Kidney stones affect reproductive health in all genders.
Because they can be trapped in the ureter, stones can prevent anyone from sexual pleasure as well as echo burning sensations similar to those caused by an STI.
To better understand kidney stones and how to prevent them from happening, HelloFlo talked to Dr. Dana Rice, a Virginia-based urologist involved with the UTI Tracker app, over the phone.
Contrary to popular belief, kidney stones rely more on environmental factors rather than genetics. When I explained my grandmother and my father both had a fair amount of kidney stones in their lives, Dr. Rice explained, “When you live together, you have the same exposure to well water, so in some people, it’s about drinking minerals.” In other words, kidney stones are often caused by lifestyle through hydration and diet than anything else.
However, those who pass stones when they’re children, often have a metabolic disorder. According to the National Kidney Foundation, kidney stones in children can indicate serious health problems, including hypertension and diabetes.
“As long as you’re keeping yourself hydrated and practice a healthy diet, you may not be as predisposed as you think,” she added.
The type of diet you follow depends on the types of stones you experience, Dr. Rice mentioned. If you’re drinking green juices all the time, beware of oxalate-calcium kidney stones. In addition to lots of water, she recommends the overall population to follow a low-oxalate diet. High-oxalate foods, according to the Cleveland Clinic, include kale, beets, potato chips, French fries, and nuts. Oxalates work with calcium to absorb minerals and form kidney stones.
Women’s Health Magazine reports other types of kidney stones include struvite, uric acid, and cystine stones. While there are treatment options for removing kidney stones, such as ureteroscopy, different types of lithotripsy, and even kidney removal in rare, extreme cases, the biggest factor comes down to lifestyle habits.
“The American diet has so much sodium, and sodium can contribute to stones,” she adds. “Citrate is actually protective for many types of stones. A common over-the-counter remedy is to add lemon slices or lemon juice to their water.”
Additionally, Prevention Magazine recommends exercising regularly, removing soda from your diet, consuming protein in moderation, and drinking coffee to further decrease your risk of stones developing in your gut.
So how do you know when you have a kidney stone? Dr. Rice explained there are three major “go-to-the-emergency-room-now” symptoms to look out for. The first is uncontrolled pain specifically in the back or on a side, the second is fever, and the third is the inability to urinate for several hours.
“If you’re ever not peeing for a period of time, I tell people in my office, it’s six hours,” she said. “The textbook says eight hours, but listen you’re better safe than sorry. You could be someone born with one kidney and [suddenly] your only ureter is blocked. Or both ureters could be blocked and if you’re not making urine, you’re not getting toxins out of your body.”