Have you ever wondered why women who are going through menopause or post menopause are getting more frequent UTIs than what they had before? When people talk about UTI, in most cases they are referring to a bladder infection.
The urinary tract is comprised of all organs (bladder, kidneys, and the tubes that connect them) that produce urine and carry it out of the metabolism system. Urine is a by-product of metabolism; it contains waste that needs to be removed. Just because the urinary tract has to perform the job to remove the urine, it does not mean it has to be contaminated by all the germs contained in the urine. In contrast, the urinary tract must be free from those bad bacteria to do the job properly. When contaminated by the bacteria, urinary tract suffers from infections. The medical term for such condition is called Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).
Among all organs that comprise the urinary tract, the bladder is the most commonly infected by bacteria. Bladder infection is not uncommon, and not serious when treated properly right away. But if it is poorly treated, the infection can spread to other organs, for example, the kidneys, and cause serious health issues. Human metabolism system has developed a natural mechanism to defend against UTI; we call this mechanism as urination. As the urine flows from the kidneys through ureters to the bladder, bacteria are flushed out when you urinate. This system is effective to prevent bacteria from settling down and inhabiting in the urinary tract. Unfortunately, this defense mechanism does not always work as it should.
I had great compassion and empathy for a client I saw not long ago. She has been suffering from frequent UTIs in the past few years and she has been taking antibiotics almost non-stop since then. She said with sadness and frustration in her eyes, “I cannot swim or move freely with the catheter in my body, the UTIs affect my daily life and the antibiotics don’t work at all. What is the point of living now? I just want to die.” She is only 65 years old. I told her the story that how I helped my mother overcome this challenge after she had a hysterectomy a few years ago, and she has been free of UTIs since then. My suggestions ignite the hope in her eyes.
Now, let’s first talk about the causes and risk factors for UTIs.
People of all ages can develop UTI, but teens and adult women are the most vulnerable for these reasons:
- Women have a shorter urethra than men. It means that the bacteria have an easier way to travel and infect a woman’s bladder.
- In women, the opening to the urethra is closer to the rectum. Bacteria that cause bladder infection may live in the rectum.
Let’s back to the question from the very beginning: why do women experience more frequent UTIs when they enter the menopause or post menopause? I think the main cause is hormone issues, especially for those women with estrogen dominance syndrome. Estrogen dominance is a condition where a woman can have deficient, normal or excessive estrogen, but has little or no progesterone to balance its effects in the body.There are some hormone receptors in the bladder and they are turned off due to hormone imbalance especially with estrogen dominance syndrome. When these hormone receptors are turned off in the bladder, they affect the acidic environment in the bladder, so it becomes less acidic, which promotes the growth of bad bacteria in the bladder and causes UTIs. Today our environment is loaded with environmental estrogens such as petroleum based solvents and plastics. These foreign chemicals compete with the natural hormone receptors in our body. As a result, progesterone is squeezed out of the body. Now you understand why estrogen dominance syndrome is becoming more and more prevalent among women. Can antibiotics resolve this issue? The answer is NO.
How to prevent estrogen dominance syndrome? Read how to balance your hormone naturally and prevent weight gain.
Regardless of the culprits, UTI is a treatable condition. A combination of antibiotics and home treatment typically is enough to improve the condition. Here are some of the easiest natural ways to treat UTI or prevent it from recurring.
How to choose the right probiotics that work the best for you? Read how to use pre/probiotics to guard your gut and improve your overall health.
- Diet control: in terms of the diet control, it is a good idea to cut down the bakery goods and sweets in your diet, because those carbohydrates break down becoming sugar, and sugar promotes the overgrowth of the bacteria in the body.
- Herbal remedies: There are some wonderful herbal remedies and foods that can help treat UTIs, such as dandelion, marshmallow root, cranberry extract, and corn silk. Dandelions a very powerful diuretic, and it can help remove the bacteria from the bladder by flushing the bacteria out along with urine.Marshmallow has a softening effect on the irritated mucous membranes of the urinary tract.Corn silk also has a diuretic effect, and rich in silica and other minerals, which help strengthen the tissues.Cranberry helps prevent potentially harmful bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls and effectively flushes out the bacteria from the urinary tract to promote urinary tract health.In order to make it effective, the dosage makes the difference. The right dose will deliver the right power.
In the United States alone, UTI costs about $1.6 billion in healthcare every year. Almost half of all women experience a case of UTI in their lifetime. As a matter of fact, UTI is the most common bacterial infection. In 1997, UTI resulted in 100,000 hospitalizations, not including the non-reported ones. Simple lifestyle changes can actually help prevent the condition in the first place. Here are some examples:
- Drink more water.
- Urinate as soon as you need it.
- Take showers instead of a bath to reduce potential risks of infection from an uncleaned tub.
- Wipe cleanly after you urinate or have a bowel.
- Change your underwear every day.
- Use cotton underwear (the material for your underwear must be breathable to prevent the growth of bacteria).
- If you are female and having menstruation, use sanitary pads instead of tampons.
- If you are female, do not use any feminine hygiene sprays.
- If you are male, only use non-spermicidal lubricated condoms.
These home treatments and prevention have been proven effective, but you should seek health care professionals immediately in severe cases of UTIs. You may need more than just home treatments to manage the pain and prevent recurrent issues. You also need medications. Mild cases of UTI typically subside within two or three days when treated properly. If the pain does not go away within that period, you should consult your health care provider to investigate further.
- NIDDK: Bladder Infection (Urinary Tract Infection—UTI) in Adults
- WebMD: Urinary Tract Infections in Teens and Adults – What Increases Your Risk
- WebMD: D – MANNOSE
- NCBI: D-mannose powder for prophylaxis of recurrent urinary tract infections in women: a randomized clinical trial
- NCBI: Prevention and treatment of urinary tract infection with probiotics: Review and research perspective
- NCBI: Epidemiology of urinary tract infections: incidence, morbidity, and economic costs
- Live Science: Probiotics Could Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
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