Infections of the lower urinary tract can be common in young women, during pregnancy and in per- and post-menopausal women.
The cause of frequent UTIs can be multi-fold. Although urinary tract is normally sterile, bacteria can migrate from the rectum or vagina to the urethra. Hormonal imbalances, imbalances in the vaginal pH, pregnancy and improper hygiene are all possible culprits.
As a naturopathic doctor I am always looking to find the root cause. Frequent use of antibiotics increases the risk of antibiotic resistant bacteria as well as the destruction of the beneficial gut and vaginal flora. Antibiotic use also increases the risk of vaginal yeast infections. I am not saying that antibiotics should not be used. However, if UTIs become frequent, it is important to find out why they occur to prevent them in the future.
– Can be asymptomatic
– Frequent urge to urinate
– Pain on urination
– Pressure or pain above the pubic bone in the bladder even when not urinating
– Difficulty passing urine
– Cloudy or milky urine that can be pink or reddish if there is blood present
About 15% of menopausal women experience frequent bladder infections. At menopause there is a breakdown in the natural defense mechanisms that usually protect against bacterial growth in the urinary tract. The primary goal in the natural approach to treating bladder infections is to enhance normal host-protective measures against urinary tract infection. These measures include enhancing the flow of urine by achieving and maintaining proper hydration, promoting a pH that will inhibit the growth of the organism, and preventing bacterial adherence to the endothelial cells of the bladder. It is also important to re-establish a hormonal balance. This can be done using herbs, acupuncture or bio-identical hormones.
Most infections are bacterial, most commonly E. coli.
Normal healthy flora of the vagina and urethra include lactobacilli, streptococcal sp, staphylococcal sp. When the vaginal flora is altered from the use of antibiotics and spermicides, it gives pathogenic bacteria the opportunity to colonize.
A few botanicals and nutrients that are helpful in the treatment of UTIs:
– Vitamin A