So, why do women develop UTIs more frequently than men? Simply speaking - our anatomy. Our anatomy of our bladder and urethra differ slightly, with women having a much shorter urethra. Since the urethra is shorter, bacteria have less distance to travel. When bacteria enters your urinary tract it has the potential to cause an infection. When your immune system isn’t able to fight off the infection on its own, a bladder infection develops.
Symptoms of UTIs
There are many different types of symptoms associated with our pelvic area. From menstruation and digestive problems to simply needing to empty your bladder. But what are the symptoms of a UTI? Knowing the symptoms is the first step in knowing how to prevent them.
Common symptoms of a UTI include:
- Trouble peeing
- Painful urination
- Strong smelling pee
- Cloudy, dark or bloody urine
- Fever or chills
- Pain in the lower stomach or back
At first, your symptoms might come on slowly with increased urination at night and during the day with little to no pee actually coming out. This is a good indicator that you should start drinking lots of water. You can also try home remedies for UTIs or remedies that can offer natural relief for painful urination.
If you begin to develop pain in the lower back or fever and chills this is a serious sign that the infection has spread deeper into the bladder and possibly to your kidneys. If you experience serious symptoms of a UTI you should speak with your healthcare provider.
Although some women are prone to developing UTIs easier than others, there are several ways to help reduce the risk. In general, drinking lots of water is good for your health, but can also help reduce the risk of developing a bladder infection. When you don’t drink enough water regularly it can increase the risk of higher levels of bacteria in the bladder by not urinating frequently.
A study from Harvard University included 140 premenopausal women who experienced 3 or more infections in a year. The women with recurring UTIs self reported drinking less than 1.5 litres of fluid per day.
The women were randomly selected into two groups. The first group increased their water intake by 1.5 litres, and the second group continued consuming less than 1.5 litres of fluid per day. At the end of the study the women who increased their water intake had 50% fewer episodes of urinary tract infections. This means they required 50% less antibiotics than women who remained at less than 1.5 litres of fluid per day.
In conclusion, especially when you are prone to infections of the urinary tract, more water means fewer UTIs. It is also important to remember that fruits and vegetables contribute to your fluids per day and have many other benefits including healthier skin, less bloating and a healthy acid-base balance.
Home Remedies for UTIs
Antibiotics are used to treat UTIs and are sometimes used regularly in order to prevent recurrence in some women. Practicing good hygiene (after intercourse) and other prevention tools such as increased water can help reduce frequency, but sometimes a little extra help is required for relief.
There are many natural UTI relief remedies for painful urination, and other natural ways to prevent reinfection.
Top Home Remedies to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections or UTIs:
Drink plenty of water - as mentioned earlier, increasing water intake can help reduce the risk of increased bacteria in the bladder. Staying hydrated and increasing fluid intake increases urinary frequency. This helps to flush out bacteria possibly growing in the bladder. Including alkaline fruits and vegetables can help with hydration as well as including electrolyte supplements.
Increase Vitamin C - in studies it has been shown that increasing Vitamin C can help to acidify urine in the bladder. The environment can no longer support the bacteria’s needs, reducing the risk of infection or possibly treating infection.
Take a Probiotic - good bacteria have been shown to help treat UTIs as well as increase immune function overall. The main objective of probiotics is to promote a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut. Using a prebiotic in conjunction with probiotics or increasing fiber in your diet can also help to balance healthy bacteria.
Unsweetened Cranberry Juice - increasing the consumption of unsweetened cranberry juice is often recommended when dealing with UTIs. Although the research is split on whether it actually helps or not. Using unsweetened cranberry juice probably doesn’t have the ability to prevent UTIs on its own. It should be used in conjunction with other home remedies, Vitamin C and increased fluids.
Lifestyle Habits - practicing healthy habits that reduce the risk of bacteria getting into the urethra can help with prevention. Use the washroom when you feel the urge and avoid holding your pee for long periods of time. Urination after sexual intercourse is a good practice to help flush out any bacteria that might have entered the urethra.
Natural Supplements & Diet - there are several remedies that can help with painful urination, discomfort and urinary urgency. Increasing prebiotics and fibre in your diet can help with improved digestion and bowel movements. Lack of regular bowel movements can increase pressure on the urinary tract blocking movement and promoting bacteria growth.
UTIs can be a frequent and common problem for women and is a popular topic in women’s health. Staying hydrated, practicing good hygiene and eating a healthy diet can certainly lower your risk.