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My UTI is So Cinematic My UTI is So Cinematic

My UTI is So Cinematic

Shea Sweeney

Where are Hollywood’s UTIs?

My first ever UTI was last year. I woke up around 2 AM in agonizing pain and started peeing blood (I wasn’t on my period and it was enough blood to freak me out). I had never had a UTI and didn’t realize the blood was coming out of my urethra.

In my hallucinatory, partial dream-state, I was convinced that I was having a miscarriage. And, for some reason, I thought that it was imperative to drive to a 24-hour pharmacy and purchase two boxes of pregnancy tests…at two in the morning. I took three tests when I came home. All negative. And I passed out again. I woke up in a daze and thought…What in the hell just happened? I took my tired ass to urgent care, and lo-and-behold, it was a bad UTI. 

UTIs are unfortunately an exceptionally routine experience for so many people with both penises and vaginas. Although in regards to young people, vagina-having folks are far more susceptible. When I’m not writing for The Cheeky I spend most of my waking hours focusing on short stories and screenplays, and my whole surreal experience really got me thinking about the drama of UTIs. For something so ordinary and universal (yet intense), it's interesting how rarely it is represented in narrative media. There’s plenty of periods, sex, unplanned pregnancies, and abortions, albiet, not often depicted with realistic accuracy. UTIs are just as common as all of these, so why do they feel so absent from the cultural landscape? Where are Hollywood’s UTIs? 

I hopped on the phone with, Nona Willis Aronowitz, Teen Vogue sex advice columinst and author of the forthcoming, Bad Sex: Truth, Pleasure and an Unfinished Revolution, to discuss the matter. 

“The first thing that comes to mind is all the vaginal stuff in Girls, which was a few years ago. The Lena Dunham character had so many issues. She was always getting UTIs, she had HPV. And there’s a couple of different episodes where the whole plot line is about a UTI.” Nona says.

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