Edie Medley’s comic about trying to treat a UTI is painfully relatable

The London-based illustrator aims to raise awareness of how often issues of women’s health are overlooked and mistreated.

11 January 2024

If you’ve never had the pleasure of a UTI… well, lucky you. Those who have will know the anguish; constantly needing to wee, an intense burning pain when you do, body aches and exhaustion. Drawing from her own experiences with chronic UTIs, Edie Medley’s humorous yet intensely frustrating comic It Burns deals with the draining discomfort of having a UTI and the trials and tribulations of trying to have it taken seriously by doctors.

The comic begins with its central character having the dreadful moment of realisation that’s she’s got yet another infection, which is then followed by unhelpful comments from friends, the frustration of trying to get a GP appointment, getting a appointment, being met by a new GP who knows nothing about her medical history, paying an extortionate amount for a prescription, for it all to happen yet again – like one big painful ferris wheel.

UTI’s, or urinary tract infections, are an infection of your bladder, kidneys, the tubes connected to them, or all of the above. Due to people with vaginas having shorter urethras than people with penises, it’s an ailment that predominantly affects them – something Edie sees as a key factor in causing it to be overlooked. Alongside her experience of chronic UTIs, Edie also suffers from an autoimmune disease and endometriosis, and so women’s health is a topic very close to her heart. “It Burns was also driven by conversations with friends; every woman I know has experienced some form of dismissal or mistreatment at the GP,” Edie says.


Edie Medley: Waiting Room Women (Copyright © Edie Medley, 2023)

The comic format and using drawing as a means of working through tricky topics are technical aspects that come naturally to Edie. She’s always had a passion for drawing thumbnails, or “a million little boxes” for composition ideas. Her style also perfectly suits the form, her sketchy line-based mark-making and brilliant way with expressions combining perfectly with text-based quips. More recently, Edie has also begun adding annotations and highlights into her practice as a way to think through and picking apart information. “My practice is underpinned by a love of drawing and its power to communicate the challenging and complicated in a captivating and accessible way,” she says. At the end of It Burns a series of endnotes appear in which each frame of the comic is annotated with relevant research and information.

While It Burns grapples with tough subject matter, it cleverly balances with moments of humour; the apathy of the run-of-the-mill GP is laughably relatable, and the contrast between the resolute anger the main character wishes they respond to such apathy with – compared to the timid response they actually utter – is brilliantly familiar. Edie’s reason for including humour is to make the comic “approachable” and to make something that’s very complex a bit more simple to conceive. “I think that a lot of the humour in the comic comes from my feelings of discomfort and anger; it’s easier to laugh at the situation because it’s so infuriating,” Edie says.

Edie was well aware that many people would be able to relate to It Burns, but the response has been overwhelming. Which, as you can imagine, is a double-edged sword; she’s happy so many resonate with her work, but it’s saddening that so many can identify the same textbook experiences of their health issues being ignored and overlooked. “It felt important because chronic UTIs are a poorly understood condition; they can be isolating and make you feel like you’re going a bit mad,” concludes Edie. “I wanted to make something that would speak to those who could relate, but also those who have no idea what a UTI is.” Now, she hopes the comic will continue to open up conversations, build community and bring about change.

GalleryEdie Medley: It Burns (Copyright © Edie Medley, 2023)

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Edie Medley: It Burns (Copyright © Edie Medley, 2023)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English Literature and History, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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