Women have a lot to worry about when it comes to their health – hormonal changes, pains, infections, and the products that often come along with treating these ailments can seem overwhelming. One common infection that women face is Urinary Tract Infections or UTIs. Pads and pantyliners are another set of products and possible culprits of these infections, in addition to rashes, odor, and general discomfort, which pretty much defeats the purpose of the use of the products in the first place! So, why do women have to wear these products and how do they lead to Urinary Tract Infections?
Not All Pads are the Same
Pads, in essence, are made up of textiles and polymers. Textiles are cloth or woven fabric. Polymers are synthetic materials like plastics and resins. While you may think that every delicately packaged pad and liner in the feminine hygiene aisle is the same thing, there are a couple of reasons a woman may choose to wear a pad or a pantyliner.
Menstrual Pads & Liners – As almost all of us remember from middle school sex-ed class, women turn to these products during times of menstruation. By definition, menstruation is the periodic discharge from the vagina of blood, secretions, and disintegrating mucous membrane that lined the uterus. Oftentimes, women use pads to absorb the lost blood and additional fluids and protect skin, clothing, and surfaces. Varying in thickness for varying levels of flow and activity, these products are made of material meant specifically for the viscosity of menstrual flow. Women are usually instructed to wear the pad for no more than four hours to avoid irritation, infections, odor, or toxic shock syndrome.
Urinary Incontinence Pads – Women (and men!) may turn to pads or liners to help discreetly hide accidental urine leaks. Women are more likely than men to develop urinary incontinence due to anatomical differences, hormonal changes, and medical events exclusive to women such as childbirth and hysterectomies. Incontinence pads are made especially for urine, much like menstrual pads are made especially for blood and other vaginal secretions. Also much like menstrual pads, incontinence pads can only be worn for short periods of time before changing to avoid discomfort, odor, and infections like a UTI.
What is a UTI?
So, what is a Urinary Tract Infection, and how would wearing either one (or both) of these products potentially cause one to develop? According to the Mayo Clinic, a UTI is an infection in any part of your urinary system — your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract — the bladder and the urethra. Urinary tract infections typically occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder. Symptoms of a UTI in women include:
- A strong, persistent urge to urinate
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
- Urine that appears cloudy
- Urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-colored — a sign of blood in the urine
- Strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain — especially in the center of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone
The use of pads and liners, either for the use of hiding period or incontinence leaks, may increase your risk of developing the bacteria that could lead to a UTI. The pads keep the bacteria at a warm temperature right at the opening of the urethra. If you suffer from recurring UTIs, your doctor or gynecologist may suggest the use of tampons (if you’re still menstruating.)
SUI is the common urinary dysfunction that women face in which a sneeze, run, cough, or laugh can trigger involuntary leaks. These leaks vary in size from a couple of drops to enough that the leak is visible through clothing. Women with SUI often turn to incontinence products like pads and liners to regain confidence in their day-to-day life, only to face more concerns with their health and self-esteem. Worrying about odor, changing pads in public, and irritation are just some things that women should be concerned about when it comes to pads. Your risk of developing a UTI is increased, thus increasing your chances of developing a kidney infection. Plus, buying all of those pads adds up over time!
There is another solution made specifically for women suffering from Stress Urinary Incontinence or SUI, from the women’s health company Rinovum. Revive™ is a bladder support device that works from the inside out to protect against leaks for up to 12 hours a day. Made with soft, flexible silicone material to comfortably reduce leaks. Revive is one size and comes with an easy-to-use applicator, carrying case, and a month’s supply of replacement strings. It is easy to clean and store, so you can reuse it for up to 30 uses and save money and reduce waste! Use of any intravaginal device may increase the risk of getting a Urinary Tract Infection, however much like the use of a tampon reduces your risk of a UTI compared to a pad, Revive may reduce your risk compared to an incontinence pad.