Women are eight times more likely to suffer from urinary tract infections (UTIs) than men. More than half of women will experience a UTI in their lifetimes, and a third require antibiotic treatment before their 25th birthday. UTIs account for almost a quarter of the infections that women suffer.
About 1 in 5 women experience periods of chronic UTIs, defined as two or more infections in the past six months or three or more in a 12-month period.
If you’re dealing with chronic UTIs, you want help. Our team at Southeast Urogyn is ready to provide the care you need. We’re UTI treatment specialists with locations in Madison and Flowood, Mississippi.
Reasons for chronic UTIs
One of the reasons UTIs are predominately a female problem is anatomical. The shorter length of a woman’s urethra and its proximity to the vagina and anus mean that there’s a greater risk of bacteria traveling to the urinary tract.
Genetically, you could have a variation that makes your body a better host for the bacteria that cause UTIs.
Hygiene habits may contribute too. Wiping front to back reduces the risk of transferring bacteria to the urethra, and thorough drying prevents movement of bacteria across the fabric of undergarments as you walk, sit, or exercise.
Some health issues increase the chances of developing UTIs. Autoimmune diseases, diabetes, kidney stones, neurological conditions, or bladder stones can contribute to chronic UTIs. Life events that change the balance of estrogen, such as perimenopause and menopause, can increase your risk of infection.
Sexual activity is one of the most common sources of UTI infection before menopause. Transfer of bacteria between partners increases if you use spermicides as part of your family planning methods. The beneficial lactobacilli of the vagina offer natural protection against UTIs, but spermicides can reduce their numbers.
Treating chronic UTIs
We pinpoint the bacteria causing your infection and, if necessary, perform cystoscopy or computerized tomography (CT scan) to identify the underlying reasons for your chronic UTI condition. To break the cycle, we might prescribe low-dose antibiotics over a period up to two years, topical vaginal estrogen therapy, or self-directed antibiotics.
There may be lifestyle changes that could help reduce your reinfection risk as well as support your medical treatment. You should:
- Drink plenty of water to keep your urinary tract flushed of bacteria
- Urinate at the earliest urge
- Switch from baths to showers to reduce chances of bacterial migration
- Choose birth control methods other than a diaphragm and spermicide
- Urinate as soon as possible after sex
- Discontinue using scented feminine hygiene products
- Add a daily dedicated wash of your vagina and anus with mild soap and lots of water
While UTIs typically affect the urethra, your bladder, ureter, and kidneys can become infected, particularly when the original UTI isn’t treated promptly.
Call our nearest office to book your consultation, and we’ll take it from there. There’s a way around your chronic UTIs, and Southeast Urogyn is here to help. Make an appointment today.