A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of the urinary system (urethra, bladder, ureters, or kidneys.) The infections typically start in the lower urinary tract, at the urethra and bladder.
The most common bacteria that causes the UTI is E. coli, which is found in our bowels (poop) and the surrounding area. It is IMPORTANT to know which exact bacteria you are growing if you have a positive UTI test, so we can best know how to treat it. The below tips are helpful for all UTIs, but are tailored specifically for E. coli infections.
UTIs don’t always cause symptoms. When they do, they may include:
- A strong urge to urinate that doesn’t go away
- A burning feeling when urinating
- Urinating often, and passing small amounts of urine
- Urine that looks cloudy
- Urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-colored — signs of blood in the urine (*Go to URGENT CARE*)
- Strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain — especially in the center of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone
*It is important to note that pelvic floor muscle spasms can irritate the pudendal nerve and cause some of the exact same symptoms as UTI’s. Therefore, it is VERY important to make sure you truly have a positive UTI prior to taking antibiotics.*
Can a UTI go away on its own?
Yes! Research estimates that 25 to 40% of uncomplicated UTIs in women can go away spontaneously. HOWEVER, keep in mind that there are risks associated with leaving UTIs untreated, so it’s important to seek treatment from a healthcare professional if you suspect you have a UTI.
Can I test for a UTI at home?
Yes, there are over the counter Urinary Tract Infection test strips: https://a.co/d/eCs3c03 .They test for presence of Leukocytes and nitrites – Leukocytes are white blood cells that indicate your immune system is fighting an infection – Bacteria that cause UTI’s change a normal chemical in your urine, called nitrates, into another chemical, called nitrites. So, if you have nitrites in your urine, it usually means that you have a UTI For patients with chronic UTI’s I recommend buying these ahead of time and having them on hand to make sure you go to Urgent Care when you have a positive test result. *Disclaimer: At-home UTI tests are quick and easy to use, but they don’t always provide accurate results. Your results may say you don’t have a UTI when you really do. So, you may still need to see your provider for a nitrites in urine test. If you think you have a UTI, ask your primary care provider which test is right for you.*
What cultures are you growing?
E. Coli Is The Most Common.
Are you positive they are actually UTIs and not pelvic floor muscle spasming and irritating the pudendal nerve? MDs will often prescribe an antibiotic based on symptoms. A urine test in the office looks for two things: 1) presence of leukocytes (white blood cells), AND presence of nitrates (a byproduct of bacteria). I always want you to ask for culture results, and to know specifically what bacteria you grew!!! (Takes a couple days to grow the culture).
Cranberry Juice? Eh, probably not
Part Old Wives Tale/Part Truth!
Store-bought cranberry juice contains a TON of sugar (which bacteria, like E. coli, LOVE). So I don’t recommend drinking cranberry juice for your UTI. However, D-mannose is the component in cranberries that binds E. coli and you can buy concentrated D-mannose pills to take as a natural preventive that is similar in effectiveness to a preventive antibiotic! [https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32497610/] While we’re on the topic of sugar, let’s go ahead and try to avoid intaking any and all sugars at the very least during the course of treatment for your UTI. I recommend this one, taking 2-4 capsules immediately after each sexual encounter OR taking one capsule daily if you are contracting UTIs even when you are not sexually active: https://a.co/83ktEk2
The pH of your urine matters!
E. coli doesn’t survive well in more acidic pH environments. Increasing the acidity of the urine (lowering the pH) can help create a more hostile environment for E. coli. We can take vitamin C to increase acidity. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for adults 75 mg/day for women. Foods that are high in Vitamin C: plums, cherries, chili peppers, guavas, yellow peppers, cantalope, parsley, mustard spinach, kale, kiwis, broccoli, brussel sprouts, lemons, strawberries, and oranges. This supplement brand has both D-mannose and Vitamin C: https://a.co/83ktEk2 Boric Acid suppositories can also increase acidity. BUT here are some important restrictions to keep in mind: – Boric acid should not be used during pregnancy — it’s toxic to the developing fetus. – Boric acid causes irritation to open wounds in and around the vagina and should not be used in such cases. – Boric acid is highly poisonous when taken orally. It should only be used as a vaginal suppository – If using boric acid increases burning at the introitus (the entrance to the vagina) it should be used at a lower dosage and/or discontinued.
Probiotics & a healthy gut
“In a healthy vagina dominancy of Lactobacillus spp. is observed. Many scientific studies have shown that regulation of the gastrointestinal and vaginal flora with probiotic support may prevent genitourinary infections.”[https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6134985/] Probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and L. reuteri RC-14 seem to be the best probiotics at prevention of UTI. I recommend this brand: https://a.co/d/erNVuuB
Simple tricks you might already know:
- Wash hands before sex to prevent unwanted bacteria
- Pee before and after sex within 5 mins.
- Make sure you’re fully voiding and no residual urine afterwards.
- Deep 360 breathing to relax your pelvic floor after sex.
- Wipe front to back (never back to front)
- Use a bidet when available
- Avoid spermicides
- Use Slippery Stuff lubricant to ensure osmolality and pH are closest to vaginal pH https://a.co/0JlOWTJ
- Don’t over wash (no douching, no soap on inner labia or in vagina) this washes away the natural bacteria that protect your tissue.
- Wear cotton underwear to decrease bacteria and excessive moisture that creates an attractive environment for bacteria.
- Some research suggests that certain contraceptives may contribute to the cause of UTIs in some women. Diaphragms, spermicides, and non-lubricated condoms can increase risk of UTIs. It may be worth talking with your doctor to consider other methods of birth control if you are using these and getting frequent UTI’s.
What do MD’s prescribe for a UTI?
- Trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Bactrim DS)
- Fosfomycin (Monurol)
- Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Macrobid, Furadantin)
- Ceftriaxone- If you are prescribed antibiotics: – You need to take the ENTIRE prescription in order to prevent the bacteria from creating an antibiotic resistant strain. – It’s important to take a probiotic during and after your antibiotic course. Lactobacillus, a type of bacteria that normally lives in our gut and helps keep it healthy, is recommended to prevent invaders like E. coli from attaching to cells and hiding until they cause a reinfection later. I recommend this probiotic.Ready to put a stop to your pelvic nightmares?