If you’ve experienced a urinary tract infection (UTI) before (or worse, suffer from recurring UTIs), there’s probably not much you wouldn’t try to prevent one from happening again. These infections are the second most common infection type in the U.S, with approximately 50-60% of women dealing with at least one in their lifetime. About 1/3 of women will be treated with antibiotics for a UTI by the age of 24, and it’s not uncommon for women to deal with recurring UTIs.
If you’ve not yet experienced a UTI in your life, consider yourself lucky! These infections appear anywhere in the urinary tract, particularly in the kidneys and bladder, and cause a host of symptoms that include:
These infections appear for a variety of reasons, such as using antibiotics too often, having poor hygiene, using spermicide, impaired immune function, and having sex. Roughly 90% of UTIs are a result of E. coli transferring from the intestinal tract to the urinary tract.
But there’s good news! There are several steps you can take to lessen the chances of requiring antibiotics for UTIs, relieve symptoms, and even prevent them from occurring. Keep reading to find out what you need to do.
The Standard Treatment for UTIs
Though E. coli is the most common bacteria to cause UTIs, viruses and fungi can also result in these infections. That means if you go to see your PCP about a UTI, you’ll end up with antibiotics. These antibiotics could be amoxicillin, ampicillin, Bactrim, cephalosporins, Cipro, doxycycline, nitrofurantoin, quinolones, sulfonamides, or trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole. Which antibiotic is used depends on what bacteria, virus, or fungi is causing your infection. And if you have recurring UTIs, your doctor might want you to begin taking low-dose antibiotics on a regular basis.
The problem with antibiotics? They can cause further problems down the road as they disrupt your gut microbiome and destroy beneficial bacteria that keep the bad bacteria away. And long-term use of antibiotics means antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains can develop in the gut, possibly result in kidney or bladder infections. By wreaking havoc on your gut microbiome, antibiotics can also sabotage your immune system, mood, digestion, and energy levels.
Since you don’t want to make things worse, go the functional medicine route instead!
The Natural Way to Prevent & Treat UTIs
When it comes to health challenges, such as UTIs, it’s best first to figure out what the root causes are. Utilizing functional assessments such as gut health, hormones, and food sensitivity testing is a great place to start. For more information and specifics on this option, please reach out to me so I can point you in the right direction.
In the meantime, here are a few ways to naturally prevent UTIs from occurring in the first place and how to treat a UTI if you get one.
D-mannose can be used in the prevention and treatment of UTIs. What is D-mannose? It’s a sugar that can naturally be found in certain foods, such as cranberries, apples, and blueberries. It works by binding itself to E. coli bacteria, thus ensuring the bacteria is eliminated from the body through the urine rather than sticking around in the urinary tract. In fact, one study found that 2 grams of D-mannose powder paired with 200 milliliters of water taken daily for 6 months resulted in a significantly lowered occurrence of recurring UTIs (plus, it had fewer side effects than antibiotics).
Taking D-mannose each day in this way can lessen the risk of getting a UTI. If you think you might be getting one, though, you can increase how many times you take a daily dose to a few times each day.
If your UTI is caused by a bacterium other than E. coli, then lauricidin could do the trick. Lauricidin is a proprietary form of monolaurin (a natural supplement derived from coconut oil), which has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. It works specifically well against bad bacteria, so the gut microbiome isn’t affected by blocking replication and ensures the immune system is more easily able to destroy the bad bacteria.
It's recommended that you begin lauricidin with 750mg two to three times a day and work up to 3000mg a day (if needed).
It may seem simplistic, but if you get UTIs often drink more water. The best way to get rid of bacteria in the urinary tract is by urinating, so the more water you drink the more bacteria you’re flushing out. And research backs this up! A study done in 2003 found that low fluid intake and infrequent urination were linked to UTIs.
Probiotics don’t just improve how well your digestive system works; they also improve your overall health by keeping your gut healthy. I’ve said it a million times, but having an imbalance in the health of your gut can lead to a host of health issues! Taking probiotics is an excellent way to lessen the chances of having a gut imbalance—one study even found that taking Lactobacillus regularly cut recurring UTIs in half.
Whether cranberry juice can help treat and prevent UTIs has been the subject of much debate over the years. There have been studies showing it does help, and there have been studies showing it doesn’t. But since it contains D-mannose, it makes sense it would be helpful. So, if this has worked for you in the past, absolutely keep using it. Just keep in mind you should be drinking unsweetened cranberry juice instead of the sugary stuff!
If you have a UTI or are suffering from recurring UTIs, don’t automatically go the route of antibiotics.
These drugs can cause more damage to your health further down the road and possibly even lead to more
UTIs! Instead, try the functional medicine route.
Step 1: use functional assessments to uncover the hidden stressors that are contributing to your challenges.
Step 2: consider using some of the natural alternatives mentioned above
If you’re unsure what might be best for you or have more questions, you can always reach out to me. I’m here to make your life easier and healthier!