Why do I keep getting UTIs?

Thirty to forty percent of women who have experienced a UTI will have to deal with one again in a few months. Bacteria such as E.coli can enter the urethra again and cause a UTI, or bacteria from a previous infection can remain in the urinary tract and cause a recurrent infection.  Other UTI causes that put you at risk for include:

  • • Anatomy: Women have a shorter urethra than men, and it is much closer to the vagina and anus. Not only does this make it easier for bacteria to get in, but they have a shorter distance to travel to get to the bladder.
  • • Genetics: Some people have cells with toll-like receptors that bacteria can bind to more easily.
  • • Menopause: When your body produces less estrogen, there is less “good” bacteria to fight off the “bad” bacteria.
  • • Sexual activity: Bacteria is easily transferred to your urethra during sex, which is why it is important to pee after sex.
  • Compromised immune system: If you have diabetes or have a chronic illness, you are more vulnerable to an infection.
  • • Habits: Holding in your urine for too long or wiping improperly can increase your risk of a UTI.

Although personal habits may help curb recurrent UTIs, remember that recurrent UTIs can happen because some women are more prone UTIs than others.

Why do I keep getting UTIs

What are usual UTI symptoms?

UTI symptoms are less than stellar, as they start to dictate how your day will play out despite any plans you have. You should consult your doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing:

  • • A painful, burning sensation when you urinate.
  • • Dark, bloody, or cloudy urine with a foul smell.
  • • An intense and frequent need to urinate.
  • • Only being able to squeeze out a few drops when you go to the bathroom.
  • • Pain in your sides, pelvic region and lower abdomen.
  • • Fever, vomiting, nausea, and chills.
UTI symptoms may present themselves differently in older patients. Other indications to look out for include lack of mobility and appetite, agitation, and confusion.

What is cystitis?

Cystitis is the inflammation of the bladder, and is usually referred to as a bladder infection. It is a type of urinary tract infection. Cystitis occurs when bacteria from your gastrointestinal tract such as E.coli are introduced to the opening of your urethra and climb up to your bladder, bind to the bladder walls, and multiply.

What does is mean to have recurrent UTIs?

Recurrent UTIs or chronic UTIs are infections that come back even after they have been treated with antibiotics. Recurrent UTIs happen for a number of reasons: age, menopause, diabetes, genetics, and the fact that women have shorter urethras than men.

What are chronic UTIs?

Chronic UTIs or recurrent UTIs are infections that do not respond to medicine and keep recurring. They are more common in women due to the fact that a woman’s urethra is within close proximity to the vagina and anus, where UTI-causing bacteria live. Women’s urethras are shorter than men’s, so bacteria have a shorter “ladder” to climb when it comes to colonizing the bladder.

How do I prevent and get rid of recurrent UTIs?

Knowing how to prevent UTIs is key If you suffer from chronic UTIs:

  • • Post-sex pee: Flush out any bacteria that may have travelled up to your urethra during sex.
  • • Always wash between switching from anaal to vaginal sex.
  • • Stay hydrated.
  • • Steer clear of feminine sprays, douches, and spermicidal lube that can throw off your bacterial balance.
  • • Consider probiotics.
  • • Shower instead of taking a bath.
  • • Do not hold your pee over a long period of time, go when your body tells you to.
  • • Wear cotton undies and go commando at night to get some air to your area!
When a recurrent UTI causes you to call it a day (again), drink Uqora to stay ahead of the game.

Prevent recurring and chronic UTIs with Uqora

Have you ever heard that once you get one UTI, your chances of getting another goes up? That's because bacteria can hide themselves with a tool called biofilm, and wait for a good time to release themselves. That's why some UTIs seem to come out of nowhere, leading to recurring UTIs. Take Uqora Control to combat recurring UTIs, and drink Uqora Target to flush out any new bacteria introduced from specific activities, like sex or exercise.

You guys... this stuff is a life saver.

"I suffered from CHRONIC UTIs and have had some pretty serious repercussions from taking mass amounts of antibiotics. I have not had a UTI since I started taking uqora. I drink it after things that are my triggers (sex in particular) and it stops it in its tracks!"
Lacey, Uqora customer
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The Problem with Recurrent UTIs

A recurrent UTI, also called a chronic UTI, is an infection that keeps coming back, even after treatment with antibiotics. These infections can happen 2 or 3 times per year, once every other month, once per month or even multiple times per month. This can be endlessly frustrating for the person on the receiving end of these repeat infections, as they mean more painful UTIs, more visits to the doctor's office, and more cycles of antibiotics.

If the individual continues to experience recurrent UTIs, their doctor might put them on prophylactic antibiotics, which means the constant use of antibiotics just to prevent an infection from happening. Antibiotic resistance puts those with recurrent UTIs at serious risk. The more frequently an individual takes antibiotics for an infection, the more likely it is bacteria will develop resistance to those antibiotics, which makes it less likely that treatment will be effective the next time around. This makes it very important that specific antibiotics are used to treat recurrent UTIs. It has become more and more apparent that bacteria are in a constant arms race with not only antibiotics but our immune system as well.

What puts people at risk for recurrent UTIs, and why can they happen? Some reasons are physical, behavioral, or age-related, but as we’ll learn, running into the wrong type of bacteria can make all the difference in developing a recurrent UTI.

 

The Bacterial Arms Race 

Recent research has shown that strategies bacteria use to avoid our immune system and our antibiotics may be the main cause of recurrent UTIs. 90% of Urinary Tract Infections are caused by the bacteria E. coli. Yet, there are many different types of E. coli, and some are better equipped at dodging the immune system than others. 

What makes some of them so much worse than others is the ability to lay dormant, and survive long periods of time inside our own cells. These bacteria get inside cells in the urinary tract and create what is called a ‘biofilm’, a protected cluster that is safe from our immune cells and even from antibiotics. These bacteria can survive through a cycle of antibiotics, and once complete when the immune system is weakened the bacteria can grow and re-establish an infection.

New research has also shown that inflammation and damage to cells during an infection can weaken the outer protective cells and make you more susceptible to a subsequent infection, leading to recurrent UTIs if the protective mucosal layer is not able to be repaired before being exposed to more bacteria.

In a recent review entitled Urinary Tract Infections: Epidemiology, Mechanisms of Infection and Treatment Options, the authors detail the risks of continuing to use antibiotics as a treatment method for recurrent UTIs noting “Moreover, high rates of recurrent UTIs suggest that antibiotics are not an effective therapy for all UTIs."

bacteria in the urinary tract

Anatomy
The way our bodies are built can put some women at higher risk of recurrent UTIs. UTIs are much more common in women than in men as a result of physical difference. For example, women’s urethras are shorter than men’s, and the urinary tract opening is positioned more closely to the rectum. Both of these differences make it easier for bacteria to establish themselves in the urinary tract. 

These same factors play a role in the likelihood of some women getting UTIs more easily than others. If a woman’s urethra is particularly short, she can be at higher risk of urinary and bladder infections. In addition, bacteria are often flushed out by the flow of urine. If the urethra is particularly wide or the muscles surrounding the bladder are weak, the flow of urine can be light, making it easier for bacteria to hold on to the urinary tract wall.

Behavior

Certain behaviors put an individual at risk of developing a urinary tract infection. That means that repeating those behaviors can lead to frequent or recurrent UTIs developing. These behaviors can include not urinating after sexual activity, not drinking enough water, wearing undergarments that don’t breathe well, prolonged physical activity, and long periods without a shower.

Age and Menopause

As women age, they become more at risk of recurrent UTIs. There are 3 main reasons.

  1. With growing age, the immune system weakens, making women more vulnerable to not just UTIs, but all infections.
  2. Menopause causes significant changes in the hormones of aging women. This can affect the makeup of vaginal bacteria, which can protect the urinary tract by making it more difficult for dangerous bacteria to infect the vagina and travel to the urinary tract where they can cause an infection.
  3. The muscles around the bladder responsible for emptying the bladder of urine weaken as we age. This leads to incontinence, or an inability to properly empty the bladder, as well as a lessened urinary flow. Incontinence puts women at increased risk of UTIs as urine isn’t cleared from the bladder.

Recurrent UTIs impact us all differently

You're in Good Company

UTIs are extremely common among women — roughly one in every two women you know will get a UTI at some point in their life. About one in four women will suffer from recurrent UTIs

Why do some women get UTIs so frequently, while others do not? Those of us who get frequent UTIs sometimes have a specific condition or circumstance that puts at higher risk—specifically, pregnant women, elderly women and people with diabetes are at higher risk. For women who do not fall into those categories, the risk of developing frequent UTIs can be related to anatomy or habits. 

Pregnant women

A woman’s risk of developing a UTI throughout pregnancy increases for a few reasons. For one, the uterus is located directly above a woman's bladder. As her uterus grows, it can obstruct her bladder. Sometimes that can block drainage, and stagnant urine can be an inviting place for bacteria to grow. Additionally, hormonal changes during pregnancy can make it easier for bacteria to travel up the urinary tract. These changes make frequent UTIs a common phenomenon in pregnant women

Elderly people

As we age, our risk of developing frequent UTIs increases for a few reasons. In general, our immune system weakens over time, making it more difficult for our body to defend itself against harmful bacteria. As women age and go through menopause, estrogen production declines, too. Reduced estrogen may allow UTI causing bacteria to grow and establish themselves more easily, causing an infection. 

Another important change is that the muscles around the bladder weaken as we age. Weakened muscles make it more difficult to fully expel urine, and the remaining urine can be an inviting place for bacteria to grow.

Finally, catheters often introduce bacteria that can cause UTIs, and catheters are more often necessary for elderly patients. 

People with diabetes

Another group of people more prone to frequent UTIs is people with diabetes. People who have diabetes have an increased risk because they may also struggle to fully release the bladder due to a range of things such as neural damage and compromised blood flow

Additionally, people with diabetes commonly take a medication called Jardiance that works by filtering sugar from the blood and releasing it in the urine. The sugar in the urine makes infection more likely for two primary reasons:

  1. Bacteria in the urinary tract can eat this sugar and use it to grow and spread.
  2. When urine dries outside the urethra, this can make sugar available for bacteria to spread into the urinary tract. Jardiance has shown to really improve the health of those with diabetes but also comes with the unfortunate side effect of frequent urinary tract infections.

The rest of us

There are also a large number of women who suffer from recurrent UTIs that are not pregnant, post-menopausal, or diabetic.

The reasons why these women are prone to frequent UTIs range. In some cases, women’s anatomical difference makes it easier for bacteria to travel throughout some of our urinary tracts than others. Some women may develop more UTIs because of hygienic habits, like wiping back to front, or because they are frequently dehydrated and as such are not urinating enough.

Additionally, your odds of getting another UTI increases once you’ve had one, so even if you came down with a UTI as a one-time result of circumstances, you make become someone who gets UTIs frequently after your first.