Here’s something I never thought I’d say publicly: I have a urinary tract infection (UTI). And next time you have one, you should also be open about it, too.
Now, before the trolls privately message me with “This isn’t news! How dare you!” (it’s happened), hear me out.
It is a radical action for a woman to publicly state that she has a UTI, or any other “women’s health”-related issue.
This is because we are often treated as though our experiences with pain or ill health – and particularly when it’s related to our female anatomy – are disgusting, embarrassing or even non-existent.
How do I know this? Because, along with the physical discomfort and pain, I have also felt embarrassed and stressed by the social implications of having a UTI.
And I’ve decided that I don’t want to feel that way any more.
It is already difficult and physically painful to be a woman (hello, menstruation, cramps, endometriosis, vaginal births, caesareans, miscarriage, menopause, and so on). I don’t need to add the psychological pain of shame and self-hate to it.
These feelings of embarrassment and doubt began before even before I saw my doctor.
I was supposed to stay home that day and wait for a heating company to come over, as they were going to give me a quote for replacing my gas heating system (I live in Canberra, and it’s freezing).
Instead, I postponed it to the next day and went to the doctor instead.
The receptionist from the heating company was not happy about this, and asked over the phone why I couldn’t see the tradesmen that day.
I wanted to tell her that I had a UTI, and that I needed to get medication immediately, or it would get worse. But I was too embarrassed, and told her instead that it was a ‘medical emergency’, and would have to reschedule.
Ladies, if you have a UTI, you don’t need to feel ashamed! ❤️❤️❤️I’ve had a UTI (urinary tract infection) this week, and it sucks. I feel uncomfortable and unwell, and I’ve had to cancel a few things. But the thing that’s bugged me the most was my own attitude towards it: embarrassment and shame. On the day I went to the doctor to get antibiotics, I was supposed to have some tradespeople visit. Their office called to reschedule, and asked why I wouldn’t meet them at that time. I wanted to tell them that it was because I had a UTI, and if I didn’t get my medicine ASAP, it would get worse. But instead, I apologised and said that I was “sick” and had to make an emergency appointment, without explaining the true nature of my illness. After my doctor’s appointment, I was at a local supermarket, buying a giant bottle of cranberry juice, a common natural treatment for alleviating the symptoms of a UTI (I am also scoffing antibiotics, of course!) As I carried around the cranberry juice, I thought to myself, “I really hope no-one thinks I have a UTI.” ❤️❤️❤️ When I got home, I had a good think about why I felt so self-conscious about having a UTI. I realised that I had a learned, misogynistic attitude towards my own body. UTIs are most common amongst women, due to the design of our bodies. A UTI often occurs after sexual intercourse, and/or simply due to the fact that a woman’s urethra is short and closer to sources of bacteria from the vagina or anus. Essentially, I was ashamed of being a woman. ❤️❤️❤️ So after that realisation, I’ve been upfront with others about my condition. I’ve straight up told them that I have a UTI. Even my husband has become more woke to this, telling his colleagues he had to go home to help me with the kids, as I was sick with a UTI. ❤️❤️❤️ So, don’t be embarrassed or ashamed for having an infection – or anything – that is particular or common to women. We’re women and we’re tough. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta chug more cranberry juice. ????????????(This was originally posted to my illustration account, @littlecloudcarla! Follow me there if you like feminist comics!)
As I drove to my appointment, I began to rehearse what I would say to my doctor, like a barrister who wants to win a case for their client.