Half of all women will have one at some point in their lives…. a urinary tract infection also known as a bladder infection.
These infections are very common … in fact, they’re the second most common infection in the body and one of the most common reasons women will go to their family doctor.
A UTI occurs when bacteria travel from the urethra, the short tube that takes urine from the bladder out, up to the bladder. This infection causes some nasty symptoms including a frequent need to pee as well as burning and pain when peeing. The urine may also be cloudy, have blood in it and smell foul.
The most common way a UTI is diagnosed is by going to a family doctor, peeing in a cup, where a urinalysis will determine if there are white blood cells present. This can usually be done right in the doctor’s office. Antibiotics are most often prescribed and the infection will likely go away.
However, some women will experience recurrent infections…. up to 3 or 4 a year. I spoke with Urogynecologist Dr. Magali Robert about UTIs. She says these women need to have a family doctor so these infections can be tracked. It’s also important to make sure the symptoms aren’t some other kind of issue. Docs should also check for anatomical problems, or whether a woman is able to empty her bladder properly. Docs also need to determine if the patient is clearing the infection each time or whether they’re merely suppressing symptoms and it’s the same infection causing problems.
And for some women, it may not be a question of antibiotics. Dr. Robert says patients approaching menopause are predisposed to UTIs because their estrogen levels are dropping leaving the tissues of the urethra dry and more susceptible to infection. These women may benefit from estrogen therapy.
Young women may benefit from taking cranberries… either supplements or juice. If they find they’re getting UTIs directly related to sex, they may be prescribed antibiotics to take right around the time they’re having sex.
All women will benefit from staying well hydrated says Dr. Robert. She says water helps to flush out the urethra making it harder for bacteria to set up shop.
I do want to point out that men do get urinary tract infections as well… just not as often… only in about 10 percent of cases.
I could write so much more… but if you are getting UTIs make sure you talk openly to your doctor about what will work for you. It may also help to investigate some naturopathic options to help prevent getting another infection.