The top 6 UTI myths - debunked

Ever felt a painful burning sensation when peeing or that annoying, overwhelming urge to wee every 5 minutes? You’re not alone. Urinary tract infections are among the most common infections, and every other woman gets one at some point in her lifetime. And though they are shockingly common, there are many misconceptions regarding UTIs, their causes, and how to deal with them.

From chugging down cranberry juice to abstaining from sex, it’s time to set the record straight. Here are six of the most common myths about UTIs and some tips on how to best prevent them:

Myth #1: A UTI means you have poor hygiene

FALSE: UTIs occur when bacteria like Escherichia coli bacterium, which thrive in the anus area, enter the urinary tract through the urethra. So, the only way your hygiene habits can affect your chances of contracting an infection is by wiping from back to front. Other than that, hygiene-related practices do not directly cause UTIs. In fact, over-cleaning the genital area can do more harm than good. Using harsh soaps and chemicals may cause increased irritation and kill off the good bacteria.

Instead of hygiene habits, try focusing on developing better bladder habits by listening to your body’s cues. Make sure you completely empty your bladder every time you go, and do not wait too long to urinate or try to hold it in.

Myth #2: Sex causes UTIs

FALSE: Sex is frequently associated with UTIs, but it is NOT a direct cause. UTIs happen when bacteria find their way into the urinary system, which can easily happen when you’re getting lucky. Additionally, many other factors might make you more susceptible to getting a UTI, such as holding your urine or other medical conditions like diabetes that weaken the body’s immune system. It’s also important to mention that some women are just more prone to developing infections due to anatomy or their natural bacterial colonization in the genital area.

Nonetheless, practicing good sexual hygiene has been shown to help reduce the risks. So make sure to pee before and after sex to remain bacteria-free.

Myth #3: Cranberry juice can help treat UTIs

TBD: Cranberry juice is practically synonymous with UTIs and is often seen as an easy, drug-free fix. However, the scientific evidence regarding its effectiveness is mixed. Cranberries are considered a go-to solution because they contain proanthocyanidins, which supposedly block bacteria from sticking to the bladder walls. While some studies show that cranberry juice does help prevent infections, others question its efficacy. And when it comes to the question of whether cranberry juice, pills, or supplements can treat a current infection, the answer is a resounding no. The bottom line is that cranberry juice cannot cure UTIs, and you shouldn’t rely on it to prevent them, either.

Alternatively, drinking water is proven to be one of the most efficient ways to prevent UTIs. Increasing your fluid intake and maintaining a robust urinary stream help flush bacteria out of your bladder and actually reduces their ability to adhere to cells lining the urinary tract.

Myth #4: Only women get UTIs

FALSE: A UTI can happen anywhere in the urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Since both men and women have urinary systems, men can get UTIs too. It's just not as likely, thanks to their anatomy. Men have longer urethras, which means it's more difficult for bacteria to reach the bladder. In contrast, women’s short urethral distance increases the chances for bacteria to travel and trigger infections.

Myth #5: A UTI is an STI

FALSE: Repeat after us: UTIs are not an STI. UTIs occur when pre-existing bacteria get pushed up through the urethra. Sexual intercourse just allows for easier passage. They're not contagious or transmittable, so you don't have to worry about contracting your partner’s UTI.

Myth #6: It will always eventually go away on its own

IT DEPENDS: Typically, a UTI is not a severe condition, but it can sometimes lead to serious complications if left untreated. Therefore, even though some mild cases can go away on their own, it is better and safer to test and consult with a clinician once you start experiencing symptoms.

To get diagnosed, you can either visit your GP or use the Velieve UTI Test Kit, which contains everything you need to quickly test and treat UTIs from the comfort of your home with your smartphone. Order the kit online and get it delivered directly to your door. Then, download the Velieve app and follow the step-by-step instructions to complete a super-simple urine test. Within 30 minutes, an online doctor will send you a diagnosis and even prescribe antibiotics if needed. All so you can get the quickest and most effective treatment.


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Last revised: 20 November 2020
Next review: 20 November 2021