Experiencing urinary tract infections (UTIs) every time one travels is often a common complaint. This can definitely be a frustrating and troublesome experience and very commonly the “public toilets” are made the culprits for this.
But do public toilets really cause UTIs?
Please note that when we use public toilets, none of our private parts including the urethral opening or the vulva touch any part of the toilet. And to take further care of this same thing, we often try to pee while hovering above the toilet seat without sitting on it. Now peeing in this position does not allow the pelvic floor muscles to relax adequately and this in turn does not allow the urine in the bladder to void completely. Hence a small quantity of urine stays behind. This small quantity is not enough to incite a reflex or urge of wanting to pee and hence stays in the bladder till the bladder gets full again. Any kind of fluid staying in the body for long attracts bacteria- leading to the beginning of an infection.
Secondly, the scare of using public washrooms often makes us drink less water- leading to dehydration and concentrated urine, which again is one of the reasons for urinary infections.
Thirdly, as we try to avoid using public washrooms, or at times, find it challenging to find them or due to various reasons like long journeys or lack of suitable facilities, we tend to hold the urine for extended periods. This also facilitates the growth and multiplication of bacteria in the urinary tract and leads to infections.
What can you do to avoid this?
- Even while travelling, drink plenty of water.
- When using public washrooms, carry a seat sanitiser with you to clean the seat before using.
- Please sit down properly on the seat before voiding urine- you may want to use a paper/ newspaper cutting to keep on the seat before using it.
- If Indian type washrooms are available, consider using them against western toilets.
- Try to use washrooms as often as possible in anticipation of long journeys and unavailability of washrooms later on.
While these can be general reasons and general measures, certain other reasons like vaginal dryness around menopause can also lead to frequent urinary infections. It's advisable to consult a healthcare professional or a urologist who can evaluate your specific situation, provide a proper diagnosis, and offer personalised advice and treatment options.
Remember, the information provided here is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.