Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pee After Sex

It sounds funny, and a bit annoying, I know. But, hear me out.

For years, my wife experienced painful urinary tract infections. As (what seemed like) luck would have it, these would develop overnight and I'd end up driving her to the emergency room at 2am because it was too painful to stand.

She talked to various ob/gyn doctors about the problem, often receiving the standard, useless (to her) advice of wearing cotton underwear, keeping the area very clean, wiping from front-to-back after using the bathroom, avoiding tight-fitting pants, and drinking cranberry juice. She was given an antibiotic at each emergency room visit to temporarily fix the problem, but she hated having to rely on antibiotics. She couldn't believe it when one ob/gyn recommended a constant, low-dose antibiotic preventative treatment.

After much searching, one doctor suggested that she pee after sex. He said that pee is highly acidic and will likely kill any bacteria that is growing around the urinary tract. It sounded painful/difficult. The last thing you want to do after sex is get up, drink lots of water and wait on the potty until something comes out! But, UTIs were more painful, so she gave it a try. A few months passed and she diligently followed the doctor's suggestion. No UTIs.

A few months later, I came down with some sort of painful infection in my scrotum. Unlike my wife, I hadn't been peeing after sex. I saw my doctor, but he didn't any particularly useful advice, and the infection resolved on it's own after a few days. But, this infection convinced me that I ought to be joining my wife in the after sex ritual.

Now, it's been over three years since we've been committed to peeing after sex and neither of us have UTI or similar infections. I see that peeing after sex is a standard recommendation for UTIs. But, it's somewhat buried. It'd be nice if they had some sense of the practical effectiveness, possibly organized by which strategies are more likely to work for different races, socioeconomic backgrounds, etc. 'course, that might alarm the political correctness police...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Yes, You Can Microwave (Some) Styrofoam

My wife's family is joining us for a vacation in New Hampshire near Storyland.  It seems like this is a standard summer vacation for all Boston-area families with small children like us.  It's easy to see why.  Our four-year-old daughter loved Storyland---Cinderella's castle, circus the flying whales, the twirling turtles and even the more scary rides like the Bamboo Chute.

This morning, my mother-in-law put a take-out styrofoam container into the microwave to warm up left-over pancakes.  My wife and I both cautioned this move, warning about the possibility of plastic chemicals leaching into the food.  She said it was fine---they do it all the time without any ill effects.  I was curious to find out the truth.  A Google search returned a consumer-oriented Harvard Medical School newsletter about exactly this issue.  The answer is "it depends".  Not all styrofoam will leach chemicals in sufficiently large enough quantities to arouse concern.  But, many of those containers are tested and labeled "microwave safe".  In particular, single-use containers such as take-out styrofoam boxes are generally not known to be safe and should not be used in the microwave.  Of course, the FDA is conservative with the "microwave safe" label, requiring 100-1000x less chemicals than have been shown to harm laboratory animals over a lifetime of use.  So, occasionally eating food out of microwaved take-out styrofoam boxes might be okay, but it's not clear and it's not a risk I'm willing to take.