Keeping Your Urinary Tract in Great Shape

April 26, 2017

You treat, it comes back. You treat again, it comes back again… It is a terrible way to live. 

 

Today, a post-menopausal friend … wait, that sounded weird. Today, a friend who is through menopause, asked me about some suggestions to treat her chronic UTIs. First, I gave her a hug, because as any of you who have had a UTI know, it can be brutal. You feel like you have to go to the bathroom really bad, and when you do, you dribble a couple drops that burn like hell, and then you still feel like you have to go to the bathroom really bad — sitting in five hours of terrible traffic after drinking two Trenta-sized Starbucks kind of really bad. It is awful. I had one a few decades ago, and they scared the daylights out of me. I haven’t had sex (with someone else) without immediately peeing upon completion since my 20s, and luckily I’ve been UTI free.

 

Some women are subject to chronic UTIs. You treat, they come back. You treat, they come back. You treat … It is a terrible way to live. This is more common after menopause when atrophic vaginitis sets in, because of lack of estrogen. Your vagina lives intimately with your urethra, which is how sex causes UTIs in the first place. When the vagina becomes dry, thin and inflamed, bacteria can set up camp and wreak havoc. Estrogen creams can help a lot, but some people are not candidates for estrogen replacement.

 

There are some other, more natural ways to improve the health of both your urinary tract and your vagina.

 

Urinary Tract

 

Cranberry and blueberry have been shown in some studies to prevent UTI. The current theory is they prevent the bacteria from sticking to the urethral wall. Cranberry juicehas tons of sugar and calories. Instead, you can take 800 – 1600 mg cranberry supplements each day and get the same effect as chugging Ocean Spray. Blueberries are so delicious, as soon as I buy them, my kids devour them. Buy them frozen and put in smoothies, or on top of your yogurt, cereal or oatmeal.

 

Uva Ursi is an herb known as Bearberry (adorably, because bears love it.) Have you ever met a bear with a UTI?! You can take supplements or drink it as a tea.

 

Omega-3 Fish Oil, which we should probably all be taking anyway for our heart health, is thought to protect against UTIs as well.

 

Atrophic Vaginitis


Simply stay hydrated. General dehydration will worsen areas already lacking moisture.

 

Probiotics can help to maintain the healthy vaginal flora, which will fight against infection-causing bacteria.

 

Vaginal moisturizers — there are many on the market — can keep the area moist. They aren’t all specifically for sex, so read the labels and don’t be embarrassed to buy them. If you are, order online.

 

Flax seeds, which have many health benefits, also have some estrogenic properties. As such, they can support a healthy vagina in a natural way. Incorporating 2 tbsp of flax meal a day into your diet may help and certainly can’t hurt.

 

Finally, if you have the symptoms of a UTI — urgency, frequency, burning upon urination — and you can’t get to your doctor, get to the pharmacy and buy Azo Urinary Pain Relief. It works almost instantly and will buy you some time until you can get an appropriate antibiotic.

 

 

 

 

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About Dr. Karen Latimer

I’m a family physician now struggling to take care of a bunch of kids who keep calling me Mom. When I’m not wiping butts, refereeing sibling rivalry and chauffeuring over-scheduled little people, I write a family medical blog that gives you five thoughts on all sorts of different health topics.