I recently I began having pain in my bladder/urethra when I move or sit a certain way. I also have pain when I pee as well. Could I have a urinary tract infection (UTI)? I am scared to tell my parents, help!

Thanks for your question. It’s possible that you have a urinary tract infection; however, the only way to know for sure is to see your primary care provider (PCP). Your provider will be able to tell if you have a UTI or if something else is causing your symptoms. You will likely be asked to pee into a cup so that your urine can be checked for bacteria. UTIs are a common type of infection where bacteria (germs) enter your urethra (opening where urine comes out) and up into your bladder. Anyone can get a UTI; children, teens, women, and men. UTIs are not contagious, meaning you cannot pass them from person to person. It is very important to tell your PCP if you are sexually active, as you may need STI testing as well. Treatment is available for both UTIs and STIs, with the right medications your symptoms should begin to improve within a few days.

For the future, here are some tips that are helpful for some young women trying to lower their chance of getting another UTIs: drinking 8-10 large glasses/day of water, pee or empty your bladder every 2 hours, some doctors also recommend urinating right after sex to “get rid of” any bacteria that may enter your urethra during sex, and finally several studies have found that  drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry extract can lower your risk of repeated UTIs (but will not treat or cure UTI) in some people. Antibiotics are used not just for treatment of UTIs but sometimes for prevention.

I am 17 years old and my period is strong. I end up spending the first day at home and missing school/work because my cramps are so painful. I also have nausea and become light headed. Is this normal?

painful crampsGreat question! Getting your period can cause mild cramps on the first day or two, but it shouldn’t cause you to stay home from school, work, or social events. Dysmenorrhea (pronounced: dis–men–o–ree–a) is a medical term for difficult or painful periods. There are two types of dysmenorrhea; primary and secondary. The most common type is primary dysmenorrhea, cramping that occurs in the lower abdomen (belly),  can start 1-2 days before your period and last 2-4 days. Girls may also experience lower back pain, nausea, vomiting, loose bowel movements/diarrhea,  and/or lightheadedness. Primary dysmenorrhea usually gets better with over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications such as Ibuprofen or naproxen. If possible, you should begin taking NSAIDs 1-2 days before your period starts to help relieve discomfort. You may also find it helpful to track your periods – knowing when your pain is at its worst can be helpful, and finally, introducing a heating pad may also provide additional relief.

If the discomfort persists or becomes stronger, you may have secondary dysmenorrhea. Secondary dysmenorrhea can be caused by a medical condition known as endometriosis, which occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus is found outside of its normal location. This can cause pain before and/or during a girl’s menstrual cycle.  It is important that you schedule an appointment with your primary care provider (PCP) and share your symptoms, their intensity, and the things you have tried to relieve your symptoms. Your PCP may prescribe birth control pills to lessen the flow.  If you still have pain, check in with your PCP about seeing a  gynecologist to consider whether you might have endometriosis.

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