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How Common is a UTI?
Urinary tract infections are 50 times more common in women than men and it’s estimated that 20% of women are affected by UTI’s at some time during their lives. Many of these women will also experience recurrent episodes of UTI throughout their lifetime. As the urinary tract is usually sterile, UTI’s occur when bacteria are introduced. Most commonly it is E.coli (70-90%) and less commonly Staphylococcus (5-10%).
What Causes a UTI?
- Changes in estrogen levels as seen in menopause, pregnancy & pre period alter the delicate balance between good & bad bacteria in the vaginal tract
- Antibiotics, oral contraceptive pill & spermicides all alter vaginal flora
- Stress has the effect of suppressing the immune system allowing E.coli to proliferate
- Caffeine, alcohol, sugar also suppress the immune system and can increase risk of UTI’s
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
- Sex – nuns have 10% incidence of UTI’s compared to the average woman
How do you Prevent a UTI?
- Drink at least 8 glasses of filtered water very day
- Always wipe from front to back as E.Coli live in the colon and are introduced into the vagina when wiping from back to front
- Avoid tight fitting underwear and clothes
- Wear cotton lingerie and stockings rather than pantyhose
- Avoid the use of feminine hygiene sprays and powders
- Urinate after sexual intercourse
- Women with recurrent infections should avoid the use of possibly irritant contraceptive devices such as diaphragms with spermicides.
- Make sure you use organic tampons
- Avoid sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and animal fats as these have been to show to suppress the immune system.
- Eliminate food sensitivities in the diet as they may contribute to pH changes that weaken the immune system
- Shower after swimming in a chlorinated pool
- Always use chemical free laundry detergents and soaps
How can I Treat a UTI Naturally?
- Probiotics are a must as they normalise the bacterial balance in the vagina. Research shows that specific strains can reduce E.coli overgrowth.
- Speak to your Naturopath about vaginal probiotic therapy
- Increase garlic and onions as they are natural antibiotics
- Echinacea increases white blood cell activity
- Drink lots of herbal tea such as dandelion leaf and vegetable (not fruit!) juices
- Vitamin C in doses of 1 gram 3 times a day
- Herbs such as:
- Bearberry is a urinary antiseptic
- Couch grass soothes irritated membranes
- Calendula is anti inflammatory