you’re going to have at least one in your lifetime, and middle-aged women are more likely to get the infection than men by a ratio of 30 to one. There are an estimated 150 million UTI cases around the world, according to the American Urological Association, and they cost about $6 billion to treat.
So why are they more common in the fairer sex? It’s simple anatomy. Because of how short our urethras are (the tube that connects the bladder to the outside world,) it’s easier for bad bacteria to enter the body and wreak havoc on the bladder and kidneys. Men, on the other hand, have urethras that extend all the way to the tip of their penises, which gives bacteria a harder road to climb.
Beyond urethra length, there’s another reason women get infections more often than men: The physical act of sex makes it easier for bacteria from the colon to travel to the urethra and find its way into our bodies.
“Sexual intercourse increases trauma to the reproductive tract, [which] makes that damaged tissue more susceptible to invasion by any sort of pathogenic bacteria,” explained Dr. Deborah Wing, an OB/GYN professor at University of California, Irvine. Another way of putting it: “The fun house is so close to the outhouse.”