The Fire Down Below: UTIs

Do you have a vulva? Are you sexually active? Then you’ve likely had a UTI or a Urinary Tract Infection. I am someone who falls into the category of people that have UTIs chronically. For the better part of my sexually active life, I’ve been dealing with one infection after another. I’d feel that tell-tale burning in my vagina and sigh. I’d schedule a doctor’s appointment for the following day and wait up all night, enduring the burning of my urethra as I waited for it to be time to head out to the doctor. This burning followed a number of sexual encounters, such that it made my partner concerned that sex was hurting me. Luckily, this wasn’t the case and we found out the underlying issue, which I’ll talk about in a later post. For now, I’m going to give you some tricks and tips on dealing with your first or your 101st UTI.

Prevention

The best treatment is prevention and I stand by that. If you can avoid having an infection that’s the most optimal case. I’ve seen a few tips posted all over so I’m going to share a few here for you.

  • Stay hydrated, pee when you need to: If you’re dehydrated and/or not going when you need to, you’re more susceptible to infection. Regularly staying hydrated will make harder for bacteria to hang out inside you!
  • D-Mannose: This is a powder that when taken orally makes it difficult for the bacteria to hang out in you as well. It sort of…coats your insides so that bacteria can’t hold onto the walls of your body.
  • Cranberry: This is what everyone claims works, but I’m honestly a little skeptical. If you do want to try cranberry, it’s unlikely to hurt you, but make sure you get something without sugar. If the juice is too tart for you to stomach (it was for me) then cranberry pills are a viable option.
  • Wipe front to back: This one is to prevent fecal matter from getting into your urethra and causing issue there.
  • Pee after sex, every time: This is to clear out whatever might’ve been pushed into your urethra from just about any form of sex, though it’s most common that people with vulvas get UTIs after penetrative sex.
  • Making sure both you and your partner have showered or freshened up: A) this is nice because they’ll smell nice and fresh and B) it’ll help prevent UTIs if you’re rinsed off before hand.

Following all of these is not a guarantee of preventing a UTI of course. You could be the most hydrated, cranberry-swilling, D-Mannose-swallowing babe out there and still come down with a UTI. However, these are the most common tips to avoid getting one.

Treatment

So what happens when you do get one? I do have some tips for those in the grip of an infection as well. These will make your infection suck less and will help you heal, as well as get a little pain relief.

  • Go to a doctor: The most important thing is that you get medication as quick as you can. While UTIs aren’t terribly dangerous at first, they can get worse, spreading to your bladder and kidneys. I’m not saying you’re immediately going to your kidneys, but this is something you should only ever sit on for a few days at most. Schedule an appointment as soon as you can so you can get better faster.
  • Hydrate: Drink lots of water. Find the biggest water bottle you have. Fill it and drink all of it. Then do it again. This will help flush your system and make getting over your infection easier.
  • AZO is your friend: These are over the counter drugs that are painkillers and will make your life more manageable as you wait to see the doctor. I recommend that every person with a vulva and every person who is dating a person with a vulva have something like this in the house along with Monistat. UTIs can cause some serious pain, and if you absolutely have to do things before going to the doctor, this will make your life much easier while you do it. But absolutely this is no substitute for going to the doctor.
  • Ice: For a little relief, you can fill a Ziploc with ice, wrap a washcloth around it and sit on it. Make sure there’s a barrier between the ice and your vulva, otherwise it could cause more pain!
  • Avoid sugar and caffeine: Sugar will make your body more inviting to bacteria, which you don’t want. Caffeine is a bladder irritant, and may make your pain worse. As sucky as it is, you might have to go decaf for a week so that you can heal.
  • Don’t have sex: Listen, the medication you’re going to take is likely going to make you feel better in 24-36 hours. You are not better yet. Take all of your medication and then wait until seven days have past before going for penetration again. Otherwise, you can make your infection worse or end up having a ‘partially treated’ UTI that necessitates another round of medication. It sucks, don’t do it.

With these tips in mind, you should start feeling better. Take the advice of your doctor and make sure that you’re hydrated and you should be well on your way to getting over a UTI in about a week. Take care y’all!

What to watch out for: Toxic Toys

“You get what you pay for,” is an adage that I have heard since I was old enough to have memories. Most often I heard it when I attempted to get something cheap that broke when I should’ve gotten something more expensive that would’ve lasted as long as I needed it. If you’ve ever met me in person, then you know I often get wound up about people buying toxic sex toys just because they’re cheap. But since you probably haven’t met me, I’ll go ahead and tell you that nothing upsets me quite as much as any sex toy made of materials that are unsafe. Unsafe materials include (but aren’t limited to):

  • PVC
  • Jelly
  • “Skin Safe” rubber
  • Latex (fine for condoms, they’re one use)
  • Cyberskin/Fantaflesh/Other proprietary TPE/TPR blends
  • TPE and TPR.

What makes these unsafe or toxic toy materials? Well the first thing to note is that all these materials are porous, meaning that they’re all going to hold onto bacteria from use and can harbor viruses, mold and fungi. This happens due to the fact that after you use your toy, you can’t clean the microscopic pores of the toy where bacteria have made a home. No anti bacterial toy cleaner will help, as this will still only clean the surface of your toy and not penetrate the pores. Since you can’t clean it, bacteria, mold and other nasties will have free reign to grow in your toy while you store it. This means when you go to use your toy again, you risk giving yourself an illness or infection from the bacteria you reintroduce into your body. This can lead to chronic yeast infections, UTIs and potentially STIs if shared with someone who was positive for an STI.

In addition to this porous nature, these materials are also subject to a host of other problems: unstable material, potential for having pthalates in the material, and toxicity of the material. Unstable materials are bad for a variety of a reasons. These toys will “sweat” meaning they might leach oil or melt under certain conditions. Two toys in an unstable material will react with each other and might melt into each other. If they’re reacting to each other this way and degrading day by day simply by existing, what these toys are doing in the human body is a horrible thing to consider. In both the anus and the vagina, there are mucus membranes and susceptible ecosystems. Subjecting either to the toxic toys and you could very easily upset this delicate ecosystems. Further more, these unstable materials have the potential to have a nasty chemical reaction inside your body. With this in mind, these toys are best avoided.

What are some safe materials then? Well, there are plenty! They include:

  • Silicone
  • Glass (borosilicate or soda lime)
  • Wood (properly sealed)
  • Stone (properly sealed)
  • Ceramic (with the correct glaze)
  • ABS Plastic
  • Stainless Steel

All of these materials are non-porous and non-toxic. They can be sanitized by boiling (if not a vibrator) or being spritzed with a ten percent bleach solution and then rinsed thoroughly. These materials will not degrade over time, are not able to hold onto bacteria, are sterilizable, waterproof and overall the most hygienic and body-safe options for toy materials.

These body-safe toys range in price, and so almost anyone can find a toy at a price point they can afford. SheVibe possesses a range of stock where you can find inexpensive toy options by searching from low to high pricing. Also, both Funkit Toys and Uberrime have put out new lines of affordable body-safe dildos which look great for people looking for their first dildo.

If you’re curious about sex toy material and safety, I’ve provided a little extra reading here below:

Dangerous Lilly’s Platinum Silicone Myths

Dangerous Lilly’s Toxic Toy Guide

Epiphora – Your Genitals Deserve Better

Now armed with some basic knowledge of what to watch out for, you’ll have a much better time in purchasing and using sex toys. So go forth and buy toys!