Tips for talking to your boyfriend about UTIs
We often don't talk to our partner about our struggle with bladder infections for fear of seeming less attractive or even dirty or somehow less worthy. But the only thing worse than suffering the painful symptoms and mental stress of a UTI is trying to act like everything is fine in the process. We know it's a super uncomfortable topic and we can definitely understand if you're having a hard time bringing it up. Remember, they're nothing to be ashamed of. Also, in our experience and that of our community, partners usually respond in a much more understanding and supportive way than we expect them to - especially if you find a quiet moment and just explain to him (without passing any blame) what's going on with you right now. To make this conversation as relaxed as possible, we've put together the most important tips for you.
Explain to him what UTIs are and how they occur
More than half of all women get bladder infections, so they're nothing unusual. A UTI is a bacterial infection that, fortunately, can usually be treated well and quickly. It is not a sexually transmitted disease! So your partner didn't infect you with it. However, sex is a major risk factor. The infection is mainly caused by our own intestinal bacteria (the e. coli bacteria), which are transported by friction during sex from the anus, your vagina, or even your partner's skin to the urethral opening. From there, they travel down the urethra to the bladder, where they trigger the inflammation.
Good for him to know: Young men very, very rarely get BE themselves - only 20% are men and of those, most are over 50. Unfortunately, we women are at a real disadvantage because of our anatomy: our urinary tract is very close to the anus, and our shorter urethra means that the bacteria are quickly in the bladder.
What else should your boyfriend know about UTIs?
Even though UTIs are usually harmless, they are no small deal. Some may think we just need to go to the bathroom a little more often and not realize the extreme pain this inflammation can cause - and not just when we pee, but all the time. And even if the symptoms haven't hit (yet), we're constantly wondering if they're still coming. If he knows that, he can support you much better.
And unfortunately, once you've had a UTI, your body is much more susceptible to it. So it doesn't mean you're not healthy or unsanitary. Your bladder lining is just already irritated and can't defend itself as well against the bacteria. Even a childhood bladder infection from swimming can encourage more later.
How can your partner support you?
Since the body's own E. coli bacteria are the main cause of bladder infections, we need to prevent these culprits from reaching the urethra from the anus. Taking a short (shared) shower before sex can help wash away bacteria. Also, he should always pay attention to where he is with which finger during sex - and most importantly, never switch from anal to vaginal sex without washing thoroughly. Likewise, it's not a good idea to even knock on the back door with his best piece and then move forward.
And if you are experiencing symptoms, you should wait to have sex until they pass. Your body needs some time to recover. If he knows that's the reason you don't want to have sex, that quickly clears up any misunderstandings.
Avoid the blame-game
No one is to blame for UTIs. Sex without friction is not possible (and would not be fun). The bacteria are the only ones to blame. You both can only reduce the risk by taking responsibility for your part. Even though it is more than frustrating to get the symptoms (again), don't get carried away blaming your partner.
Explain to him the measures you are taking
Telling him all the preventative measures you take will bring more serenity and security to your relationship - plus, he'll know what's up with you running to the bathroom and jumping in the shower right after sex. If you both stick to your part to prevent UTIs, it makes you feel like a team and in control of the situation.
Yes, it's not the most pleasant conversation we can imagine, but we hope you'll have it anyway. Not only because you'll be helping to de-taboo the topic, but mostly because it's liberating to say how you feel. A sorrow shared is a sorrow halved. We can't say it enough, bladder infections are nothing to be ashamed of. Sex is just the most common trigger, and because no one wants to give it up, it helps to talk about it. By taking action, he can help you stay healthy and happy - which, again, will have a positive impact on your relationship (and sex life!). What man wouldn't want that?