A urinary tract infection (UTI) can happen to anyone of any age, even babies. However, the most common victims of UTIs are women – older women, in particular. Women are about 10 times more likely than men to get a UTI and close to 60% of women will experience one or more UTIs in their lifetime.
One reason for this is due to the anatomical differences in urethra length between men and women. Women have a significantly shorter urethra than men, making it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder. The urethra in women is also much closer to the anus than in men, which makes it easier for bacteria to wind up in the wrong place. Older women can also suffer with vaginal atrophy, which affects the pH of the vagina, increasing the risk of a UTI.
That being said, the main cause of urinary tract infections is bacteria. UTIs occur when bacteria get in your urinary tract. This can happen due to poor hygiene, certain contraception methods, increased sexual activity and an ageing vagina/bladder.
The microbiome of the bladder also changes as we age; the more dominant species of bacteria in the bladder need to be what are known as your commensal gut bugs; they perform various crucial health functions – protect against pathogens, metabolise indigestible fibres, maintain the health of the gut lining and train immune cells to function properly. The more diverse the community of commensal bacteria, the better, as this makes the immune system more resilient to disruptions such as stress or antibiotics. As we age, a loss of microbial diversity can occur making us vulnerable to more opportunistic pathogens, including E.coli, the most common culprit for a UTI.
The usual course of treatment for a UTI is antibiotics, which do a good job of getting rid of the infection but also wreak havoc on the community of helpful bacteria that are there to fend off these very infections. Studies have shown that women with recurrent UTIs tend to have less diverse microbiomes, making it easier for the pathogenic strains of bacteria to overgrow. Such findings only highlight how important it is to find alternatives to treating UTIs with antibiotics, and better still, preventing them from occurring in the first place.
Tips for reducing the risk of UTIs
- Always, always take a course of Live Bacteria probiotic capsules if you’ve had antibiotics to treat a UTI. Broad-spectrum antibiotics may clear up a UTI, but they will also decimate the friendly bacteria in the bladder. E.coli bacteria are more resistant to antibiotics and this imbalance can increase the risk of UTI. Take one Live Bacteria capsule before breakfast and one before bed with a small glass of cold water, for a minimum of 30 days, but ideally 90 days.
- If you get recurring UTIs or even an irritable bladder, you need to take one For Women probiotic capsule daily, before breakfast and one before bed. I talk more about how I came to develop our For Women probiotic capsules and how they have helped many of our Just For Tummies customers in this video.
- For anyone with UTIs under control, but struggling with digestive issues, the recommended protocol is one Live Bacteria capsule before breakfast and one For Women capsule before bed. If you have any questions about which protocol is for you, please contact us.
- Avoid getting constipated. There is a link between sluggish bowels and UTIs. Toxins from retained faeces may be able to pass through the bowel wall into the bladder, increasing the risk of a UTI. Constipation also puts pressure on the bladder, affecting its ability to empty properly and this then allows the pathogenic strains of bacteria to multiple and cause an infection.
- Always urinate and wash your vagina after sexual intercourse. There is always the potential for E.coli bacteria from the rectum to travel up the urethra into the bladder during/after intercourse, so take measures to try and prevent this. If you do get regular UTIs, and practice anal sex, stop! Anal sex is a sure-fire way of introducing E.coli bacteria into the bladder and causing a UTI.
- If you’re menopausal, there is an increased risk of getting a UTI as the vagina begins to dry out and tissues atrophy, so use a natural lubricant like ‘Yes’ or ‘Wyld’ to keep the vagina lubricated.
- For more information on the management of UTIs, you can download our free UTI Fact Sheet here.
If you have any questions about urinary, digestive or gut health, please get in touch.