The Negative Impact UTIs Can Have On Your Quality Of Life

A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is an unpleasant and often uncomfortable infection that generally impacts the lower urinary tract, although the entire urinary system can be affected. The symptoms include pelvic pain (in women), a strong and persistent urge to urinate, burning during urination, and cloudy or even bloody urine.

According to the Office on Women's Health, women are 30 times more likely to develop UTIs than men. Due to the fact that women have a shorter urethra than men do, as well as the location of the urethra (close to the vagina and the anus), women are more vulnerable to bacteria being able to enter the urethra and the bladder, leading to infection.

A 2013 study published in the Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal showed that around half of women will have a UTI in their lifetime. Conversely, about 12% of men are impacted by UTIs (via the Urology Center of Florida).

Despite this disparity, both men and women can be impacted by UTIs and see their quality of life negatively affected.

UTIs can affect everything from work to sex

A 2023 study published in PLoS ONE showed that UTIs had a significant impact on women's daily lives. According to the study, more than 60% of women had their sleep disrupted by UTIs, while nearly 67% said that their sex life had been impacted.

Additionally, more than half the women polled said that having a urinary tract infection made exercise a challenge and nearly half of them had a hard time interacting socially. The women profiled in this study also found that their productivity at work was impaired, and that they had to pay medical expenses, particularly for UTI treatments such as antibiotics.

Men have also found their quality of life affected by issues involving the urinary tract, according to a 2015 study published in the International Neurourology Journal. That study showed that men with urinary tract symptoms reported lower work productivity and higher instances of depression. They also reported less enjoyment with sex and more cases of erectile dysfunction.

Prevention can make a difference

If you are concerned about contracting a urinary tract infection, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk (via Healthline). For example, if you are a woman, you should employ careful wiping after urinating (front to back) or consider even using a spray bottle (again, front to back) to clean up after using the bathroom.

Many experts recommend urinating shortly after sex. If you do this, yet still get UTIs due to sex, then Healthline suggests drinking water after sex and then only going to the bathroom when you feel like your bladder is full. You can also add vitamin C to your diet to increase the acidity of your urine and help prevent infections from forming.

For men, good hygiene is paramount in keeping UTIs at bay, including washing the genitals regularly, and cleaning them before and after sex as well. For men who aren't circumcised, it's important to clean diligently around and under the foreskin after showering. 

Given the impact that UTIs can have on the quality of life for both men and women, the best thing to do is try to prevent them before they even form. You should see your doctor if you notice signs of a UTI, especially if symptoms are severe or last longer than a few days. If you experience more than two UTIs per year, that's also an issue to discuss with your doctor.