Skip to content

    Incontinence & Overactive Bladder Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Do Diaphragms Cause Urinary Tract Infections?

    As it turns out, they do -- but the reason may surprise you.
    By
    WebMD Magazine - Feature
    Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

    In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics, including some of the most common beliefs about medicine. In our September 2011 issue, we asked Jane Miller, MD, an associate professor of urology at Washington University's School of Medicine, about the link between diaphragms and painful bladder infections.

    Q: My friend says I'm getting urinary tract infections because I use a diaphragm. Is she right?

    Recommended Related to Urinary Incontinence/OAB

    At the Gym With Incontinence

    You're toiling on the treadmill, Stairmaster, or recumbent bicycle -- and the accident happens: a little urinary incontinence. Small leaks can occur whether you're a teen or a woman in her 20s and upward. Often incontinence starts after childbirth or as the result of athletic injuries. Some men have incontinence problems after prostate surgery. "Unfortunately, people [with incontinence] stop doing things they enjoy, like high-impact aerobics," says Roger Dmochowski, MD, a urologist and director...

    Read the At the Gym With Incontinence article > >

    A: It's TRUE. Diaphragm use can contribute to urinary tract infections.

    The reason is that urinary tract infections (common symptoms include burning pain and a constant need to pee), get triggered by bacteria, most often E. coli, which lives in the colon and rectum. And diaphragms are used with spermicides, "which can kill off the protective bacteria in the vagina, as well as change the pH balance of the vagina," Miller says. "This can increase growth of the kinds of bacteria that cause UTIs and bring it closer to the urethra and ultimately the bladder."

    If you have recurring infections, you may be better off using alternative birth control methods, such as an IUD or the Pill. General tips for avoiding bladder infections include: Drinking plenty of water, peeing when you need to (instead of "holding" it), and wiping from front to back after urinating and bowel movements.

    Reviewed on June 15, 2011

    Today on WebMD

    womens restroom sign
    Symptoms, causes, and treatments.
    hand over mouth
    Test your urine knowledge.
     
    man breathing with mouth open
    Is it true that men can do kegels?
    bathroom sign running
    Assess your symptoms.
     
    woman holding water
    Slideshow
    Food That Makes You Gotta Go
    Slideshow
     
    Male Incontinence Slideshow
    Slideshow
    Mature woman standing among peers
    Article
     
    Worried in bed
    Article
    woman standing in front of restroom sign
    Slideshow
     
    various pills
    Video
    sitting in chair
    Article