Urinary Tract Infection
What is that?
Urinary tract infection (UTIs), also called bladder infections, are a common problem for a lot of people. Although anyone could get the infection, girls/women tend to get it more often.
Not everyone with UTIs has symptoms, but most people tend to get a few of the following:
- A sharp burning pain during urination
- Frequent urination—or the urge to urinate a lot
- Cloudy, dark, or bloody urine
- Pain in the back or lower abdomen
Girls Health—How do you get it?
A woman’s urethral opening (which is sterile) is right near two big sources of bacteria: the rectum and the vagina. Bacteria from these areas can move toward the urethra from the rectum if a woman wipes the wrong way after going to the bathroom, and could cause a UTI. During sexual intercourse, bacteria in the urethra can be pushed toward the bladder. And using some types of birth control—like a diaphragm—can also cause bacteria to collect more, and eventually get into the urethra and the bladder.
Girls Health—How do you treat it?
If a bladder infection is diagnosed early, it’s usually not a big deal to treat. You can find out if you have UTI with a urine test at the doctor’s office. Other tests can also be done on a urine sample to determine which antibiotics are best for you. Most infections are curable with a few days of antibiotic treatment. A doctor could also prescribe other medications to ease some of the painful symptoms. One medication that’s commonly prescribed for pain is pyridium. It works well but it could turn your urine a reddish color. If that happens, don’t freak out—it’s normal. Abstaining from sexual intercourse during treatment also helps the healing process.
When a bladder infection just starts, and if it isn’t too bad, many women treat it themselves by drinking a few glasses of cranberry juice and lots of water every day for a few days. This can “flush” the infection out of the bladder.
Girls Health—How can you avoid it?
You can help prevent UTIs by trying the following:
- drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day
- don’t drink a lot of caffeine (coffee or colas), or alcohol
- don’t wait to go to the bathroom—urinate when you get the urge
- take showers instead of baths
- wipe from front to back whenever you go to the bathroom
- urinate before and right after sexual intercourse
What are they?
Fibroids are growths that may be found in the uterus.
Made up of muscle and fibrous tissue, fibroids form when cells grow abnormally. Fibroids are found in 25% of all women in their 30s and 40s, and tend to appear in black women more than white women.
Often more than one fibroid is present, and they can vary in size from as small as a walnut or as big as an orange. Fibroids can affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant and can increase the chances of a miscarriage. In less than 1% of women, they may indicate cancer.
Most women with fibroids experience no symptoms. But some develop menstrual problems, such as:
- Menorrhagia (excessive menstrual bleeding)
- Longer periods
- Bleeding between periods
- Anemia (due to high blood loss)
- Dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain)
Girls Health—How do you treat it?
A pelvic exam can help determine if you have fibroids. Other tests include an ultrasonography (similar to the ultrasound) and a laparoscopy. Fibroids don’t necessarily need to be removed. Your doctor might just continue monitoring them until they become a problem—which might never happen.
If the fibroids grow or cause pain, they can be removed by surgery. Even after treatment, though, fibroids may reappear.
Drugs called gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonists may also shrink the fibroids. But if a woman stops taking the medication, the fibroids might grow back. Since these drugs increase the risk for osteoporosis, they are mainly used for just a few months before surgery.
Girls Health—How can you avoid them?
No one knows for sure what causes fibroids, but high levels of estrogen affect them. Fibroids may get larger during pregnancy, and in women who take high-dose estrogen oral contraceptives. Lower dose estrogen oral contraceptives don’t increase the size of fibroids, and may make them smaller and help reduce bleeding.