The Ugly Truth About Why You Keep Getting Urinary Tract Infections
You’ve had one UTI….and that was bad enough.
Then another popped up and you were totally over the pain, the burn, and the constant urgency to use the bathroom. When the third one showed up, you were at a loss: where are these urinary tract infections coming from? Why is this happening?
What you may have are recurrent UTIs (also called chronic UTIs or recurrent bladder infections).
Below you will find the low-down on why you keep getting urinary tract infections.
- Good news: A few reasons just require slight lifestyle changes. We will start with these easy-to-fix issues.
- Bad news: Some reasons are way more complicated
- Good news again: There is still hope for those in the “bad news” category
You won’t find sugarcoating here. There are some completely unfair reasons (like your age and sex) that lead to you that burning pain time and time again. But with knowledge comes power.
Why You Keep Getting Urinary Tract Infections
1. You’re Not Drinking Enough Water
The concept is simple: urine flushes bacteria and water creates urine, so water helps you stay infection free.
The advice we often hear is eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day. This is a great place to start, but sometimes we need more. Since coffee is dehydrating, you may need an extra glass of water. If you exercise quite a bit, you may need an extra glass of water.
If you are a big man verses a small woman, you may need an extra glass of water.
The Institute of Medicine suggests 13 cups for men and 9 cups for women.
Though juices and soda can still help you create urine, their sugar content is not helping your prevent infection. Stick to water and herbal teas.
2. You’re Holding It In
It does you no good to drink all that extra water only to have your urine sit in your bladder all day. When you have to go, go!
Here’s why: you don’t want any bacteria in your bladder to hang out there. This gives it time to multiply and infect. So move it out by using the bathroom.
Holding it now and then when you absolutely cannot go (like on a road trip or during a work meeting) should not make you too worried.
But when you constantly try to hold it in out of laziness or time management, you could have a problem.
3. You Aren’t Wiping Correctly
Let’s keep this one short and sweet. Ladies, wipe from front to back, not back to front.
No matter how healthy or clean you are, your feces can have E. coli. You don’t want to pull it up to your urethra/vaginal area.
4. You’re Not Having Sex Right
Okay… you’re probably having sex right, but what you do before and what you do after might be all wrong.
- No Spermicide: If you are using spermicide-coated condoms or spermicide jelly to protect against an unwanted pregnancy, switch your birth control methods. Spermicide is directly connected to UTIs. Switching to regular condoms should do the trick.
- Go To The Bathroom: You must go to the bathroom right after you are done having sex – each and every time. We all have bacteria on our bodies. The rubbing movement of sex sort of “invites” those bacteria to enter your urethra. When you use the bathroom, you are essentially flushing out the bacteria before it has time to travel up to your bladder.
Remember that UTIs are not contagious. They are not sexually transmitted infections. So as long as you stay consistent with these two behaviors, sex should not be giving you UTI troubles.
5. You Have Diabetes
Now we are exiting these easy-fix ways to stop your chronic UTIs and entering the more complicated reasons you get one infection after another.
Plenty of other diseases – many of which seem entirely removed from the urinary tract – can lead to chronic UTIs. And diabetes is one of them.
Diabetics are twice as likely to develop a UTI than anyone else. This has to do with lowered immune systems, sugar in your blood and urine, and potential nerve damage in your bladder.
Managing your blood sugar well can actually help you prevent these UTIs. So any steps you take to get your diabetes under control actually helps you get your chronic UTIs under control too.
6. You Have Kidney Stones
Kidney stones block different areas of your urinary tract as they start heading out the body. These blockages can sometimes make it difficult for your bladder to empty entirely, raising your chances of infection.
If you are prone to kidney stones, take measures to prevent them. This includes:
- Limiting animal protein
- Limiting oxalate consumption
- Limiting salt and sugar consumption
- Drinking plenty of water
- Taking natural supplements like Chanca Piedra
Fewer kidney stones = fewer UTIs.
7. You’re A Woman
UTIs are officially sexist. Women get far more than men. For every 8 female UTIs there is only 1 male UTI. But there is actually a reason behind it.
A woman’s urethra is very small compared to a man’s urethra. This means bacteria does not have to go very far in order to get to the woman’s bladder.
Once a woman is 24, there is a 1 in 3 chance that she’s had at least 1 urinary tract infection. Somewhere around 50% and 60% of women will get a UTI throughout their life.
And every time a woman gets a UTI, the chance of developing another one increases. Which makes sense when you consider almost all cases of recurrent bladder infections happen to women.
8. You’re Pregnant
To stick around on the “UTI and women” bandwagon for just a second, another reason you could be dealing with multiple UTIs is pregnancy.
From week 6 to week 24, the risk of UTIs goes up. Your changing hormones can actually cause urinary tract changes. And the uterus presses on the bladder, sometimes preventing full urine exit.
Since you are pregnant, make sure to see your doctor right away. Urinary tract infections can go from the bladder to the kidney – which is much more dangerous than a regular UTI.
Normally the pregnant woman will be given a baby-safe antibiotic to deal with the infection swiftly.
9. You’re Getting Older
Sorry ladies, this is just one of those unfortunate facts of life. Life after menopause can often mean more frequent UTIs. And there are a lot of factors playing a role in these unfortunate infections.
The good bacteria normally found in your vagina (the ones that help fight off bad bacteria) starts to decrease.
It is also harder for older women to completely empty their bladder, so any bacteria in the urine may sit there for a while.
If other women in your family have had lots of post-menopausal UTIs, the chances go up for you too.
10. Your Prostate Is Enlarged or Infected
Now we have one chronic UTI cause that actually has to do with men. When men do get a UTI, it is most likely due to prostate issues. This is why the rare male UTI is even rarer in younger men.
Since the prostate is right under the bladder, an enlarged prostate can block the flow of urine. This means any bacteria in the bladder sits there for long periods of time.
Sometimes doctors will employ the “watch and wait” method with an enlarged prostate. But if it is becoming a UTI issue for you, talk to your doctor about the various medication and procedures that can help.
11. You Need A Catheter
Anytime you are catheterized, you are at risk for a UTI.
Even with all the proper hygiene steps, you are introducing a foreign object into the urethra. Bacteria can come in during insertion or simply during any of the time it remains in your bladder.
The CDC does offer some tips to try to eliminate the catheter-associated UTIs, which include:
- Always washing your hands before touching the catheter
- Keeping the urine bag below your bladder at all times
- Not tugging, pulling, twisting, or kinking the tube
If this becomes a problem for you – especially a recurrent problem – talk with your doctor to see if there are any other options available.
Chronic UTI Treatment
When someone gets just one UTI, the typical treatment is one round of antibiotics. Within two or three days the symptoms vanish. After all the pills, the infection vanishes.
But when you deal with chronic UTIs, doctors will often put you on long-term, low-dose antibiotics. Or, you may be given some antibiotics to take each time you are done having sex.
Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn’t. It is possible that once you get off the long-term antibiotics, the UTIs could start right back up again. It is also possible that you could have many negative side effects from so much antibiotic usage, including:
- Antibiotic resistance
- Gut flora imbalance (which could cause digestive problems, skin problems, mood problems, etc.)
- Nausea/upset stomach
So…Is There Any Hope For Chronic UTI Relief?
Let’s wrap back around to some good news. Studies have shown that two all-natural supplements are extremely effective at preventing and treating recurrent UTIs:
In fact, one study divided recurrent UTI sufferers into three groups: one group received no treatment, one group received D-mannose, and another got antibiotics. The group who took D-mannose had fewer UTI relapses than the antibiotics group.
Hibiscus extract has been shown to combat all the main types of bacteria that lead to UTIs including E. coli (the most common), staph, and candida albicans.
Since these are all-natural supplements, you can safely add them to your daily routine to prevent another UTI.
As long as you join these supplements with urinary tract hygiene discussed throughout this article, there really is hope for overcoming chronic UTIs.