366 Problems of the Urine System
A girl or woman of
any age—even a
small baby—can get
an infection of her
I hope the truck
stops soon so I can
➤ Teach little girls the
correct way to wipe
after passing stool.
There are 2 main kinds of urine system infections. A bladder
infection is the most common and the easiest to treat. A
kidney infection is very serious. It can lead to permanent
damage to the kidney and even death.
What causes bladder and kidney infections?
Infections of the urine system are caused by germs (bacteria).
They get into the body from the outside through the urinary
opening near the vagina. Infection is more common in women
than in men because a woman’s lower urine tube is short. Germs
climb more easily up the short tube into the bladder.
Germs enter a woman’s body or multiply when she:
• has sex. During sex, germs from the vagina and anus can be
pushed up through the urinary opening into the lower urine
tube. This is one of the most common causes of a bladder
infection in women. To prevent infection, pass urine after having
sex. This washes out the urine tube (but does not prevent
• does not drink enough, especially if she works outside in
hot weather and sweats a lot. Germs will start to multiply in
the empty bladder. Try to drink at least 8 glasses or cups
(2 liters) of liquid a day. When working in the hot sun or
in a hot room, drink even more.
• goes for a long time without urinating (for
example, when traveling or working). Not
urinating allows germs in the urine system to
multiply which can cause an infection. Try to pass
urine every 3 to 4 hours.
• does not keep her genitals clean. Germs from the
genitals—and especially the anus—can get into the
urinary opening and cause infection. Try to wash
the genitals every day, and always wipe from front
to back after passing stool (see page 154). Wiping
forward can spread germs from the anus into the
urinary opening. Also, try to wash your genitals
before having sex. Keep the cloth and pads used for your
monthly bleeding very clean between uses.
• has a disability, especially those from back‑bone (spinal cord)
injuries, or with a loss of feeling in the lower body. For more
information, see the books Where There Is No Doctor and
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities.
• has HIV infection, which makes it more difficult for the
woman to fight infection.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012