I hope you are all having a great Sunday, or have been, you are probably already finishing your day in other parts of the world. And I wish you all a great week ahead.
When doing general practice consultations one tends to see certain illnesses frequently, for example, if we are in a rainy season consultations for flu pictures will abound, and so on with some pathologies, however, there is one that is very frequent regardless of the season, and these are urinary tract infections. But there is an interesting detail here, most of the people who consult for this particular type of infections are female, being up to 30 times more common in women than in men.
It is a very high figure that makes a big difference, did you know it?, if not, find out, but the reasons for this are particular, and that is what I would like to talk to you about next, I invite you to keep reading because what I have to tell you will surely interest you.
A urinary tract infection is an infection that affects the urinary tract, which includes the bladder, kidneys, urethra and ureters. Keep in mind that most urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria.
A brief count of the symptoms that a person with a urinary tract infection usually feels, and these are for both men and women:
- Pain or burning when urinating.
- Frequent need to urinate.
- Sensation of not completely emptying the bladder.
- Strong-smelling or cloudy urine.
- Pressure or pain in the lower abdomen.
- Fever or chills (in severe cases).
- Pain in the back or side (in cases of kidney infection).
It is not the purpose of this publication to explain in detail what a urinary tract infection is or the causes, but to make clear what are the substantial differences between men and women, in terms of anatomy that make women come more often to consult for a urinary tract infection.
What is commonly known is that there are anatomical differences that favor the recurrence of infections in women, additionally, there is a cultural issue that also plays a role in this, but that is not what I am referring to.
There is a particularity of men that makes them less predisposed to urinary tract infections, I will detail this later.
It is already clear that women are more likely to have urinary tract infections than men because of their anatomy, and some physiological peculiarities unique to women, but what are these differences? let's see below:
Short urethra: the female urethra is shorter than the male urethra, which means that germs have a shorter path to reach the bladder.
Location of the urethra: the female urethra is close to the anus, which can increase the likelihood of bacterial contamination.
Use of contraceptives: the use of contraceptives such as diaphragms or spermicides may increase the likelihood of urinary tract infections.
Menstruation: during menstruation, hormonal changes and the presence of blood in the area may increase the risk of urinary tract infections.
Pregnancy: during pregnancy, the pressure of the bladder and uterus on the urethra can increase the risk of urinary tract infections.
Here I would like to add the fact that women usually hold the urge to urinate a lot because they will not sit on any toilet, unlike men, who find it easier to urinate anywhere.
It is easy to see in the picture above the difference between the size of the urethra in men and women, but it is here that I want to highlight an important point that gives men additional protection against urinary tract infections.
I am talking specifically about the prostate, which is a small, walnut-shaped gland that sits below the bladder and surrounds the urethra in men. The main function of the prostate is to produce a specific fluid that mixes with sperm during ejaculation. This essential fluid protects and nourishes the sperm, which helps ensure male fertility.
In addition to its reproductive function, the prostate also helps control urine flow by contracting and relaxing around the urethra during urination.
Men after 45-50 years of age must be very vigilant of this organ, as it can be a big problem for many, because it tends to increase in size, a process known as prostatic hyperplasia, or even cancer can develop, being the one that affects this particular glandular organ one of the most common in men.
Its function, which is not specifically to protect us from infections, has a strong preventive effect in terms of fighting bacteria. How does it do this? I will describe them below:
The prostate produces some bactericidal compounds, among which I must mention: ** **Lactic acid
Lactic acid: An acid that is produced in the prostate and helps to maintain an acidic environment in the urethra, which can prevent the growth of bacteria.
PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen):a protein produced by the prostate that can help prevent bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urethra and bladder.
Lytic peptidoglycan: compounds produced by the prostate that have activity against bacteria such as Escherichia coli.
These bactericidal compounds can help prevent urinary tract infections in men, but are not always sufficient to prevent them completely. However, beyond the anatomical characteristics that make women more prone to urinary tract infections, there is the fact that we men have this additional protection. And this means that at a statistical level there is a big difference in this aspect.
As you can see, statistically there is a clear prevalence of female gender in terms of urinary tract infections, but not only has to do with a predisposition to it at anatomical level, but there is also an additional protection in men, having a longer urethra, but there are some substances that are able to eliminate some bacteria and these are produced in the prostate.
I hope this publication has been informative for both men and women. If you have anything to add, you can leave it in the comments and we can all benefit from it.