Don’t you just hate UTIs? It’s one of the most common bacterial infections around and so many women have to deal with the discomfort, pain, and irritation on a regular basis. That’s because UTIs are often recurrent and it’s not simple to be rid of them completely. The bladder is the perfect closed environment for bacteria to thrive, unfortunately. You may be susceptible to getting a UTI after sex or maybe you can’t get away with wearing anything but plain cotton panties - either way, a persistent, recurring urinary tract infection is utterly unpleasant. You’re always worried when it might hit, and when it does you miss work, can’t go far from a bathroom, and generally feel miserable. So, what’s a woman to do?
What is a recurrent UTI?
There’s a difference between getting a UTI every once in awhile when you’ve been dehydrated or wearing your yoga pants too many days in a row, and experiencing a recurrent UTI situation. A chronic UTI condition can be seriously debilitating and unfortunately about one in five women are thought to experience this health issue. When you have a UTI more than twice in six months, it is called recurrent. If you experience three UTIs over time you are more likely to continue to have more UTIs in the future and get into a recurrent UTI situation.
The placement of a woman’s urethra and rectum sets us up for being much more likely candidates for recurrent UTIs than men, which is why it has perhaps come to be seen as a predominantly female health issue. The bacteria E.coli is usually the cause of this infection. A UTI can come about in any part of your urinary system - but when the infection is only in the bladder it remains relatively mild and treatable via natural means. The symptoms of a mild infection are probably known to us all - that burning sensation when you urinate and pain in the bladder region and lower back.
If and when the UTI spreads to the kidneys it can cause serious health problems. At this point the infection will require antibiotics for treatment. When this happens the symptoms then transition to nausea, vomiting, and a high fever. However, if you can catch a UTI early, by being vigilant of symptoms, and fastidious about utilizing effective natural treatments, then you will be in a much better position to both avoid stop a UTI in its tracks and prevent a recurrent UTI situation.
How overuse of antibiotics can cause recurring UTIs
As you may already know, I am no fan of antibiotics. They destroy the super important microbiome, which plays such a crucial part in keeping your body - including your vagina and bladder - populated with good bacteria versus bad bacteria. They suppress the immune system which makes you more susceptible to infections too.
Antibiotics become essential when a UTI spreads to the kidneys. At that time it’s necessary treatment. But my goal would be to avoid getting to that situation and to prevent a recurrent UTI situation. When we take antibiotics at the first sign of a UTI or use them as a preventative measure, we set ourselves up for a disrupted and dysfunctional microbiome. More and more research is showing us that the microbiome is crucial for long term endocrine health.
The reason UTIs can be reoccurring is that many women take antibiotics early as the treatment for a mild bout, which is a band-aid solution at best, and this creates a vicious cycle of a disrupted microbiome, increases your risk of developing yeast infections, and then your internal ecosystem is vulnerable to reoccurrence. So you don’t get rid of the UTI completely, and it comes back with a vengeance! Again and again.
There are some causes of recurrent UTIs that you probably are aware of already - underwear made of synthetic material, tight clothing like leggings or jeggings, not urinating immediately after sex (how romantic, right?!), sitting in chemical-laden bath bubbles, soaps, bath bombs, using scented wipes, and especially douches, which are the absolute worst and completely unnecessary. Your vagina is designed to clean itself, thank you very much! Although I wouldn’t recommend any of these things - you ought not be so very sensitive to them, and the reason your body is and reacts with a UTI is because of subpar microbiome health and poor immunity.
The early signs of a UTI
If you know the early symptoms of a UTI, especially if you’ve experienced them several times previously, then you can take action quickly and avoid antibiotic treatment. The early signs are bladder twinges before or after urinating, a more frequent urge to urinate, pressure in the bladder, slight burning in the urethra, and a slight dull ache in the lower back. If you experience these signs then you need to jump to it with the protocol I outline below. The thing NOT to do, is to brush off these little symptoms, but jump on them right away, so that you reduce the risk of it developing into full blown kidney infection, for which you will absolutely need antibiotics.
Pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding and UTIs
If you are susceptible to UTIs or have experienced a recurrent UTI situation and you’re now pregnant, or planning to get pregnant, you have to let your OB know that you want to avoid antibiotics. - and for good reason, as there is research that links pre-natal antibiotic exposure to childhood obesity. You can get the AZO UTI testing strips for at home daily monitoring so you can be sure to get an early start on natural treatment. Follow the same protocol outlined below. The reason you need to be this vigilant is that the risk of preterm labor increases when a UTI progresses to a kidney infection.
Since giving birth, I too have experienced recurrent UTIs. I've been nursing now, no bottles, on demand, for almost two years. This means I have the hormone levels of a postmenopausal woman essentially (very low estrogen). These hormone levels make you more susceptible to chronic infections of the bladder and the vagina, due to lower levels of bacterial-balancing estrogen. Avoiding antibiotics is a top priority of mine because I don't want them ending up in my breast milk and disrupting my daughter's microbiome. Study after study is coming out about how critical the microbiome is for long term endocrine health. I see it as my job to take care of myself and my child in a way that doesn't cause future health issues. That’s why I practice the protocol outlined below, and why I’m vigilant about avoiding infection and watching for the signs of an early infection.
Other hormonal issues like PCOS, amenorrhea, and perimenopause, which present with estrogen levels on the low side, can also increase your vulnerability to experiencing chronic UTI’s.
My effective, natural treatment strategy for recurring UTIs
I suggest a four stage strategy for getting immediate relief and effectively preventing a recurring, chronic UTI. To note: For my strategies to treat yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis visit this previous post.
- Cranactin - take an activated cranberry compound every day alongside your regular favorite supplements. Double dose every time you have sex that day and for a few days after, if this is something that triggers your UTIs (usually more common with new partners rather than long term partners, or when you stop using condoms).
- Jarrow’s Fem-Dophilus probiotic - take a daily, good quality probiotic designed for vaginal and urinary tract health. Again, double dose as above if needed.
- D-Mannose - this supplement supports a healthy urinary tract. Take daily and double up as needed. You can take this every 3 hours. You can also have your partner take this to protect you from any E.coli bacterias he may be carrying.
- Baking soda - drink one teaspoon of regular baking soda in a glass of water each morning. This will help to balance your internal pH.
In the background to this strategy you need to be addressing your microbiome health and immunity levels. You can boost your immunity and support your microbiome to give your body the helping hand it needs in combatting UTIs. The Flo Living protocol has, baked in, microbiome and immunity consciousness and when taken up by those with recurrent UTIs it speeds up their recovery and stops the infection (as well as yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis) in its tracks. All I can say is: Ahhhhhh! Relief at last!
Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this - the science of your body is on your side!
to your FLO,
Good things come in threes:
I want to hear from you!
First, do you get UTIs?
Second, have you previously used antibiotics?
Third, everyone you know is hormonal – spread a little good ovary karma and share this article on social 😉
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