Skip to main content

An Infection Getting Worse and Worse: Can I Just Wait it Out?

Share |
Meghan_Hoover asks:

I am 15 and I just had sex for the first time last Friday. It was unprotected but he did not cum. The next morning I had pain. The pain continued through Saturday and Sunday. I thought the pain was from having sex for the first time, but it's now Monday and I realized stinging while I pee, cloudy with some blood in it too, in addition to constantly having to pee and never feeling empty. I have had chills, too. I am almost 100% positive I have a UTI, but there is no way I'm telling my mom and getting medical attention for it, she can't know I had sex. I've read into it in depth, and the more I read the more scared I get. I'm on a vitamin regimen and I am able to get a z-pack, which treats bacterial infections but I'm unsure if it'll help me. Will it? are there anything I can do besides drink water and wait it out? How long will it last untreated? HELP!

Heather Corinna replies:

I have to give you an answer I know you won't like, but there really isn't any other right answer.

It very much sounds like you need to get this evaluated, ASAP, by a healthcare provider. Right now.

A Z-pack may or may not treat your infection, especially since that class of antibiotics isn't always what's prescribed for urinary tract infections. (I also cannot ethically advise you to use any medications off-label or to use them besides as you have been directed to by your prescribing physician.) We also really don't want to self-prescribe antibiotics, nor try and self-diagnose what sounds like something other than a very mild infection. Especially when you don't have medical training or access to clinical tests to even see what's wrong with you in the first place. Google can't make any of us into doctors.

If you're starting to get chills, and you're seeing blood in your urine, it may be this UTI, if that's what it is, is getting worse or spreading to your kidneys, and that's very serious business. It is also what will often happen with untreated UTIs. Those infections don't just stay put forever in your urinary tract or bladder, they keep moving, spreading to other organs. To boot, since the sex you had was unprotected, you'd also want to make sure this isn't some other kind of infection entirely or a UTI and an STI.

Drinking more and more water isn't going to treat your infection: that's one way we can prevent these kinds of infections in the first place, and sometimes if we are just starting to get one, something like water or cranberry can nip them in the bud before they start. But it sounds like you're way, way past that at this point. And infections don't just go away: they have to be treated.

You need healthcare, and I'd say that really is all there is to it.

One option is to suck it up, tell your Mom and ask for her help in getting that care. Honestly, if you don't have anyone you can talk to about this, nor any way to get sexual healthcare on your own, then it usually will be in your best interest to disclose to someone who can help you with that infection or not. Otherwise, you're kind of left in the spot of doing things which can pose big risks without the ability to do what we need to do to reduce those risks: in other words, you sound like you're in over your head here, and need some help.

If you're having sex unprotected, you're taking very big risks, and some of the why of engaging in sex that way -- since this is a pretty common thread with that -- is probably because you aren't or haven't been getting any kind of help or support navigating these choices from someone who cares about you and really gets the high stakes. That person doesn't have to be your mother, but if you opt out of filling her in, I'd implore you to start talking to some older adult you trust about this: an extended family member, a teacher, a doctor or nurse, someone. On top of probably helping you take care of yourself a lot better, just letting this big secret out is likely to make you feel a whole lot better emotionally.

Let's also be real about this: it's usually just a matter of time before a parent will find out that you're sexually active anyway. It's just not that hard a thing to pick up on, especially when someone starts living in the bathroom 24/7 and shivering themselves to sleep like it sounds like you are right now.

Being honest about it to them of your own accord usually goes a lot better than them finding out on their own. When you tell them, even if that's loaded, and goes badly, you might have one hard thing to deal with, but if they find out themselves, then you've got two: they're discovering you've been engaging in sex AND being dishonest with them. Of course, when you've got something brewing like it sounds like you do, if you don't get it evaluated and treated by a healthcare professional soon, chances are good it's only going to get worse, and you're going to land in the ER or Urgent Care, where this is all going to come out anyway, and your mother is going to find out no matter what. The super-hard -- an often expensive, so you'll be giving your mother one more thing to be really pissed off about -- way for both of you.

But telling your Mom is not your only option.

You don't actually have to tell your mother you have been sexually active when telling her you need healthcare and think you have a bad UTI. UTIs are infections, same with kidney infections, that people can develop who haven't engaged in any kind of sex. So, not only is it possible this isn't even related to the sexual activity you took part in, even if it is, she doesn't have to know that's the cause. You can get that healthcare with her help but without her knowing you've engaged in sex, if you prefer.

Or, if there's a general or sexual healthcare clinic you can get to yourself, perhaps by walking, biking or taking public transportation, you can likely get the care you need on your own. You probably will have to come up with some cash for it (and maybe your boyfriend can help with this, since you both, I assume, chose to have sex, and also both chose to do so unprotected?), but in most areas you do not need a parent's permission to get this kind of healthcare, and they will not usually be notified you are getting it. The exception to that, per most legal policies, would be if your health was in serious danger, or if there was any evidence your partner was hurting or exploiting you in some way.

A school nurse or school clinic, if you have either, are other options to get immediate care on your own.

I get how scary telling a parent about sex can be, or navigating healthcare on your own, but this is your health here, and this might be serious.

Untreated infections of any kind -- not just STIs, and not just infections anyone might have developed through sex, but any kind of infection -- can really mess up your health in both the short and the long term. I just don't think that your lifelong health is a smart thing to risk, nor that putting it at risk to avoid telling a parent you've engaged in sex is a smart move at all. In the event you fear you'll be harmed either way -- where you think or know disclosing you've been sexual will result in abuse from your parent -- then that's obviously something else. And in that case, I'd suggest you pick option two, getting healthcare on your own, and also telling your healthcare provider about your experiences with or fears of abuse in your home so they can help you with that, too.

If you decide you want to go for option two and need any help finding a local clinic, you're welcome to email us or use one of our direct service,s like our board, chat or text service and we can help you find what's nearby.

But no matter which way you go with this, I can't encourage you enough to get that healthcare, pronto.

When you've gotten through this, I'd also suggest you reevaluate if this really is the right timing for you to be sexually active, or engaging in the kinds of sex that can pose such big risks. Even when it's what we want and we otherwise feel ready for that, it's still not always the right time. Not being able to do things, for instance, like easily accessing sexual healthcare, negotiating condom use, and using reliable contraception to prevent pregnancy (something I assume you also don't want, since, on top of other bigger issues, that, would be awfully hard to hide from your Mom) is a really good clue that we're in over our heads, and moving things faster than we can actually manage them. At the very least, I'd suggest having a serious chat with your partner about safer sex, sexual healthcare and preventing pregnancy is something you need to do, and make some changes with, before you two engage in sex together again.

I'm going to leave you some links I think might be useful for you moving forward, but I'd suggest saving them for later and making getting some healthcare your absolute top priority. As in, when you're done reading this page? Do whatever you're going to do to get that healthcare, pronto.

written 02 May 2013 . updated 13 Jan 2014

Related Content

Many people -- and probably most -- don't grow up knowing how to arrange for or manage their own healthcare. For some, that’s because our parents, guardians, or other family members did it for us....

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.