I have given birth twice without medication, and although I would never minimize the hellish pain I experienced while bringing my two sons into this world, I can say without a doubt that there were two other instances of pain that ranked right up there with my labor pain. And one of them is something that might surprise you.
The first is the tummy pain I’ve experienced as a result of IBS. That shit (pun intended!) has left me sweating, cursing, and writhing on the bathroom floor (and on the toilet, of course) in toe-curling pain. No freaking joke.
The other pain also involved my nether regions (they can’t get a break!), and hurt like a mofo. Yep, I’m talking about the pain associated with UTIs. And I don’t think people realize how very painful they can be.
Most of us think of urinary tract infections, or UTIs, as an annoying nuisance that makes us feel like we constantly have to pee. Many of us also know that there can be a burning sensation on top of that relentless urge. But did you know that the burning can sometimes amount to feeling like the pits of hell have taken residence in your pee hole and throughout the entire blazing wilderness of your pelvic region?
Oh. My. God.
I’ve only had two UTIs, but let’s just say they’ve scarred me for life, and now whenever I get any sort of burning, nagging feeling like I have to pee, I start to freak the eff out, drink a gallon of water, and pray to the urethra goddess that I will never have to go that route again.
I got my UTIs while in college. It started with a nagging feeling like I had to pee ALL. THE. TIME. But when I went to pee, not much would come out. Instead, I felt a burning sensation deep inside. Soon, that burning progressed to a fiery pain that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
Finally, I went to the university health clinic where I was tested for a vaginal yeast infection and a UTI. Once they realized it was a UTI, they sent me home with the advice to drink a ton of water, start wiping front to back (which I still do to this day!), and to drink cranberry juice like it was my job.
I took the advice and things began to get better. But they didn’t completely go away. That nagging sensation like I always had to pee was still there, though the hell-fire pain had dissipated.
When I went home for Christmas break, things went from bad to worse, very quickly. The pain returned, and now there was blood each time I wiped. Oh, and I’d started to get the nauseous, I’m about to die chills. It was awful.
My mom took me to the doctor, who, upon testing my urine, basically yelled at me, saying that I had waited too long to come and my simple bladder infection was about to progress to a full-blown kidney infection, which could be very dangerous. I was given antibiotics and sent on my way.
Well, those antibiotics cleared things right up in a way that dang cranberry juice just couldn’t do. Thank heavens.
Determined never to go down that route again, I learned everything I could about UTIs.
Basically, UTIs are caused by bacteria (you know, from your butt and anything else that makes contact with that region) entering the urethra/bladder region and multiplying. And because, as The Mayo Clinic points out, women have shorter urethras than men, the distance the bacteria must travel to reach the bladder is shorter as well, thus leaving us more prone to UTI’s. Lovely.
And guess what? Sexual activity is one of the top ways that we acquire UTIs. In fact, after much searching (funny how neither doctor I saw mentioned this), I figured out that my UTIs were likely caused by the diaphragm that my boyfriend and I had started using. Those things are a breeding grounds for bacteria, and no matter how well I followed the directions and took care to wash after, I only stopped having UTI symptoms once I stopped using that damn thing.
As The Mayo Clinic explains, other risk factors for UTIs include: use of spermicidal lubricants (yep, we were using that too), a suppressed immune system, menopause (something to look forward to!), catheter use, uterine tract abnormalities, and just having sexual intercourse in general. Women are #soblessed.
But take heart: There are things you can to do to prevent yourself from getting a UTI. I do them religiously to this day and haven’t had another UTI. Always drink of ton of fluids (cranberry juice if it suits your fancy, but there is no concrete proof that it helps); keep things clean in your downstairs area; make sure to pee right after sex; and wipe from front to back to keep poop bacteria out of your urethra.
In some cases, these treatments alone can clear up a mild infection. But you should always see your doctor at the first sign of anything serious, because antibiotics might be warranted. And you definitely want to catch things before they get so out of hand that you literally have blood coming out of your pee-hole and your on-fire pelvis is knocking on death’s door.
Trust me: you do not want to go there.
This article was originally published on