Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common condition for women, especially pregnant women. While urinary tract infections are relatively harmless, if left untreated they can lead to complications with your pregnancy. Although UTIs do not prevent pregnancy, they can complicate your pregnancy. There are several preventive measures that do not put the mother or fetus at risk.
A urinary tract infection is an inflammation of your body's urine producing system, including your kidneys, bladder and urethra. UTIs normally affect your bladder or your urethra, the tube that carries urine from your bladder to the outside of your body. If left untreated, urinary tract infections can spread to your kidneys. UTI treatment is usually a round of antibiotics prescribed with directions to drink lots of water to flush out your system.
Normally, bacteria found on the skin, in the bowels or in the stool causes UTI. The bacteria find its way into the urinary tract and begins to multiply, causing pain and irritation. This can happen several ways, including sexual intercourse, or stool being wiped into the vagina after a bowel movement. An enlarged uterus blocking the urinary passage can also cause a UTI. So can a catheter, a tube that is inserted into the bladder to remove urine for those who cannot do so naturally.
The first symptom of a urinary tract infection is often a frequent need to urinate. On the other hand, difficulty urinating is another sign of urinary tract infection. Lower abdomen or back cramps or a burning sensation when urinating are both common symptoms of a UTI. Finally, cloudy or smelly urine is another symptom. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your physician for a diagnosis.
A urinary tract infection will not prevent pregnancy, because pregnancy takes place in the uterus, which is not connected to the urinary system. While your urinary tract and your reproductive system may be close in proximity, they have very little to do with each other. Untreated UTIs can lead to kidney infections, which are not necessarily good for conception but do not technically prevent it.
Almost anyone can get a urinary tract infection but pregnant women are more likely to get UTIs because of the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. As the woman's uterus grows with the baby, it may press down on the bladder and it from emptying completely. As the urine stagnates in the bladder, it can develop bacteria that may cause a UTI.
If you are pregnant and believe that you have a urinary tract infection, seek treatment immediately. Untreated UTIs often develop into the serious kidney infections, which can cause unnecessary stress on your baby and even lead to premature labor.
There are steps you can take to prevent urinary tract infections. Drink lots of liquids, especially water and cranberry juice. Water will flush the toxins and bacteria from your urinary tract. A multivitamin that includes vitamin C and zinc can boost your immune system and help you fight off infection. Always wipe front to back after a bowel movement to prevent feces from finding its way into your urinary tract. Never hold your urine, either. Urinate as soon as you feel the need to and empty your bladder completely to avoid stagnant urine in your bladder.