By Jenna Perkins RN, WHNP-BC
Half of all women will experience a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in her lifetime. The bothersome symptoms of painful urination, fever, blood in urine, cloudy/ foul smelling urine, and bladder spasms can be very disruptive. Recurrent infections cost time, energy, and money. Antibiotic use is an effective tool to treat active infections, but overuse can cause adverse outcomes like yeast infections. Overuse can also cause infections that are resistant to antibiotics and difficult or impossible to treat. Preventing UTIs must be a goal for the practitioner and patients dealing with UTIs. One of my favorite tools for preventing infections is d-mannose.
UTIs occur when bacteria found on the external body make its way into the urinary tract. Bacteria travels through the urethra (the bladder opening just above the vaginal opening). If the bacteria are not flushed out, they can imbed into the bladder and multiply. Serious infections ascend to the kidneys where they have the potential to cause damage.
Prevention measures include ways to keep the bacteria from entering the urethra. This includes techniques like wiping front to back (to keep e. coli found near the rectum from entering the urinary tract). Urinating after the urethra is irritated can also be helpful. This includes urinating after vaginal intercourse or after an exam where any device is inserted. It is important to make sure that the skin around the urethra is as healthy as possible. This could mean seeking treatment for any vaginal dryness that you might be experiencing. Staying well hydrated and emptying the bladder every 2-3 hours can also be helpful to flush out any harmful bacteria.
I recommend D-mannose to clients as it binds to bacteria that makes its way into the bladder and inhibits it from growing into an infection. The Happee brand is popular because it tastes great and is a chewable! I advise clients to take two tablets daily to prevent infection and double the dose when they are at greater risk for infections (like following intercourse).
About Jenna Perkins RN, WHNP-BC
Jenna is a board certified Women’s Health and Gender Related Nurse Practitioner. She is an expert in Urology, Urogynecology, Sexual Health, and Pelvic Floor disorders. She specializes in complex patients and offers a holistic approach to care through her practice, DiscovHer Health. When she is not helping her patients heal, you can find her enjoying being a wife and mom of two.