Bladder infections, also known as urinary tract infections or UTI’s, are serious health problems that primarily affect women. Men can also get serious bladder infections, but not as often as women. There are many causes, but with proper precautions, these infections can often be avoided. If bladder infections go untreated, the bacteria will move up into the ureters and on into the kidneys, causing more damage and health risks.
A major cause of bladder infections is fecal contamination, specifically the bacteria known as E. Coli. Improper wiping—wiping from back to front—can pull the bacteria from the rectal area and into the urethra. Women should always wipe from front to back to prevent this from happening. Proper hygiene will help prevent infections. Sexual intercourse and wearing tight clothes can also force bacteria into the urethra. Other irritants are bubble bath and soap.
Holding urine in the bladder for an extended period of time can allow bacteria to flourish. Drinking lots of water and emptying the bladder often will dilute the urine and help prevent the bacteria from multiplying. Using the diaphragm as birth control can put pressure on the bladder, and can also cause infection.
In males, urinary tract infections can be caused by a genetic obstruction. Lack of circumcision can put young boys at risk during their first year of life, but infections due to circumcision are rare in males after that time. Bacteria can cause infection during the first year of life when it collects under the foreskin.
During pregnancy, the release of the hormone progesterone relaxes and stretches the ureters. The growing uterus can compress the ureters and bladder making it harder to empty the bladder during urination. This relaxation and compression can limit and slow the outgoing flow of urine which allows bacteria to thrive. Even though frequent urination might be inconvenient, the mom-to-be needs to heed her body’s signals and empty the bladder as well as possibly with each bathroom visit.
Invasive Medical Treatments
Certain medical procedures such as a catheterization can introduce bacteria into the bladder and, if left untreated, on up into the kidney. If the catheter tube is touched against any non-sterile surface, the contaminated end could cause problems. The tube of the catheter causes irritation and pushes bacteria up into the urethra. Also, if the opening of the urethra isn’t properly cleaned and prepared, usually with Betadine solution, infection of the bladder will be the result.