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Cycling & UTI: Can Cycling Cause Them? How To Prevent Them (4 Tips)

Do you know that biking can cause urinary tract infections (UTIs)? Here are 5 tips to help protect yourself from UTIs while cycling.

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If you are a female cyclist, you might have wondered if cycling can cause UTIs. The answer to this question is somewhat tricky. Cycling can improve your cardiovascular health and lower your chances of developing cardiovascular problems. But it may also cause microtrauma in the urinary system, leading to UTIs. So, can cycling result in urinary tract infections?

Cycling increases your chances of having a UTI because cycling puts a lot of strain on your bladder and urethra. Bacteria can travel from your bladder to your kidneys and then to your urinary tract. So, if you cycle frequently, it’s critical to watch your symptoms carefully and treat any UTIs as soon as possible.

In this article, you will learn what a UTI is and what the symptoms of a UTI are. And how to prevent a UTI so you can avoid pain and discomfort.

Image of doctor looking at charts on yellow backdrop. Source: gustavo fring, pexels
image of doctor looking at charts on yellow backdrop. Source: Gustavo Fring, Pexels

Editor’s note: This article was updated on June 30, 2022, to include additional information about what can cause UTIs. I am not a doctor. Please speak to your doctor for professional medical advice.

Before learning about the cause of UTIs, let’s first understand what a UTI is.

What is a UTI?

A UTI is an infection of the urinary system, including the bladder, urethra, and surrounding tissues. Bacteria most often cause this condition, but viruses can also cause it. Symptoms of a UTI include frequent urination, pelvic pain during intercourse or delivery, a temperature exceeding 37 degrees Celsius (99 degrees Fahrenheit), and burning in the bathroom.

If left untreated, a UTI can lead to significant complications such as renal failure and, in extreme situations, death. Therefore, antibiotics are often taken intravenously or orally, along with other measures such as bed rest and hydration therapy.

Image of toilet paper roll on light blue background: source: claire mueller, unsplash
Image of toilet paper roll on a light blue background: Source: Claire Mueller, Unsplash

What are the symptoms of a UTI?

Symptoms vary from person to person and are dependent on the bacteria. As with most infections, you may experience a fever and a general sense of illness. Women are more prone to experiencing mild to moderate abdominal and pelvic pain.

The most common symptom is the need to use the restroom more frequently. You may only be able to pass a few drops at a time, despite the bursting sense of urgency to urinate. Passing urine may become uncomfortable later in the infection’s progression. It may blister and burn, and even the smallest drops can be excruciating. Finding blood in your pee is one of the most obvious symptoms that things aren’t quite right. Cloudy, pinkish, or stinky pee indicates that some harmful bacteria have gotten out of hand.

Five Tips to Help Cyclists Prevent a UTI

Below are some of the best ways for cyclists to prevent a urinary tract infection.

1. Clean yourself often

Carry baby wipes with you and clean yourself many times daily, always wiping from front to back. Below are some products you can use to keep yourself healthy and help prevent UTIs.

2. Wear clean clothes

Your cycling shorts* are a bacterial breeding ground. They’re sweaty, pressed against your body, and provide no ventilation. Keeping your bike shorts (and yourself) clean is the best way to avoid a UTI. This usually means washing the absorbent pad of your cycling shorts every night and wearing a clean pair while the old ones dry for the next day.

Also, don’t “hang out” in your cycling shorts for any longer than necessary; change into clean, dry, loose-fitting gear soon after your daily ride.

3. Stay hydrated

As if you needed another incentive to stay hydrated! Staying hydrated is essential for all aspects of your bike journey, and peeing frequently aids in the removal of bacteria from your urethra. Drink at least a liter of water before you start cycling for the day, especially in the morning.

4. Don’t ignore it

Consult a medical professional. Don’t put off getting a diagnosis, even if you’re in so much pain that you don’t want to. If you wait, the infection may progress and spread to the kidneys, causing a more serious health condition.

Image of female doctor with lab coat and stethoscope. Source: tima miroshnichwenko, pexels
Image of female doctor with lab coat and stethoscope. Source: Tima Miroshnichwenko, Pexels

How to treat a UTI

If you do get a UTI, there are numerous options for treatment. Two of the most recommended are below.

Drink water

If you fear you have a UTI, drink plenty of water and start peeing… a lot. Cranberry juice and do-it-yourself cranberry juice (and other UTI-treating herbs or drugs) if available.

Take antibiotics

Go to a health clinic and hospital and take a day off to consult with a medical specialist for a diagnosis. You may need antibiotics. These UTIs may turn ugly quickly, so it’s best to stay ahead.

If you want even more tips, watch this video called Is Cycling Bad For Men’s Sexual Health? GCN Talks Bo***cks from the Global Cycling Network YouTube Channel.

A video called Is Cycling Bad For Men’s Sexual Health? GCN Talks Bo***cks from the Global Cycling Network YouTube Channel.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about cycling and UTIs.

Can men get UTIs?

Yes, UTIs can occur in men. However, the risk is modest, and there are techniques to avoid it. Bacteria enter the urinary tract and grow fast, causing UTIs. Female bikers are more susceptible to urinary tract infections than males. If you develop a UTI, it is critical to treat it as soon as possible since the longer it goes untreated, the greater the risk of a more severe infection.

Are there other sports that can cause a UTI?

Cycling isn’t the only sport that might cause UTIs. Swimming, running, strength training, and gymnastics are some activities that raise your risk of UTIs. To avoid UTIs when cycling, drink plenty of fluids and take recommended antibiotics if you get symptoms such as a burning sensation when peeing or a severe headache.

Are cyclists more prone to UTIs?

Cyclists may be more prone to UTIs because there’s a lot of intensity near the bladder when cycling. However, studies have shown little to no differences in urinary symptoms between cyclists and noncyclists, although cyclists were more likely to have previously experienced a UTI.

Can biking cause painful urination?

Biking itself won’t cause painful urination, but a UTI can. In addition, excessive pressure can cause urethral injury and infection.

Can cycling cause bloody urine?

After severe exercise, there may be visible blood in the urine. While crimson urine after severe activity may not disclose any abnormalities in many men and women, it may suggest significant urological and medical concerns in many others. Although blood in the urine may resolve after a single episode, this does not rule out the possibility of severe underlying disease. Therefore, if you have blood in your urine, contact your doctor right away.

Conclusion

Cycling, as you know, is a terrific method to get your blood flowing and lose weight, but you should be aware of the risks that come with it. UTI is one such danger. If you have any concerns regarding UTIs, consult your doctor.

This article covered what a UTI is, what the symptoms are, and how to prevent UTIs. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • A UTI is an infection that affects the bladder, the urethra, and the tissues around them.
  • If you don’t treat a UTI, it can lead to serious problems like kidney failure or even death in the worst cases.
  • Keeping your bike shorts (and yourself) clean is the best way to avoid a UTI.
  • Drink plenty of water.

So, have you ever had a UTI? Did we cover everything you wanted to know? Let us know in the comments section below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out our full blog for more tips and tricks on fixed-gear and single-speed cycling. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.

Helpful resources

Image of doctor looking at charts on yellow backdrop. Pinterest 2
Image of doctor looking at charts on yellow backdrop.
Author avatar - Bradley Knight
Written By Bradley Knight
As a native New Yorker, Bradley is no stranger to the fixed gear scene. He’s been riding fixed for over ten years. When he’s not on the bike, you can find him practicing his many hobbies including playing guitar, video production, and photography.

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