Here’s a low down on what you really need to know.
1. Let’s talk anatomy.
Your urine hole otherwise known as the urethra is very “conveniently” located close to other holes like the vaginal hole and the anal hole a little further down.
So it’s no surprise that it is easy for bacteria from the vagina or the anus to track its way up to the urethra. Women we are an “anatomic disadvantage” when it comes to our urine tract, our urethra is short and located very near the vaginal entrance unlike men who have long urethra and their urethra opening is nowhere near any other orifice.
2. Sex..what’s it got to do with my UTIs?
Just imagine this ..during sex there’s plenty of contact and rubbing not only within the vagina but also around the vagina and the rest of the vulva and the pubic area. In this area sits the urethra the urine hole. This impact and rubbing from sex pushing bacteria towards the urethra entrance making it easier for bacteria to track up the urethra tube that leads to the bladder.
3. A dry vulva and genital area, will that make me more prone to a UTI?
Well, yes! Think of your skin, if it’s dry it might have micro tears or cracks that causes it to lose its perfect barrier. This creates a perfect entry point for bacteria hence the possibility of brewing an infection. When moisturise your skin daily your create a perfect film or barrier that acts as a defence against these infection.
So for women who have menopaused, when your body no longer produces as much estrogen as it used to then you lose the drive that keeps the areas hydration supple and moisturised making UTI s once you have menopaused far far more common.
This is not saying that vulva dryness and vaginal dryness does not occur in non-menopausal women. We see many cases of vulval dryness in younger women too.
Other conditions like lichen sclerosus can mimic and masquerade as vaginal dryness to an inexperience doctor. So make sure you get checked by a physician who knows what they are doing.
4. Kidney stones? Do they increase my risk of UTIs?
Having kidney stones can surely increase your risk of recurrent UTIs.
So what are some of the strategies to prevent recurrent UTIs that your doctor might not have discussed with you?
Most of us have heard of these simple strategies:
Hydrate well drink plenty of fluid
Pee and wash up with water immediately after sex
Avoid holding your urine
Try probiotics – specific for the urine tract and vagina
In fact what I want to address with you are some other strategies that I have used with my patients with recurrent UTIs. You need to discuss these strategies with your doctor.
First thing! If you know you have recurrent UTIs ask your doctor for lab test of your urine. Know well which bacteria you commonly grow in your urine and are any of these bacteria resistant to any antibiotics. And always keep that info with you. So if you go to different doctors they don’t end up giving you an antibiotics that does not work. Stay ahead of your infections, know what you have that way you are better informed and you can direct your doctor better.
1. Post-Coital Prophylaxis For women with recurrent UTIs after sex.
This involves taking 1 low dose antibiotic right after sex to help prevent the UTI from progressing. This is better than having to taking an entire 5 -7 day long course of antibiotics once you’ve had the UTI in full bloom.
2. Self-Start Therapy – keeping a stand by supply of antibiotics to target a UTI very early on.
This is only advisable upon discussion with your doctor is cases of recurrent UTIs. The moment the earliest symptoms kick in like lower abdominal pain or some burning sensation with urination or increased frequency of peeing then you can immediate start on a short course of antibiotics that might last you only 3 days as opposed to longer.
3. If dryness is the issue that to predisposing you to UTIs then seek a more longer lasting solution for this.
Ask about means and ways to improve the dryness in the long run. Eg. in menopausal women, using estrogen cream or vaginal laser therapy to rejuvenate and remodel the vaginal and vulval walls making it more hydrated and the use of platelet rich plasma, which are growth factor that are painlessly injected into the vulval area and around the urethra for longer lasting hydration and improved function.
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