Are antibiotics the cause, not the solution, of your recurrent UTIs?

For Women Just for Tummies Probiotics

I would like to share some recent, interesting research that supports my long-standing belief that anyone who struggles with UTIs should be taking one of our For Women capsules twice daily!

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the one of the most common types of infection in women, affecting more than 50% of women at some point during their lifespan. Characterised by abdominal pain and pressure, a nearly constant feeling that you need to pee, and a burning feeling when urinating. Such symptoms affect relationships, cause fatigue and low mood.

A round of antibiotics is the most common course of treatment, and usually clears up the symptoms – temporarily. Once UTIs start, it’s tough to stop them: 25 to 40% of women who get a UTI will have at least one more within six months.

25 to 40% of women who get a UTI will have at least one more within six months.

Since they’re so common, frequently recur and can spread to the kidneys and cause serious damage, scientists are on a mission to figure out why some women may get stuck in a vicious cycle of infection-antibiotics-infection-antibiotics. It turns out that antibiotics might make it easier for women’s bodies to fall victim to another infection.

A study published in Microbiome Post found that the answer to getting out of this painful loop might be hiding in our gut. We have to remember that a course of broad spectrum antibiotics may eliminate the disease-causing bacteria (usually e-coli) in the bladder, but broad-spectrum antibiotics also affect the microbiome in the gut, killing off billions of friendly bacteria, with the more antibiotic resistant pathogenic, disease-causing strains surviving the onslaught of the antibiotics, and thus becoming the dominant ones in the gut. The more strains of disease-causing bacteria in the gut, the higher the likelihood of getting another UTI as these bacteria can spread to the bladder once more, causing another UTI. It makes sense, therefore, to ensure there are billions of friendly bacteria, not just in the bladder, but in the gut to help crowd out the pathogenic strains, and this, in turn, will help prevent future UTIs.

The researchers studied urine, blood, and stool samples of 15 women with recurrent UTIs (defined as two in 6 months or three in one year) and 16 women without. They tracked the amount and types of bacteria in their stool, tested for bacteria in their urine and examined gene expression in their blood samples.

During the one-year study, 24 UTIs were diagnosed, all among those with histories of previous UTIs. The researchers then took additional samples from the women post-diagnosis to add to their database.

UTIs are most often triggered by E. coli bacteria from the intestines that work their way into the urinary tract. Fascinatingly, both groups had E. coli strains in their gut that could cause UTIs. But women who have recurrent UTIs tend to have less diverse microbiomes than their UTI-free peers. These women were especially lacking in an impactful type of good bacteria, a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate, which can offer some anti-inflammatory benefits. With two major gut health defences down, the invading bacteria had more opportunity to proliferate and infect the urinary tract another time.

Read the research findings in full here.

While this was a small, fairly short-term study, the researchers hope these preliminary findings raise two major red flags:

  • Antibiotics might not be the best treatment option for all people experiencing UTIs. The study clearly demonstrates that antibiotics do not prevent future infections or clear UTI-causing strains from the gut, and they may even make recurrence more likely by keeping the microbiome in a disrupted state.
  • Medical professionals who think it’s all about hygiene need to think again. It’s frustrating for people who are visiting their GP with recurrence after recurrence after recurrence, and the doctor gives them advice about hygiene. That’s not necessarily what the problem is. The problem lies in the connection between the gut and the bladder and levels of inflammation. All GPs have is antibiotics, so they throw more antibiotics at the problem, which probably just makes things worse.

Supplements to rebalance the gut microbiome

There are some simple and effective alternative ways to potentially eradicate UTI-causing strains of E. coli while still allowing the good bacteria to survive and thrive.

My sure-fire recommendation is supplementing with probiotics, in particular, my For Women capsules, which contain a unique strain of bacteria, lactobacillus reuteri; studies have shown that this strain helps to reduce recurring UTIs.

By taking daily probiotics, women can rebalance their gut by introducing more friendly bacteria to help crowd out the E. coli, which should result in a reduction in UTIs.

It’s such a simple protocol, and it’s one that works.  Read how Clare, after struggling (unnecessarily) for such a long time with UTIs and cystitis, started taking our For Women capsules and, lo and behold, the problems were resolved:

The essential fatty acids in my Omega 3 capsules are also beneficial as they are an antioxidant, as are my Garlic tablets so these supplements can help build a more resilient immune system, better able to fight off inflammation and infections. 

If you have any questions about urinary or gut health, or would like to know more about our products, please get in touch.