- Gynaecological infections
Women are prone to urinary tract infections due to a short urethra (urine tract opening) and the proximity of the urethra to the vagina. Trauma to the urethra especially during intercourse can also increase the risk of urinary tract infections. Intercourse can sometimes also put women at risk of vaginal infections or pelvic infections through sexually transmitted infections (STI). If infections are left untreated, complications ranging from kidney infections to infertility can arise.
- Urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections (UTI) refer to infections of the urinary system and can occur in the kidneys, bladder or urethra. Fortunately, most UTIs happen in the lower tract of the bladder and urethra. UTIs are more common in women compared to men. This is as the women’s urethra is shorter and thus easier for bacteria to enter the bladder and cause infections.
Common symptoms of UTI include pain on urination (dysuria), need to run to the loo often (frequency), urge to urination (urgency), blood in the urine (haematuria) and lower abdominal discomfort. Symptoms suggestive of a more serious UTI include high fever, back or flank pain and persistent vomiting and severe lethargy.
UTIs would usually need a course of antibiotics for treatment and if left untreated could lead to complications like severe kidney infections. As important as antibiotics are measures to lower the risk of UTIs. These measures include drinking sufficient water daily to ensure a healthy urinary system, wiping from front to back to avoid faecal matter contaminating the urethra, clearing your bladder after intercourse to flush any bacteria introduced during intercourse and drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements.
- Vaginal infections and vaginal discharge
The vagina is somewhat like the intestine in that it contains abundant amounts of naturally occurring bacteria. These bacteria do not cause infection and in fact are important for a healthy vagina environment. Sometimes the balance of the bacteria in the vagina is affected by hormone changes, stress, temperature or illness. When this happens there can be yeast or bacterial overgrowth leading to yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis. Often vaginal infections can lead to discharge with yeast infections giving a classical cheesy thick white discharge while bacterial vaginosis can give a greyish discharge with a fishy smell. Other symptoms of vaginal infections include, itch, discomfort during intercourse, mild lower abdominal pain and occasional bleeding from the vagina.
To determine the cause of the vaginal infection would usually require a swab test sent to the lab. Treatment recommendations would then be guided based on the swab test results. Sometimes a course of antibiotics is needed while in some other cases pessaries would be required to clear the infection. Do consult our doctors if you have any queries regarding possible vaginal infections.