Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are so common that most women get them at some point in their lives. And nearly all will tell you, it’s an unpleasant experience.
The symptoms of a UTI may include a frequent urge to pee and a painful, burning feeling in the area of the bladder or urethra during urination. Often women feel an uncomfortable pressure above the pubic bone. It’s also common that, despite the urge to urinate, only a small amount of urine is passed.
Sadly, many women suffer from reoccurring infections. Known as chronic or recurrent UTIs, they are defined as having at least two infections in six months, or three infections in one year. The numbers aren’t good. Nearly 20 percent of women who have a UTI will have another UTI 30 percent of women who have two UTIs will have another UTI. And 80 percent of women who have more than two UTIs will have recurrences.
Recurrent urinary tract infections usually stem from a strain or type of bacteria that is different from the infection before it. This means the new infection is separate from the last infection.
There are treatment options for recurrent UTIs. One involves taking low doses of antibiotics daily for at least six months. Research has shown this is effective without causing serious side effects.
There are also ways to help prevent UTIs in the first place. Drink six to eight glasses of water every day. This is thought to help flush out the bacteria, as frequent passing of water by urination can help prevent bacteria from reaching infectious numbers in the bladder.
Urinate after having sex to help wash away any bacteria.
Wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria around the anus from entering the vagina or urethra.
Avoid using feminine hygiene sprays and scented douches. They can irritate the urethra.
Drink unsweetened cranberry juice. With a UTI, the body tries to acidify urine to stop bacteria from growing, causing the burning feeling during urination. Cranberries contain an acid that lowers the pH of the urine, making it more acidic.
Sexual intercourse and/or penetration can push bacteria into the bladder. Change positions so the penis or finger is not rubbing against the urethral opening hole.
Learn about alternatives to spermicides. Spermicides can alter the natural balance in the vagina, killing off friendly bacteria and allowing pathogenic ones to flourish, causing an infection.
Women who have recurrent urinary tract infections should talk with their doctor about both treatment and prevention options.