The Anxiety & Fear that comes with UTIs - and what you can do about it
Sex should be fun, first and foremost, but it can also be complicated - not just because of all the emotions involved - but also if you're dealing with constantly recurring bladder infections.
Urinary tract infections are a really frustrating part of having a vagina. They can both be wildly unpleasant and downright painful. Most people with vaginas will experience a UTI at least once in their lives, and many have to deal with recurring infections. Hand in hand with recurrent infections, is the anxiety that can develop when anticipating the next UTI hitting. Just when you least expect it or after you've had a really good time (hence the name honeymoon cystitis), the blasphemous symptoms strike again. We’ve all been there – for Claire, it was once at 2 am at a night club.
Women who have had many negative experiences with recurrent UTIs often develop a permanent underlying fear of getting another infection. After sex, a night out or swimming - the fear that a UTI will follow shortly after is great. This fear can negatively impact the present moment, especially during sex. It’s hard to enjoy yourself if you’re anticipating horrible consequences shortly after.
It can definitely be scary to keep getting bladder infections or even fungal infections. Luckily, though, there are some effective things you can do to ease your anxiety.
First step: acknowledge feelings of anxiety
First, it's important to acknowledge that these feelings are completely valid. When we have negative feelings, we often tend to deny or suppress them - but this only makes them stronger. Becoming aware of your fear, accepting it and forgiving yourself for it is the first step. Don't beat yourself up when you feel that (very understandable!) anxiety again.
Prevention is the key
The most effective way to alleviate the fear of the next UTI is to take all possible preventive measures. Knowing that you've done everything you can to prevent a bladder infection will give you a lot of peace of mind. If sex is your main trigger for UTIs, there are a few things you can do to greatly reduce the risk of an infection. Drink a large glass of water before sex and take 2 Wing Woman capsules. This will allow the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agents to start working immediately should bacteria enter the urinary tract during sex. Plus, with the extra liquid, you can flush out the bad bacteria more thoroughly afterwards. Because the be-all and end-all is: go pee right after sex. As soon as possible is best, but you don't have to jump up either. If you go within 15 minutes, you're usually on the safe side. Then drink another big glass of water and take 2 Wing Woman again. If you can't make it before sex, take 4 at a time afterwards. The high dosage of D-Mannose will help you flush out the bacteria before they can take hold and do any damage. Taking a short shower after sex also helps to eliminate external bacteria. Be sure to use a special intimate wash gel with the right pH for your vagina. Classic shower gels can do more harm. And if you want to use a lubricant during sex, opt for a natural one without artificial fragrances and additives.
Relaxation techniques and spiritual support
If you have taken all preventive measures, but the fear is still there, try to focus entirely on your breath in these situations. Close your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath and let go of the fear with the exhalation. Repeat the exercise until you feel better. Meditation can also help manage anxiety - both during your anxiety attack and every day to become more balanced. Even 5 minutes a day has been shown to bring results. If you don't like meditating alone, get an app like Headspace or Calm that have the right guided meditation ready for any situation (also great for meditation newbies). Keeping a journal and writing about your feelings can also help you work through anxiety. If the anxiety comes during sex, try to focus completely on the moment, on the beautiful feeling and closeness. Talk positively to yourself and tell yourself that you did everything in your power. The only thing you can do at this moment is to enjoy it fully.
Mental support whether from your partner or friends is also not to be underestimated. Don't be afraid to share your fears and talk to the people who are close to you. You will feel better. A psychotherapist can also help you develop long-term strategies for coping with anxiety.
Fight anxiety with a healthy body
Pay attention to your health, too. A healthy body is much less prone to anxiety disorders - and infections. Try to eat healthy to provide your body with all the vitamins and minerals it needs. Tryptophan-rich foods like amaranth, cashews, sunflower seeds, quinoa, oats, sesame seeds, millet, mushrooms, and Jerusalem artichokes can be especially good at helping to stimulate the release of serotonin, the happy hormone, in the brain. Exercising a few times a week or even taking long walks in fresh air further reduces the risk of anxiety.
Studies have also shown that vitamin D3 can help with anxiety and panic attacks. With 4 capsules of Wing Woman (a total of 10 µg vitamin D3) you already cover twice your daily requirement of the sun vitamin. Keeping your face in the sun for a few minutes every day is still a good idea to provide an extra dose of serotonin.
Just know that you are not in this alone, and there are places and resources to help ease your anxiety.