When it comes to relationships, communication is key. But what happens when the thing you need to communicate about involves a burning urethra and running to the bathroom to pee every five minutes?
Yep, we’re talking about urinary tract infections. It might seem awkward at first, but when you and your partner don’t talk about UTIs, it can easily lead to feelings of rejection, shame, or embarrassment. As if UTIs weren’t already enough of a struggle. *eye roll*
Rebecca, a member of our Utiva community, has experienced these complications in her own relationship.
“I very rarely have sex with my husband because of the fear of getting a UTI. This has caused a lot of problems in our relationship because I feel he doesn’t understand me and that he doesn’t care about how debilitating UTIs can be for me.”
For your partner to understand your experience and support you, it’s vital to speak honestly and openly about your UTIs. And if you do it right, it can actually make you feel closer to each other.
Wondering how to bring up the topic? Or, more importantly, what to say? Read on for our complete guide to talking to your partner about UTIs — no matter how far along you are in your relationship.
Step 1: Know your stuff before you start.
Before jumping into a conversation with your S/O, make sure you understand the UTI basics.
A UTI happens when bacteria enters the urethra and travels up the urinary tract. Typically, we flush bacteria out of our urinary tract when we pee. But if bacteria takes hold and starts to spread, it can cause an infection, most often in the bladder.
The result? A whole slew of painful, annoying, and sometimes scary symptoms, including:
- A burning sensation when you pee
- Abdominal, side, or back pain
- A constant need to pee, even though hardly any urine comes out when you try
- Fever or chills
- Nausea or vomiting
- Cloudy, bloody, or discoloured urine
- Pelvic cramps
While UTIs can happen to anyone, including kids, they are most common for women. Since the female urethra is so close to the vagina and anus, it’s easier for bacteria to find its way where it doesn’t belong. On top of that, about 27% of women will experience another UTI within 6 months of the first one.
There are so many other reasons why UTIs might happen, from wiping back to front to holding in your pee for too long. But regardless of how you got the infection, it’s important to remember that it’s not your fault. Bacteria is bound to get places it doesn’t belong. It’s all a part of being human, and as long as you get treatment right away, most UTIs will heal within a week or two.
Step 2: Choose a time and place that feels relaxing.
It’s probably best not to start the conversation when tensions are high. Set a time to chat with your partner, so that you’re both aware of when it’s happening and can come into the conversation feeling calm and mentally prepared.
Try to select a location that makes both of you feel comfortable. Maybe it’s your home or a peaceful outdoor spot. Wherever it is, make sure there will be minimal distractions and that you’ll both feel 100% safe to express your emotions, without judgement.
If you just started dating, it’s best to be open about your struggles with UTIs as early as possible. This will provide your new partner with full transparency so they can support you from the jump, whether you’ve started having sex with them or not. Plus, their reaction to the conversation can tell you a lot about what kind of partner they might be in the future.
Step 3: Explain the basics.
Our best advice? Don’t skirt around the details. Tell your partner exactly what a UTI is, why it can occur, and how it feels to have one.
Explain to your partner that UTIs are extremely common. Getting a urinary tract infection does not make you unhealthy, unsanitary, or incapable of taking care of yourself. At the same time, UTIs are very serious. They can be incredibly painful and can even lead to hospitalization if they spread to your kidneys.
Make sure your partner understands that UTIs are not sexually transmitted diseases. However, they can be caused by sex. Intercourse creates a ton of opportunities for existing bacteria to shift around and new bacteria to be invited in. Plus, switching between the vagina and anus can bring E.coli — the most common UTI-causing bacteria — into the urinary tract.
That’s why so many people struggle with getting frequent UTIs from sex. Just like another one of our Utiva community members, Chelsea.
“Since I would get a UTI after sex each time, it really made me not want to engage in sexual activity with my husband, which negatively affected our relationship.”
This is where step 4 comes in.
Step 4: Avoid pointing fingers.
If you’re susceptible to getting UTIs from sex, it’s easy for your partner to feel like they’ve done something wrong. They may even feel like they’re to blame for your pain and discomfort.
On the other hand, you might blame yourself. You might experience feelings of guilt or shame, worrying that your UTIs are somehow your fault. And since UTIs can stand in the way of intimacy, it’s easy to stress about providing for your partner in that area of your relationship.
The bottom line is this: bacteria is the only thing to blame for your UTIs. Nobody gave you a UTI. You didn’t cause it. It’s just the nature of having a urinary tract and, in most cases, being a woman.
So instead of playing the blame game, tell your partner about what you’re doing to prevent infections. If you’re taking daily UTI prevention supplements, like Utiva’s Cranberry PACs, explain how they work and why they’re important.
Let them know that if you’re running to the shower after sex or asking for things to be cleaned in-between positions, it’s not about them. It’s simply the game plan to stay UTI-free. The more they know about what you’re doing to stay healthy, the less likely they are to feel guilty or rejected.
Step 5: Teach them how they can support you.
Relationships are all about teamwork, and the same applies to UTIs. Here are a few ways that your partner can support you moving forward:
- Educate themselves on UTIs and how to prevent them.
- Take a shower or clean their genitalia before sex to wash away any bacteria, like E.coli, that might be hiding there.
- Always clean up before switching from vaginal to anal sex.
- Pay attention to which fingers are going where.
Most of all, ask your partner to be patient and compassionate. They need to understand that it might not be comfortable for you to have sex at this current moment, and that is 100% okay. After all, nothing makes you feel less sexy than excruciating pain and a burning sensation down there.
If you’d still like to be intimate without being intimate, chat to your partner about ways to do that. For example, cuddling, engaging in sexually stimulating activities that don’t involve your genitals, or even just talking about how excited you’ll both be to have sex once your UTI is gone.
And if you’re prone to getting UTIs from sex, explain to your partner how it might make sex less enjoyable for you. This is something Tessa, another Utiva community member, has had to deal with first-hand.
“When UTIs were constantly recurring because of sex, it literally gave me PTSD every time I went to pee because I would worry that I’d feel the sting. UTIs would also make me enjoy sex a lot less because the chance of getting an infection would always be at the back of my mind.”
Remember, UTIs affect two people: you and your partner. By keeping open communication and taking time to really listen to each other, you can work together to prevent UTIs and make your relationship even stronger in the long run.
Preventing UTIs with Utiva
Did you know a daily supplement can help free you (and your partner) from UTIs? Utiva’s Cranberry PACs Supplement is packed with 36mg of PACs per dose. This powerful compound is clinically proven to stop bacteria from sticking to your urinary tract lining and causing infection. It’s also plant-based, doctor recommended, and made in Canada.
Want to boost your prevention plan? Pair Utiva's Cranberry PACs with Utiva’s D-Mannose supplement to combat E.coli and ward off sex-associated UTIs.