Sitting atop your delicates in sweaty spandex for days on end, as we do on a bike tour, creates an opportunity for bacteria to party. It’s a most uncomfortable party for cyclists called a urinary tract infection (UTI).
A UTI is an infection in any one or more parts of your urinary system, including kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder. If left unattended, a UTI could move into the kidneys, creating a more serious condition.
The most common symptoms of a UTI include discomfort or pain during urination and a frequent urge to relieve yourself. Pinkish or cola-colored urine indicates blood in the urine.
If you’ve ever had a UTI, you’ll never forget the cruel combination of the urgent need to pee and the knowledge that it’s going to hurt. And you’ll never want to repeat the experience.
Any cyclist can contract a urinary tract infection but female cyclists are at a higher risk simply due to their anatomy. (You know what I'm talking about, gals!)
If you suspect you have a UTI, visit a healthcare professional as soon as possible to get a diagnosis. Treatment with antibiotics may be necessary.
Luckily there are ways to avoid the dreaded UTI.
Carry baby wipes and clean yourself multiple times per day, wiping front to back.
Always wear clean, dry cycling shorts. Immediately after your daily ride, change into clean, dry, loose-fitting clothing.
Drink plenty of water and relieve yourself frequently! This ensures that bacteria can be flushed from your urinary tract before infection begins.
Visit a healthcare professional. Don’t wait to get a diagnosis, although it’s likely you’ll be in such discomfort that you won’t want to. However, if you do wait, the infection can worsen and move into the kidneys, creating a more serious health problem.