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Chronic UTI: Time For a Different Approach

Have you had chronic UTI's? Defined as more than two UTIs in a 3 month period or more than 3 per year.

Have you taken antibiotics but still have UTI symptoms?

Have you been tested for UTI and the test comes back negative but the doctor gives you antibiotics to take anyway?

These are all signs of chronic UTI. It may feel like burning when you urinate, pain in your bladder or pelvis, discomfort when sitting, yet nothing seems to relieve your symptoms.

Your symptoms may be due to tight pelvic floor muscles or what is called "painful bladder syndrome" or used to be called "insterstitial cystitis." These are other common diagnoses for chronic UTI that is not positive for the bacterial infection in the urinary tract or kidneys. In men it can be labeled "chronic prostatitis" or "non-bacterial chronic prostatitis."

Here are some other things that may help:

1. Pelvic floor therapy. Again, if your pelvic floor muscles are tight and tense all the time this can feel similar to a UTI. The pelvic floor muscles may be tight in response to the original pain or they may be tight and causing pain, either way it often gets stuck in a viscous cycle that needs to be stopped in order to relieve the pain.

2. Stop douching. The vagina has a very sensitive microbiome and it is like a self-cleaning oven, it doesn't need to be cleaned with any product. In fact, using cleansing products internally can disrupt this healthy microbiome and put you at risk for increased infections. The vagina is a moist, dark place which is a perfect breeding ground for infection, however the body produces good bacteria in order to protect it from infection. If you really feel the need to clean your vagina it is best to use just warm water on the outside. If that doesn't feel like enough then a mild, scentless soap to clean the outside with warm water is the most cleaning you should do. Never use scented soaps or cleaners, that is just introducing unnecessary chemicals into the vagina.

3. Pee after sex or masturbation. To be honest, I have never found medical or scientific studies on this, but we will just say it is a good idea to flush out whatever has been introduced into the vagina.

4. Use only sex toys made with body safe materials. Plastic is not recommended because it can be very porous and harbor bacteria. Silicone and glass are body safe materials. See my previous post on toxic toys.

5. Use unscented lube. Use lube that isn't made with parabens or glycerine. See my earlier post on lube.

6. Get tested for STI, sexually transmitted infections. Make sure you have ruled out any sexually transmitted infections as the cause of your symptoms.

7. Drink water. Again there is no scientific evidence on how much water one should drink in a day, but likely many of us are not drinking enough. Try to tune in to what your body's physical needs are. Drink when you are thirsty. Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day. Also, sip don't gulp. Drinking a large amount of liquid at once can fill up the bladder quickly and cause irritation for some who are already sensitive. It is better if you can sip some water throughout the day, that way the bladder fills up more slowly and can be less irritating to your symptoms.

8. Cut down on sugar. I know this is a hard one! Sugar is my weakness too, but if you have an overgrowth of bad bacteria or yeast it feeds and grows on sugar. Limiting sugar will limit the growth of bad bacteria. On the flip side, try to eat more vegetables and whole grains to increase your fiber intake in order to flush out any overgrowth of bad bacteria or yeast.

Try these tips and let me know if they help. Call or email to schedule a time to talk more about your chronic UTI and how pelvic floor PT may be the help you need.

Also, share this with your friends and family members who always seem to have a UTI, and be sure to subscribe so you don't miss any info.

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