Chronic UTI: New bride unable to have sex after ‘sexist’ doctors mistook it for STI

It took five visits to the doctor’s before she was finally diagnosed with chronic UTI.

A newly married couple were unable to consummate their union after the bride was misdiagnosed with a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). It took five months of being dismissed by ‘sexist’ doctors who wrote off her pain as ‘women’s problems’, to finally receive the right diagnosis, she claimed.


The immune system of 35-year-old Milly Herner, was severely compromised after she contracted long Covid while working. This made her vulnerable to other infections such a chronic Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) which she contracted in November 2020, five days to her wedding.

The painful infection spread to her kidneys multiple times. The music therapist was hospitalized with renal impairment and severe sepsis. She was unresponsive to antibiotics and was bedridden shortly after her wedding. She said:

I've had recurring UTIs before, so I really got straight on it - drinking lots of water and reaching for my natural supplements. I managed to just about get through my wedding - adrenaline carried me through and obviously the love of my husband who wanted to make sure we got married. The adrenaline of the wedding kept me going, but after that I was bed bound.
The newlywed could not have sex with her husband due to the pain. Getty/ nd3000

Medical gaslighting

At the hospital, she was given the highest dose of morphine to alleviate the pain she was in before she was referred to specialist. However, all the specialists she encountered did not listen to her and with some, gaslighting her into thinking the pain might have been in her head.

The psychology department at one [hospital] went down the route of asking 'is the pain in your head?' I was asked if I had anxiety or depression, and whether I'd had trauma in my life. I remember thinking, 'I've got a UTI, what's this got to do with anything? It was like medical gaslighting.

Other specialists asked her if her condition had anything to do with her personal hygiene, while a urologist interrogated the couple about their past sexual activities, suggesting they may have contracted an STI from sleeping with multiple partners. Frustrated, the pair had to dole out £10,000 from their savings on private consultations to before she was diagnosed with chronic UTI.

Read more:

Chronic UTI: The ‘multi drug-resistant’ infection that has been ruining lives

Double-voiding: Doctor suggests this peeing technique to prevent UTIs

Sexual health: Can you catch an STI from a public toilet?


UTIs share symptoms similar to STDs and are often misdiagnosed. Some common signs include:

  • Dysuria (painful urination or burning sensation when urinating)
  • Increased urgency and frequency of urination
  • Foul-smelling and cloudy/dark urine
  • Cloudy or dark urine
  • Unusual discharge
Most STIs and UTI share similar symptoms such as frequent urination. Getty/ Peter Dazeley

Since she has been on antibiotics for over a year, they are no longer able to tackle her infections, so Milly is now hoping to try an alternative treatment called Phage Therapy. It uses viruses to infect and kill bacteria.

She’s started a fundraiser to raise £30,000 to cover the cost of the treatment. She says the hope of having this treatment is the only thing keeping her going.

The therapy for a chronic bladder infection is a minimum of one year because the bacteria has invaded every cell of the bladder wall and the bladder wall takes a whole year to shed.
Sexual health: Can you catch an STI from a public toilet? Sexual health: Can you catch an STI from a public toilet?