It is estimated that 20% of women will experience at least one urinary tract infection in their lifetime. Other women seem to suffer with a UTI on a more regular basis. There are various causes of UTIs, and some may wonder if pubic hair plays a role. While the presence of pubic hair may help prevent some cases of UTIs, most women will get this infection due to other reasons. When women ask, ‘what causes recurrent UTIs?’, it is important to look at the different factors involved. For many women, the best way to prevent an infection is to learn how to avoid a UTI after sex.
Why Keeping Your Hair May Prevent Infections
Pubic hair is not just there for show, as it does have a purpose. Some of its functions include:
- Preventing foreign particles like dust and bacteria from entering your body
- Controlling temperature by reducing the loss of heat
- Promoting touch reception
- Reducing friction, which prevents skin injury, abrasion and irritation
Despite its function, many women choose to remove some of the hair for reasons such as hygiene, self-esteem or because their partner prefers it that way. There are numerous methods that women may choose from when thinking of trimming or removing their pubic hair. These methods include shaving, waxing and laser removal.
While waxing and lasers require less frequent removal, all of them do require upkeep. This can cause regular irritation of the hair follicles and this, combined with the warm environment surrounding the genitals, can attract bacteria. This, in turn, may result in more frequent UTIs, especially in women who shave.
Other Ways to Prevent Recurrent UTIs
While keeping some, if not all, pubic hair may cut down on the number of bacteria in the vaginal area, the best UTI prevention may revolve around good hygiene practices, sexual activity precautions and diet. In regard to hygiene, women should always wipe front to back after going to the bathroom, as this prevents bacteria from the rectum from getting to the urinary tract. Other good practices include:
- Taking showers and avoiding long baths
- Using tampons for periods
- Washing properly and rinsing well in the bath or shower
- Emptying the bladder a minimum of every four hours
- Wearing cotton underwear and avoiding tight undergarments
Sexual activity can push bacteria into the bladder, which is why it is important to empty the bladder immediately after intercourse. Couples should also avoid using spermicidal jelly, as this kills the normal vaginal flora that helps suppress pathogenic bacteria. After sex, women should also drink two extra glasses of water, as higher fluid intake is associated with repeat UTIs.
Along with drinking more water, women may be able to avoid urinary tract infections by taking a probiotic. This is a natural way to promote and maintain the natural bacteria of the vagina, which helps balance vaginal pH.
Take Steps to Prevent UTIs
Pubic hair may prevent some prevalence of infection, but women who follow other prevention methods should be able to avoid them without worrying about what to do with their hair. Ultimately, what a woman does with her hair is her choice. Better ways of keeping UTIs at bay include following instructions on how to avoid a UTI after sex, practicing good hygiene, drinking water and using a probiotic.