UTIs: The Silent Threat to Your Fertility

June 2023 (4 min read)

A UTI is an infection of the urinary tract, which includes the bladder and kidneys. UTIs can be caused by bacteria that enter the urinary tract through the urethra. If a UTI is not treated, it can spread to the kidneys and cause serious health problems.

The symptoms of a UTI can vary from person to person, but they often include:

  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Frequent urination
  • A need to urinate urgently
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Pain in the lower abdomen

The frequency of UTIs can vary depending on a number of factors, including age, gender, and sexual activity. UTIs are most common in young women and can also be more common in women who are pregnant or have diabetes.

According to the NHS, around 1 in 3 women in the UK will experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their lives. UTIs are more common in women than men because the female urethra is shorter and closer to the anus, making it easier for bacteria to enter the bladder.

UTIs are very rare in men. They are estimated to affect around 3 percent of men worldwide each year. This means that most men will never have a UTI, especially if they are young. When a UTI develops in men, it is usually considered complicated and more likely to spread to the kidneys and upper urinary tract. Some cases may even require surgery.

How UTIs Are Diagnosed

If your doctor suspects that you have a UTI, they will likely order a urine culture. This test is used to identify the type of bacteria that is causing the infection. Once the type of bacteria is known, your doctor can prescribe the most effective antibiotic.

How Can UTIs Impact Your Fertility?

There is a link between UTIs and having challenges in a fertility journey.

A 2017 study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that women who had a history of UTIs were more likely to have difficulty getting pregnant than women who did not have a history of UTIs. The study found that women who had a history of UTIs were 1.5 times more likely to have difficulty getting pregnant than women who did not have a history of UTIs.

UTIs can increase the risk of miscarriage.

A 2016 study published in the journal Human Reproduction found that women who had a history of UTIs were more likely to have a miscarriage than women who did not have a history of UTIs. The study found that women who had a history of UTIs were 2.5 times more likely to have a miscarriage than women who did not have a history of UTIs.

There can be a connection between UTIs and preterm birth.

A 2022 study (source) found that women who experience UTIs in pregnancy were more likely to have a preterm birth. Additionally a 2015 study found that women who had a history of UTIs were 1.5 times more likely to have a preterm birth than women who did not have a history of UTIs.

It is important to note that these studies are observational studies, which means that they cannot prove that UTIs cause infertility. However, these studies do suggest that there is a link between UTIs and infertility.

If you have a history of UTIs, it is important to talk to your doctor or chosen fertility specialist about how they may impact your fertility.

The good news is that with adequate management it is possible to minimise complications. Available evidence prompts the recommendation of routine screening for asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB) in early pregnancy to minimise complications and identify those women at significant risk for preterm delivery. This is available through Plan Your Baby. Speak to our fertility experts to find out more.

Most Common Treatments for UTIs

The most common treatment for a UTI is antibiotics. Antibiotics are effective at killing the bacteria that are causing the infection. The length of treatment will vary depending on the severity of the infection and the type of bacteria that is causing it.

In addition to antibiotics, there are some home remedies that can help relieve the symptoms of a UTI. These include:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Cranberry juice
  • Pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen

If you have frequent UTIs, your doctor may recommend other treatments, such as:

  • Taking antibiotics after sexual intercourse
  • Taking cranberry supplements
  • Drinking probiotics
  • Having surgery to correct an underlying problem, such as a urinary tract obstruction

Preventing UTIs

There are some things you can do to help prevent UTIs, such as:

  • Drinking Plenty Of Fluids
  • Voiding Your Bladder Regularly
  • Wiping From Front To Back After Using The Toilet
  • Avoiding Bubble Baths And Scented Soaps
  • Not Holding Your Urine
  • Having Regular Sexual Activity
  • Using A Condom During Sexual Intercourse
  • Emptying Your Bladder Before And After Sex
  • Urinating After Sex
  • Taking Cranberry Supplements
  • Drinking probiotics

If you have any questions about how UTIs could be impacting your fertility please get in touch for a free 15 minute online consultation with our Fertility Specialists.

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