After the launch of the Right to Pee campaign, there has been a lot of awareness about the need for public urinals. So it`s time we understand why this facility is so important and why the lack of it affects women far more than it does men.
Dr Kamakshi Bhate, associate professor with the department of preventive and social medicine at KEM hospital and a member-secretary of MCGM’s Gender Resource Centre, talks to Pooja Bhula, about the link between inadequate urinals and diseases common to women.
Why is holding in so harmful?
Your kidney does the function of filtering and re-filtering your blood and throws out all the toxins into the urinary bladder in the form of urine. When these toxins remain in the bladder for long, different bacteria are generated, leading to different types of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
What does the urinary tract comprise and why are women more prone to UTIs?
The urinary tract includes the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder and urethra.
Besides the social mores, which prevent women in India from expressing their need to use the washroom but allow men to pee in the open, the anatomy of men and women also differs. A woman’s bladder can store less urine because it is smaller than a man’s. Even a woman’s urinary tract is smaller than a man’s, such that the distance between a woman’s anus, used for excretion, and urethra is less. This is another factor that makes women more prone to infections and diseases.
What are the other diseases it can cause?
UTI itself is very problematic and difficult to treat. For example, if you get a boil, the doctor can make a cut on it, remove the puss and treat you with antibiotics.
But you can’t clear all the urine in one go as it’s constantly generated; this makes the treatment period lengthy and expensive, and women have to endure the uneasiness for the duration.
Any infection can harm pregnant women or lead to miscarriage and chances of UTI increase in pregnant women. This is because when the womb expands, it puts pressure on the bladder, causing the bladder to shrink and its capacity to decrease. Hence, pregnant women pass urine more often.
UTIs can also lead to vaginal infections, and repeated urinary infection can lead to anaemia because, to constantly fight a disease, the body produces more white blood cells and production of red blood cells decreases.
Is it true that holding in can lead to kidney stones?
It is one of the reasons. To avoid the ‘need to go’ women often drink less water, which leads to saturation of toxins that overtime crystalise into stones. This can occur in any part of the urinary tract, including kidneys. In fact, repeated infection can also cause chronic renal disease, in which the kidneys don’t produce enough urine.
Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections:
-Frequent urge to pass urine
-Pain in lower abdomen
-Pain in renal area
To avoid urinary tract infections:
-Drink at least 3 liters of water a day
-Don’t hold your urine for long
-Maintain personal hygiene and cleaning yourself properly every time you urinate
-Take treatments for infections promptly