Bladder infections, commonly lumped under a single group of infections called urinary tract infections (UTIs), are a painful and common issue for both men and women. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, bladder infections are much more common in women than men due to female anatomy. In fact, according to the Penn State College of Medicine, one in five women will develop a bladder infection at some point in their lives. Regardless of the anatomy involved, bladder infections can occur frequently if steps to prevent them are ignored.
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Bladder infections stem from the urethra. The urethra is a canal, present in both men and women, that transports urine from the bladder out of the body. Because the urethra is a direct passage between the outside world (which is full of bacteria) and the inner bladder, the urethra is a common route for infection. This occurs when bacteria flows back through the urethra and enters the bladder.
The most common bladder infection-causing bacteria is Escherichia coli, or E. coli. E. coli is a dangerous bacteria that is commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract. Because of its presence there, E. coli bacteria is commonly found in feces, both human and animal. When this bacteria enters the bladder, it begins to multiply until enough cells are present to cause an infection. This bacteria can enter into the bladder through the urethra in a few different ways.
Sex is the most common cause of bladder infections in women. This occurs when the penis has traces of bacteria on its flesh. As the man penetrates the woman, the bacteria is pushed up against the urethra. Because the urethra only has a short distance to the bladder, bacteria can often push their way up into the bladder and cause an infection.
The proximity between the anus and the urethra is also a common cause of bladder infection, especially for women. E coli thrives in feces, making the close proximity between the anus and the urethral opening an easy target for infection. Taking extra care in your hygiene practices can help prevent infection through this manner.
Women are not the only people susceptible to bladder infection. Men, especially men over the age of 50, can also develop bladder infections. Most commonly, bladder infections in men occur when an enlarged prostate prevents the bladder from completely emptying, which can contribute to infection. Infection can also occur from catheter use or cases of kidney stones.