I paused before writing this post as I considered whether it was TMI and erred on the side of ‘we’re all in this boat together.’  If you are a woman chances are that you have had to deal with Urinary Tract Infection.  50% of women get them.

It’s one of those things that is sooo uncomfortable that it’s easy to go running to the doctor for an antibiotic to get rid of the pain, oh, and get rid of that blood in my urine too please, pronto.  The problem is, if you take the antibiotics to clear up the Urinary Tract Infection the antibiotics will wipe out all the good bacteria in your body too, and then you’re stuck dealing with another one of those aggravating things most women have had to deal with–yeast infections.  So you escape one painful horrible problem by taking the antibiotic and you have effectively replaced one horrible problem for another horrible problem, all while smiling at friends and coworkers and the unsuspecting general public.

But if you’ve had more than a couple of them, then you can certainly tell when they are coming and start treating them right away.  I have never had to go to the doctor for a UTI, not to say that you shouldn’t go to the doctor if you need to–I prefer to handle things myself if I can.    “Conventional” methods tend to leave me with more problems to fix and I have always been able to take care of UTIs myself.  The girls at the spa helped me compile a ‘go to’ list for everything you can do when you start noticing that you have the tell tale signs of the dread infection:

  • urgency to pee even though not much of anything coming out
  • irritation in the urethra, especially when pee-ing
  • general discomfort in your lower abdomen
  • burning sensation
  • start to get worried if you are having fever and chills or if you have flank pain (time to go to the doctor for sure)

What can cause UTI?  UTI is a bacterial infection in the urethra that can spread to the bladder and then up to the kidneys where it can inflict serious damage.  As women, with short, little, somewhat exposed urethras there are some things that we do that give the wrong bacteria access to our insides:

  • Sex-all kinds of bacteria meshing together
  • Too much time in the hot tub-soften and swells tissue
  • wiping from back to front-brings E. Coli bacteria to the front
  • using a wash cloth to clean the area-roughs up the tissue making it easier for bacteria to ascend
  • women have a shorter urethra than men, 4cm in women compare to 20cm in men. This is why we are more susceptible.
  • some women simply have anatomically susceptible urethras.

It’s possible that you might have a resident population of bacteria that normally gets along just fine, but given ideal opportunities, takes advantage and overgrows repeatedly–kind of a dormant gang that has to be put in its place by your good bacteria on a regular basis.  Cops and robbers of planet Urethra!

What to do:

  • Drink water.  Lots.
  • Homeopathics
  • Uva Ursi (tea, tincture, or capsules)
  • “Just Cranberry “Juice (doesn’t have sugar which feeds bacteria)
  • Yarrow tincture
  • Cranberry (capsules)
  • Always pee after sex
  • don’t use a washcloth to cleanse

First thing you should do is stay hydrated.  Drink huge glasses of water.  Getting through the discomfort of a UTI is much easier with a full bladder and a steady stream of fresh urine.  If you have to have an urgent need to pee a lot it’s tons easier to do with a stream instead of a trickle.

My go to, first thing I used to tell people who asked was the Homeopathic Boiron Cantharis pills.  They can make life bearable while you are working on cleaning out your insides.  But one of the girls at the spa turned me on to Uva Ursi, something I bathed in after home birthing my babies (Web MD says not to use it with children or pregnant woment).  She has pills of Uva Ursi that she swallows and marvels at my ability to drink it as a tea.  I guess I’m pretty hard core.  I’d just as soon get rid of it than worry about what it tastes like.  “Just Cranberry” is super bitter too, but I just chug it straight down.  I’m interested in feeling better.  Tastes are temporary.

My nursing pathophysiology book even talks about cranberry juice as a remedy for UTI.  It works because the substances in the cranberry make the surfaces of the urinary tract slippery so that the bacteria cannot adhere and are washed out with the urine.

10% of women are asymptomatic and don’t feel a thing when they have a UTI.  UTIs can spread all the way to the kidneys if left untreated and become a serious problem.  Always check with the doctor when in doubt.

It helps to know that you’re not alone and there are plenty of options that can work that don’t involve medication, especially if it is a recurrent thing for you.

Do you have other tips for eliminating urinary tract infections?

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.