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Do you suffer from frequent urinary tract infections? Sometimes it can seem like you’re on a constant merry-go-round of recurrent attacks. If you’re affected, you’ll most likely be very keen to avoid getting another one. For many women, the dread of a UTI can seriously affect their quality of life.
In this blog you’ll discover why urinary tract infections occur, and the link between your microbiome, your hormones and UTIs. Finally, you’ll learn how to break the vicious cycle.
UTI is a general term for an infection affecting the urinary system. This comprises the kidneys and bladder; the ureters, the tubes connecting your kidneys to your bladder; and the urethra, the pipe carrying your urine from your bladder to the outside world. UTIs are usually caused by rogue bacteria such as E coli, but they can also be due to a fungal infection.
Symptoms include an urgent need to pee frequently, with burning and pain when you pass water. You might have pain in your back or side, or above your pubic bone, and you may feel sick or fatigued. Your urine might be cloudy or darker than usual.
Although anyone can suffer from a UTI, they’re far more common in women. If you’re plagued by UTI’s you’re definitely not alone. In fact, half of all women will experience a UTI in their lifetime, with around one-third suffering from recurrent attacks 1. Many women notice they’re especially prone to UTIs at certain times in their menstrual cycle. On the other hand, menopausal women often find they suffer UTIs as part of the many symptoms of the menopause.
UTIs frequently affect older people, and can quickly escalate. They can cause a medical emergency if bacteria spread into the bloodstream and to the brain.
Let’s have a look now at why UTIs occur and why they insist on coming back.
You might be familiar with the idea that you have a collection of bacteria living within your gut, known as your microbiome. But did you know you have microbiomes in many different areas of your body, including in your urinary and reproductive systems? Rather like your gut microbiome, with which they have a close relationship, the condition of these urogenital bacteria is closely related to your health. In addition, they’re personal to you and need to be nourished. If the bacteria become out of balance, this seems to increase the likelihood of recurrent UTI infections.
The conventional treatment for a UTI is a prescription for an antibiotic. However, there are many different bacteria capable of potentially causing a UTI. Therefore, several different antibiotics may need to be tried before an effective one is found. Bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics, too.
Another downside is that antibiotics unfortunately kill off all bacteria including the beneficial ones in your urogenital microbiome. These provide your natural resistance against infection, so destroying them makes it more likely you’ll suffer from another infection in the future.
Researchers believe oestrogen influences the makeup of the urogenital microbiome, with healthy oestrogen levels encouraging beneficial types of bacteria 2. So, unbalanced hormones may lead to more UTIs.
It’s important to seek medical advice if you have a UTI, but we can help you take steps to ensure they don’t recur. You can nurture your microbiome by avoiding sugar, feasting on fibre-rich plant foods and enjoying fermented foods. You might find it beneficial to take a probiotic, a supplement of healthy bacteria. This is designed to give your microbiome a helping hand, especially if you’ve been prescribed antibiotics in the past.
Many people suggest cranberry juice can be useful to manage or prevent UTIs. But bear in mind it contains sugar, which encourages the growth of unhealthy bacteria. It can be more beneficial to use concentrated cranberry extract in supplement form to flush problematic bacteria out with your urine. The active ingredient in cranberry juice is a non-digestible sugar called D-mannose. It seems to latch onto E-coli and prevent it from sticking to the bladder wall. This is also available as a supplement.
Digger deeper, we will aim to discover the reasons why you are suffering from recurrent UTIs. By putting right these reasons, you can stop the cycle of UTIs, rather than just managing your symptoms. Functional testing will examine the health of your personal microbiome and determine whether your hormones are out of balance. You’ll then be provided with personalised recommendations including dietary and lifestyle modifications and supplements so you can prevent UTIs for good.
Do you need personalised support for your recurring UTI’s? Then book a free 15-minute discovery call to see if Functional Medicine is for you.
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