Causes of UTIs during chemo?


Question from Website Question: I have had numerous UTIs (urinary tract infections) while undergoing chemo (Taxol/Gemzar) for metastatic cancer. The usual treatment is antibiotics after a urine culture. Does intercourse or oral sex contribute to these infections or is it because my immune system has been compromised?
Answers - Su Kenderdine UTI means urinary tract infections, and, yes, sex can bring on a urinary tract infection even when we're not taking chemotherapy. The urethra is very close to the vagina and the pressure can push bacteria up that short little space into the bladder.

If the tissues in that area are dry and thin because of hormone levels being down (and they usually are when we're taking chemo), extra lubrication can make a big difference in preventing this. Having sex while your bladder is full and then immediately jumping up and peeing can help a lot.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. Peeing before and after. The best way to help prevent developing a urinary tract infection because of intercourse is to drink a lot of water leading up to the time in the evening that you would have intercourse, peeing just before, and as soon as the sexual stimulation is done, get up and pee again. This can make a really big difference.
Su Kenderdine Keeping your urine acid through drinking cranberry juice can also make a big difference. The chemo may add to how easily the infection gets really bad, but it's probably mechanical stuff causing the infection, not primarily the chemo causing the infection.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. You may consider asking your doctor about taking one dose of an antibiotic, like Macrobid, just after intercourse, if intercourse was particularly drawn out or rough for the vagina and if you have a tendency towards developing urinary tract infections.

On Wednesday, May 19, 2004, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Sleep or Sex? You Can Have Both! Su Carroll Kenderdine, M.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answered your questions about how to maintain sexual intimacy during and after treatment, what to do for loss of libido and vaginal dryness, ways to reduce the fatigue related to breast cancer, and more.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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