Urinary Tract Infections: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
If you are a woman, you have likely had a urinary tract infection (UTI) at least once in your life. Men may also experience UTIs, but the rate of infection is less frequent. Women are more prone because of the relatively close proximity of the anus, vagina, and urethra.The female urethra is also much shorter than that of a male.
Signs of a UTI Include:
- A Frequent Urge to Urinate, Even When Only Passing Small Amounts of Urine
- Discomfort, Pain, or a Burning Sensation When Urinating
- Pain and Sometimes Bloating in the Lower Abdomen
- Cloudy Urine That Smells Unusual and May Have Blood in It
Maintaining the health of the urinary system is important for detoxification, blood pressure, and the alkaline-acid balance in the body. If an infection of the urinary system is ignored and left untreated, it can lead to chronic kidney disease, which can have serious implications on the rest of the body. Signs that an infection has moved to the kidneys include pain on one or both sides of the lower back, fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting. It is important to treat a UTI at the first signs of infection in order to avoid any further complications.
Before I get into natural alternatives to treat an existing infection, let’s discuss some of the practices and things that might make you more prone to infection:
- Pregnancy: the shift in hormones during pregnancy can alter bacteria in the urinary tract, increasing the risk of a UTI. Many pregnant women also have trouble completely emptying their bladders since the womb sits on top of the bladder during pregnancy.
- Being sexually active: the vagina is on the acidic side, which prevents the growth of bacteria & pathogens, but semen is alkaline. If you're having a lot of unprotected sex in a short amount of time, it can mess with your vaginal flora, which can increase the risk of infection. Sexual activity can also transfer germs that cause UTIs from other areas, such as the vagina, to the urethra.Use a condom, urinate after sex, shower post sex, and take a cranberry capsule to reduce the risk.
- Use of spermicides: spermicides are creams that kill sperm that are often used with a diaphragm or with condoms to prevent pregnancy. The problem is thatwhile spermicides can kill sperm, they also have the ability to kill the good bacteria that protect you from contracting a UTI.
- Menopause: the drastic decrease in the hormone estrogen can causevaginal tissue to become thinner and drier, which make it easier for harmful bacteria to grow and develop into an infection.
- Harmful vaginal care practices: products like douches, scented soaps, feminine sprays or powders disrupt the PH in the vagina and can lead to infection. All that is needed is to rinse with warm water to keep things clean down there. If you're not comfortable going completely soap free, use only gentle, natural, unscented cleansers like Dr.Bronner’s& wash only the outside of your vagina.
- Incorrect wiping practices: wiping from back to front, especially after a bowel movement, can bring fecal matter and bacteria, like E. coli from the rectum into the urethra. E. coliis one of the most common causes of urinary tract infections. Always wipe from front to back.
- Dehydration: flushing out the urinary system is important to rid the body of toxins. If insufficient water is consumed, bacteria can start to build up and can cause an infection. Similarly, holding in your urine can also make you more prone to infection.
If you already have an infection here are my top recommendations to address it:
- Drink more water: water will help flush out the harmful bacteria. Drinking water to dilute the urine is also a way to deprive the bacteria of adequate nutrition, minimizing their ability of colonizing the urinary tract.
- Cranberry:has an antibacterial effect and helps lower urinary pH.It also contains proanthocyanidins that prevent the adhesion of bacteriato the bladder, which impairs colonization and any subsequent infection.
- D-Mannose: a naturally occurring sugar that is closely related to glucose, but doesn’t have the same effect on blood sugar. It coats bacteria, prevents adhesion to the bladder, and allows them to be flushed away during urination.
I recommend NFH’s D-Mannose SAP, which has a combination of cranberry and D-mannose in a powder form. If you prefer capsules, Cyto-matrix Cran-Mannose is an excellent option as well. In addition, a good probiotic with the right strains can help balance vaginal flora, Metagenics Ultra-Flora Women’s is a great option when fighting an infection, working on prevention, or while on antibiotics and is also safe during pregnancy.