How to spot 9 warning signs of common condition as woman ‘spent years in pain’ and got ‘no answers’

By Staff 7 Min Read

Bianca Padurariu, 20, was diagnosed with a recurrent urinary tract infection (UTI) after suffering with a burning sensation when going to the toilet and while having sex

A 20-year-old woman spent years in pain and “lost all hope” as she could not get any explanation from her doctor, who allegedly told her to find answers on Google.

Bianca Padurariu, 20, said her symptoms – including a burning sensation when going to the toilet or when being intimate with her partner – began in September 2021. Despite visiting her GP several times and being prescribed antibiotics, the medicines did not help.

The nanny, from south-east London, claims she was told that nothing was wrong after a urine test came back negative. But since her symptoms were persistent, she decided to pay for a private consultation with a gynaecologist, which cost £700.

It was at this point, in September 2023, that she was told she suffers from a recurrent urinary tract infection (UTI), Wales Online reports. Tests also showed early signs of endometriosis, a long-term condition which can cause severe pain in the pelvis, especially during menstruation, intercourse and when going to the toilet.

“She also found high levels of protein in my kidneys and said I should see a doctor immediately,” Bianca said. It was too expensive for her to continue privately, so they offered to write to her GP explaining why she needed to be referred to a hospital.

Explaining the pain she went through, Bianca said: “Every time I drank a sip of water, five minutes later I needed the toilet. I was probably going to the toilet like 10 or 15 times a day. When I was peeing, it was burning a bit. It also affected my sex life, because I could not have a normal sexual relationship without it hurting.”

The NHS explains UTIs affect your urinary tract, including your bladder (cystitis), urethra (urethritis) or kidneys (kidney infection). UTIs may be treated with antibiotics, but these are not always needed.

Other treatments include a vaginal cream containing oestrogen if you have gone through the menopause or specialist treatment if doctors believe there might be other underlying conditions.

According to Kidney Research UK, about half of all women in the UK suffer from a UTI at least once during their lifetime. The warning signs of a UTI include:

  • pain or a burning sensation when peeing (dysuria)
  • needing to pee more often than usual
  • needing to pee more often than usual during the night (nocturia)
  • needing to pee suddenly or more urgently than usual
  • pee that looks cloudy
  • blood in your pee
  • lower tummy pain or pain in your back, just under the ribs
  • a high temperature, or feeling hot and shivery
  • a very low temperature below 36

While UTI symptoms typically last less than a week, in some cases they do not go away and short-term antibiotics do not work even if urine tests do not show an infection. In this case, it may mean you have a chronic (long-term) UTI, which can be caused by bacteria entering the lining of the bladder.

Chronic UTIs can be hard to diagnose as they are not always picked up in tests and symptoms can be similar to other conditions. There are some things you can try to help prevent a urinary tract infection from happening or prevent it returning, including:

  • wipe from front to back when you go to the toilet

  • keep the genital area clean and dry

  • drink plenty of fluids, particularly water – so that you regularly pee during the day and do not feel thirsty

  • wash the skin around the vagina with water before and after sex

  • pee as soon as possible after sex

  • promptly change nappies or incontinence pads if they’re soiled

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