You’re getting ready to head out the door, buzzing with excitement to enjoy the super fun plans you’ve had lined up for weeks now, and then suddenly it strikes—that awful feeling of a UTI coming on. The fact that you’ve done everything you’re supposed to since the last one—not holding it when you have to pee, urinating after sex, always wiping front to back, wearing cotton underwear, etc.—makes it frustrating AF to experience a recurring UTI. Not only does it completely derail your daily life, but it can also be downright demoralizing to feel like you’re never going to get rid of this damn infection.
Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common plight for many women. Between 50 percent and 60 percent of adult women will have at least one UTI in their lifetime, and 27 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 39 will experience a recurrence within six months of an initial UTI. What’s even more troubling is that the diagnostic method for treating UTIs is completely antiquated. To be precise, the bacterial culture (AKA what’s currently considered to be the gold standard in UTI testing) was invented in 1880—that’s a full 27 years before Ford’s Model T car was released in 1908. Yeahhhhh, it’s that old.
The biggest problem with urine cultures is that they often fail to pinpoint the exact organism(s) causing the UTI, leaving doctors to guess which is the correct antibiotic to prescribe for your particular infection. Sometimes it’s the right one, and sometimes it’s not. And if it’s not, the UTI will continue to recur, leading too many women down a spiral of hopelessness.
Fortunately, diagnostic testing has experienced a surge of innovation in recent years, and there is cutting-edge technology now available to help you identify the exact cause of your UTI. It’s still being under-utilized in the healthcare system because many physicians are simply not aware of it. So, if you should find yourself facing a recurring UTI (or you’ve been diagnosed with interstitial cystitis), here’s everything you can do to advocate for yourself and ensure you’re getting the 21st-century treatment you need to finally kick your infection to the curb once and for all.
1. Find the root cause of your UTI with modern testing
Step aside urine cultures—there’s a new kid in town. MicroGenDX has an at-home urine test that combines two advanced technologies called next-generation sequencing (NGS) and qualitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to identify all of the microbes in your urine sample with 99 percent accuracy. Instead of relying on bacterial cultures to grow, it reads their DNA and then compares it to the over 57,000 bacteria and fungi in their database to pinpoint the *exact* pathogen(s) causing your UTI.
This technology is so next-level compared to 19th-century urine cultures, especially when you consider only 1-2 percent of all known microbes can even be grown in a laboratory culture. If the bacteria or fungus that’s causing your infection doesn’t grow in the culture, your doctor won’t know which antibiotic to prescribe. And prescribing the wrong antibiotic will not only continue the vicious cycle of UTI recurrence, but it can also lead to antibiotic resistance.
You can order MicroGenDX’s UroKEY UTI test directly from their website, and the test itself is both affordable and super easy to use. You simply collect a urine sample at home and send it back in the box with the enclosed return label. Within 24-48 hours of receiving your sample, you’ll receive your results detailing precisely which bacteria or fungi is causing your UTI along with the specific antibiotics that are recommended to treat it, which you can then share with your doctor.
2. Get the correct antibiotics prescribed
As soon as you suspect you might have a UTI, it’s important to make an appointment to see your primary care physician or OBGYN or go to an urgent care center so that you can obtain a prescription for antibiotics. Be sure to share which antibiotics you were prescribed for any previous UTI(s) and provide them with a copy of your UroKEY UTI test results. This will ensure your doctor is able to prescribe the correct antibiotic to treat your specific infection and help avoid the whole guessing game entirely.
3. Take urinary pain relief meds
While antibiotics work to treat the infection, they don’t actually offer any relief from UTI symptoms, like pain, pressure, burning, frequency, or urgency. To help alleviate these issues while you’re waiting for the infection to clear up, you can take an over-the-counter medication called Phenazopyridine (commonly sold under the brand name AZO). It contains a natural dye that turns your urine a bright orange color (and heads up, it can stain your underwear or clothing), but it’s very effective at relieving those uncomfortable UTI symptoms. You could also take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help reduce pain and inflammation.
4. Consider urinary tract health supplements
While supplements won’t treat an active infection (you’ll need antibiotics for that), there are some promising studies that show some supplements can help prevent a UTI from recurring. Here are a few worth considering:
- Cranberry is perhaps the best-known UTI remedy. It contains Proanthocyanidins (PACs), which prevent bacteria from adhering to the lining of the urinary tract. Look for cranberry supplements that have at least 36 milligrams of PACs.
- D-Mannose has been shown to be highly effective at preventing UTIs. Similar to cranberry supplements, it stops bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract lining, and it also helps to cleanse biofilm and flush out pathogens.
- Probiotics help to replenish the good bacteria that get killed off when taking antibiotics. They can help restore a healthy vaginal microbiome so your body is more prepared to fight off a UTI naturally.
5. Drink water to stay hydrated
When you feel a UTI coming on, consider water to be your bestie. It’s extremely important to stay well-hydrated because the more water you drink, the more you will have to pee, which flushes the bad bacteria out of your urinary tract. It also helps to dilute your urine so there’s a lesser concentration of bacteria in it. Plus, staying hydrated helps boost your immune system, so it’s better equipped to fight off the infection. One study even showed that increased daily water intake can reduce the risk of having a UTI recurrence. So, take this as your sign to fill up your favorite water bottle and get guzzling.
This post is sponsored by MicroGenDX, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.
Please consult a doctor or a mental health professional before beginning any treatments. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.
Source: Cosmo Politian