A urinary tract infection (also called "UTI") is an infection caused by bacteria in your urinary tract. Your urinary tract includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.
A UTI can develop during sexual intercourse because the urethra (the tube that urine flows through from the bladder to leave the body) is very close to the vagina. The pressure from intercourse can push bacteria up the urethra and into the bladder.
Breast cancer treatments don't directly cause urinary tract infections. But chemotherapy can dry out the vaginal tissues and reduce your body's ability to fight infection, both of which make it easier for you to get a UTI.
Managing urinary tract infections
If you think you have a urinary tract infection, talk to your doctor. An antibiotic can take care of it.
To help your body resist urinary tract infections:
- Try to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day.
- Use extra lubrication during intercourse if your vaginal tissues are dry or thin.
- Drink a lot of water and go to the bathroom just before you have sex. Then go to the bathroom again immediately afterward. This helps flush out bacteria.
- Drink cranberry juice or take vitamin C. Both of these help keep your urine acidic, which can help fight UTIs.
- Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes so air can help keep the area dry. Avoid nylon underwear and tight jeans. These trap moisture and can help bacteria grow.
For more tips, ask the members of the Breastcancer.org Discussion Boards for advice.