Dear SHIC,
I overheard my girlfriend complaining about how she’s always getting UTIs to her friend on the phone. I didn’t know what she was talking about and am afraid to ask. Is this just one of those mysterious “lady problem” things? Am I going to catch it?
—Caught or not?

Dear Caught,
UTI stands for urinary tract infection. It is not a sexually transmitted infection, but neither is it strictly a “lady problem” thing. UTIs come from germs, often bacteria, which get into the urethra. If they make their way up to the bladder or the kidneys, that’s when it can become an infection. UTIs are more common in women because the urethra is shorter and closer to the anus (generally the source of the bacteria).
If you really are concerned about getting a UTI yourself, here’s what you should be looking for: your pee is cloudy, bloody, and/or smelly; you’re running a low fever; it hurts/burns when you pee; or you find yourself running to the bathroom all the time. If you go to the doctor about it, they might take a urine sample to look for white blood cells, red blood cells, bacteria, and to test for certain chemicals. Antibiotics are frequently recommended because there’s a risk of the infection passing to the kidneys, which can be serious.
Just like lots of other health issues, prevention is key. If your girlfriend is getting UTIs frequently, she might want to consider using pads instead of tampons, taking showers instead of baths, wearing cotton underwear, and drinking lots of fluids (especially cranberry juice).
So, no, Caught. You’re not going to catch her UTI. But please consider having a conversation about it instead of just eavesdropping in fear. Just because she can’t give you the UTI doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect your time in bed together. Sex might be uncomfortable for your partner while she has the UTI because the tissues are irritated. It’s important to be patient while she’s recovering so that the UTI doesn’t come back. Just being aware of where your partner is at can go a long way towards happier, healthier sex.
Love,
SHIC

Dear SHIC,
Why does pubic hair get such a bad rap?
—Fully carpeted (and yes, it matches the drapes)

Dear Carpeted,
For the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to assume you’re talking about female pubic hair or, as it may also be known, bush, muff, short and curlies, and my personal favorite, lady garden. No matter what you call it, pubic hair is among the cast of characters that first made their appearance when you hit puberty. Your body started producing a sex hormone called androgen and, in response, the skin around your genitals begins to produce pubic hair.
So that’s what it is. And for most of human history, folks left it at that. Some cultures, possibly as far back as the early Egyptians, dabbled in hair removal, but it’s pretty safe to classify it as a modern trend. Thanks to the advent of clean-shaven porn stars and shrinking swimsuit bottoms, pubic hair has joined underarm and leg hair in the category of places where a growing number of women simply prefer not to have hair. Whether women trim, shave or wax, it appears to be mostly driven by preference and comfort rather than actual health risks. The only conceivable health benefit is a lessened chance of contracting pubic lice because, well, there’s nowhere for them to live if it’s bare down there.
So, in short, Carpeted, I’m not sure where this bad rap came from. Some people certainly do feel cleaner with shaved privates, but as long as you’re washing up down there, you shouldn’t have a problem. As for partner preference, it’s just another opportunity to talk about what you and your partner like and don’t like. Just remember, at the end of the day, it’s your body. What you do with it is completely up to you.

Love,
SHIC

The Sexual Health Information Center is a student-run resource center located on the first floor of Main Hall. SHIC offers confidential one-on-one peer education sessions and also sells condoms (more than 20 kinds!), dental dams, lube, pregnancy tests and more for affordable prices. We’re open 5-9 pm Monday-Thursday and 4-6 pm Friday-Sunday. Email us your questions at [shic]!