URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS can make some people, particularly women, feel needlessly ashamed. “For years, women were told that UTIs were related to their cleanliness, but they’re not,” says Dr. Barbara W. Trautner, a physician at Houston’s Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
It is true that women get UTIs up to 30 times more often than men, but it’s a matter of anatomy, not hygiene. For anyone, a UTI develops when bacteria in the bladder—usually introduced via the urethra—cause inflammation or other symptoms somewhere along the urinary tract. Since the urethra in women is shorter than it is in men, the bacteria have less distance to travel to reach the bladder. As well, in women’s bodies, the urethra opening is closer to the anus, where E. coli—a common cause of UTIs—reside.
Other factors make certain women more prone to the condition: sexual activity, pregnancy, and birth control with spermicides, for example.
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