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Are you a woman? Congratulations. Apart from having to experience uncomfortable periods, you are a high risk candidate (as in 1 in 2 women) for UTI. Although men can definitely have UTI, it is mostly a woman’s disease. UTI or urinary tract infection is one painful experience and chances are, it would repeat itself once you had one, sometimes for years.

I used to think I was immune to UTI. In fact, I prided myself to be the only woman in the family not to have experienced the whole ordeal – my aunts had it, my cousin (younger than me) and my mom contracted the disease. They would wince in pain and would stay in bed all day, and – in the case of my mom – would nag the rest of the family until we can go to a doctor.

I couldn’t relate to any of it. In fact, I would be the one to tell my mom to chill out and just wait it out. How evil was I?

UTI is one of the most painful things I have ever felt. Give me motorcycle crashes anytime. Sure, it’s far from gall stone related pain, but it sure comes close. First, there’s this feeling of not peeing enough. Then comes the burning sensation when you pee. You’d tear up. As per my mom, it feels like you’re peeing razor blades. You’d stay on the toilet seat for a long time just so you can let the feeling pass, and let all the pee drain from your bladder. You’d stand up then and you’d feel that irresistible “I want to pee now!” feeling. You’d lie down and you have a pain on your side that won’t go away. It’s horrible.

Before having to feel any of this, I was one of those who judged women who had UTIs. I always thought, “She doesn’t have good hygiene”, which is why I made it a point to ALWAYS clean my intimate area very well. With very well I mean I wash it with soap at least three times a day and if there’s a bidet available, would wash it down every time I go.

How wrong were my hygiene goals.

The most common misconception of UTI is that you will contract it when you have poor hygiene – or wiping strategy. Most women wipe down there after peeing (who wants to have a wet underwear anyway), and would just wipe it back to front – it’s less awkward. However, that’s wrong, not to mention icky because the anus is located at the back. So if you wipe back to front, you’re basically wiping from the anus, vagina to the urethra (your pee hole) or spreading bacteria from – you know what I mean. Oh, and it’s not sexually related at all.

Because of the way women’s bodies are designed, bacteria from the large intestine like E. choli a.k.a. The Cholera Bacteria, can travel to the urethra easily. And from the urethra, it can travel up to the bladder and the kidneys. And since women’s urethras are short, bacteria can travel faster (shorter travel time, what can I say). If you are suffering from yeast infection, you might spread the fungus to the urethra if you wipe like that.

Therefore, it makes sense to keep yourself clean in that area. I mean, liquid is a great medium to spread bacteria. With the sweat, pee, and other bodily fluids having a party down there, I wanted to be super clean so that I won’t be like the others. I still got UTI though. And it’s because of this almost-OCD approach to cleanliness.

I forgot about good bacteria and fungi. See, when I wash three times a day with normal soap, I kill all of the good bacteria and fungi and this disrupts the ecosystem down there, therefore ridding the area of its natural defenses. Not only it makes the urinary system vulnerable, it also makes the reproductive area helpless.

The vagina, because it’s badass, is a self-cleaning organ. It has its own cleaning mechanism by way of its mucus membranes and mucus secretions, thanks to the good bacteria and fungi colonies that support it. When you strip it away – guess what happens? Yeast infection. WHY DO THESE BODY PARTS HAVE TO BE SO CLOSE AND SO OPEN?

So yes, you can have yeast infection and UTI because of too much cleanliness. The irony. No one told me about this until yesterday when I came to a doctor, wincing and weak because of my condition. It was goddamn painful, like my mom said, it’s like peeing razor blades – but burning razor blades. I went weak on my knees, got pale and got chills. I can’t even sit straight. He (he!) asked for my medical history, if there is a discharge (nope), how many times I wash down there (more than I should) and what soap do I use to wash down there (normal, perfumed, anti-bacterial soap).

Apart from the usual antibiotics and painkillers, he prescribed a feminine hygiene wash (it’s pH balanced so as not to inflict genocide on the good flora down there) and not to wash as much. Also, to drink lots of water.

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