Women are more susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs) than men, and this is due to our anatomy. Women’s urethra are approximately 1.5 inches, whereas in a man, the urethra is approximately 8 inches – this means bacteria have a much shorter distance to travel, and women are at greater risk from bacteria that cause UTIs.
Menopausal women may also be more susceptible because declining oestrogen levels may affect elasticity of the bladder and urinary flow.
Symptoms of UTIs can vary, depending upon severity. Xavier Gras, technical director of Vita Green Europe, says the most common symptoms are: “An increase in number of urinations, uncomfortable urinations, lower abdominal pain, need for urgent urinations, local itching and a change in urine odour.”
If you are someone prone to UTIs, there are some simple steps you can take to help prevent them from reoccurring in the future.
Nutritional therapist Rose Holmes, education and training manager, recommends: “To reduce the chances of UTIs, avoid waiting to urinate. In addition to ensuring regular urination, good hygiene and supporting the immune system, consider supplementing with botanicals which have proven benefit for kidney and urogenital system – these include quebra pedra, shilpushpa, pashanabheda, manjishtha and gojihva.
“In addition to ensuring frequent urination, staying well hydrated is important – for flushing the system and aiding removal of toxins.”
Gras agrees: “Make sure you drink plenty of water – up to two or more litres everyday. Also, be sure the intimate hygiene is thorough, reduce weight, keep active, do not be seated for long periods of time (no more than two hours at a time), and urinate at least every four hours (except when sleeping).”
A natural remedy to try is cranberries. “It is well known from more than 200 years ago that American cranberry extracts can help to prevent UTIs,” explains Gras. “These extracts are very useful for those patients that use to have UTIs caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli: 80 percent of all UTIs are caused by this bacterium. American cranberry extracts avoid the adhesion of such bacteria to the inner wall of the urinary bladder and then the bacteria go away from the body through the urinary miction.”
Emma Dane, technical officer at Power Health Products Ltd, also suggests: “Take showers instead of baths and wear loose cotton underwear – make sure to change your underwear daily. Use specially tailored feminine hygiene products which promote a balanced pH for your intimate areas, which will help to reduce the growth of UTI causing bacteria.
“Consume a diet rich in whole fruits and vegetables focusing on green leafy vegetables, with a balance of wholegrain carbohydrates and lean proteins. Promote healthy bowel habits by including enough soluble and insoluble sources of fibre in your diet.”
She also recommends supplementing with D-mannose and probiotics: “D-Mannose is a simple sugar molecule which can be used to help your body to eliminate bacteria responsible for 90 percent of UTIs. Promote a healthy gut and help to reduce the amount of UTI causing bacteria by supplementing with healthy bacteria strains such as lactobacillus- available in supplement form or often in yoghurt drinks/ probiotic yoghurts.”