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Your (Most Intimate) Health Questions -- Answered

Get the scoop on urinary tract infections, painful sex, incontinence and more.

Many of us will be affected by a pelvic-health disorder sometime in our lives, say experts, but we're often too embarrassed to address such concerns to our doctors and end up suffering unncessarily. We've done the asking for you: Read on for more details of the common gynaecological problems, why they happen and what you can do.

Urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is characterized by frequent and painful urination. It is more common among women in their 20s because they tend to have more sex as well as more sexual partners. This increases the odds that the various types of bacteria living on the skin near the vagina and rectum will travel up into the urethra during intercourse.

Another contributing factor is the use of condoms, especially those that come with spermicide: Researchers have found that spermicides like nonoxynol-9 can upset the normal vagina flora and increase likelihood of a urinary tract infection.

What you can do: These measures will help keep your urinary tract free from unwanted bacteria: Urinate right after intercourse, always wipe front to back and wear breathable cotton underwear. The cotton helps keep the vulva area free from heat and moisture. And don't forget to drink sufficient fluids to stay hydrated, so you’ll pee more often and flush bacteria from your urinary tract regularly. To treat urinary infection, see your doctor for antibiotics.

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