Here's a good reason to pee in the ocean the next time you're at the beach: It could prevent a painful urinary tract infection. UTIs are terrible no matter the season, but when you're spending a lot of time in a bathing suit in the summer, it can seem like they happen constantly.
"There is some data that UTIs are more frequent in the summer, mainly for younger women ages 17 to 44," says Raquel B. Dardik, MD, an Ob/Gyn at NYU Langone Medical Center. There's no specific explanation why this is, but it's probably a combination of being dehydrated and not urinating enough, she says.
Some people think that wearing a bathing suit causes UTIs, but that isn't entirely true. Sure, hanging around in a wet bathing suit isn't a great idea for vaginal health in general, because the dark and moist environment is like a playground for bacteria. But bathing suits wont actually cause a UTI.
Usually, you get a UTI because bacteria that's normally found in your bowels ends up in your urinary tract via your urethra, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). This can happen when you don't wipe well, or wipe from the back to the front, Dr. Dardik says. And if you're having lots of summertime sex, be sure to pee before and after, and wipe well again. In general, people with vaginas are more likely to get UTIs because they have a shorter urethra than someone with a penis, according to the NIDDK.
Urine usually pushes the bacteria out of your urinary tract, but if you hold your bladder for extended periods of time, or your immune system is compromised, then you might end up with a UTI, according to the NIDDK. That said, you're not doomed to a summer of UTIs just because you have a vagina.
Staying hydrated is your first line of defense, Dr. Dardik says — and using all that hydration to pee. "Women get more dehydrated in the summer, and may urinate less frequently," she says. This can be tricky at the beach or pool, if you don't have access to a bathroom (or you're squeamish about peeing with the fish), but holding it in means you're not flushing out any bacteria that may have made its way into your urinary tract.
If you do have a UTI, hydration can also help, but try to avoid drinks that could irritate your bladder, like coffee or alcohol, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Whether you're at a pool party, at the beach, or at your summer fling's house, make sure you pee regularly in order to prevent a urinary tract infection. It can be annoying to deal with peeling off your suit every few hours or finding a beach bathroom to use, but it's definitely worth it. "Whatever the reason, it is wise to make sure to stay hydrated and wipe properly," Dr. Dardik says.