Many people know the annoying experience of getting a urinary tract infection (UTI). For us, riders, it can get even worse, turning into hell the moment you sit in the saddle and ruining your favourite moment of the day.
But since knowledge is power, we tell you everything you can do to avoid them and treat them in order to deal better with it and be back on the saddle as soon as possible.
- How to get one. UTIs happen as a result of bacteria entering through the urinary tract, where it then begins to spread and grow inside the bladder, sooner or later leaving you struggling with that awful discomfort.
- If you are a woman. UTIs occur more often to females, because a woman's urethra is shorter than a man's, which makes it easier for the bacteria to access the bladder. Ah, just another reason to love being a woman, amirite? Can anything ever just be a little bit easier for us?
- If you are a man. Urinary tract infections are way less common in men but can be a symptom of something more serious, especially if you are young. It could mean that the bladder does not empty properly or the existence of kidney stones.
- How to recognise it? By its unpleasant characteristics like painful burning, itching as well as a continual urge “to go”, even when nothing actually comes out.
- Should I go to the doctor? These bodily signs can also be indicative of other infections, so it's important to go to a doctor whenever something gnarly is going on down there.
- Can I get a UTI from horseback riding? Yes. Wearing those tight breeches and/or non-breathable underwear fabrics may trigger the unwelcome arrival of an UTI as well as the friction “down there” with the saddle, fomenting the entry of bacteria into the urethra.
- The underwear matters. Make sure you don't keep your sweaty undies on after you exercise. The warm and sweaty environment is ideal for bacteria and could lead to a “sports vagina”. The use of bacteriostatic underwear would definitely reduce the chances of getting one.
- A good intimate hygiene is key to avoid UTIs. Always wipe and wash yourself from front to back. This is, of course, to prevent bacteria from moving from your rectum or colon into your vagina. While that's bad enough as it is, add a little sweat to the situation and it's basically a party for germs and harmful bacteria.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids helps dilute and expel whatever is in the bladder. Staying hydrated is also very important when you already have a urinary infection as it can alleviate the symptoms.
- Sexual activity. It is probably the most well-known culprit for causing these painful and annoying infections (all sorts of bacteria from the colon or vag can get lodged in there during sexy time). If you have infections often, a good trick is to drink a glass of water before sex and urinate after it.
- Contraceptives. They can also contribute to recurring urinary infections. If you take contraceptives with low estrogen levels and you have infections frequently, both can be related. Estrogen helps keep normal acidity and lubrication levels in the vagina; If those levels drop, you may have a propensity for dryness, scrapes, and infections, which can lead to a urinary infection.
- Pain reliever. If you already have a urinary tract infection, an over-the-counter urinary pain reliever may help easing the pain while you wait till your doctor's appointment.
For your riding's sake, take good care of your intimate health!