Urinary Tract Infections

The kidneys, bladder, and urethra are all part of the Urinary Tract. Any part may become infected. When it does, we call it a "urinary tract infection" or UTI.

UTI is a general term. Bladder Infections are called Cystitis. Kidney infections are called Pyelonephritis.

Can It Be Transmitted Sexually?

Bacteria can be transmitted during vaginal intercourse if the partner has a urethral infection in their penis. Bacteria can be introduced into the vagina if the penis, sex toy or fingers going into the vagina were just in the anus.  Treatment of sexual partners is often necessary to avoid repeat infections.

Symptoms - Bladder Infection

UTI's are very common in little girls and sexually active women.

Cystitis, bladder infection, symptoms may include:

  • Frequency - you have to urinate very often
  • Urgency - you feel you have to urinate this minute
  • Incomplete urination - you feel as if you haven't entirely emptied your bladder
  • Dysuria - pain while urinating or at the end
  • Hematuria - blood in the urine

In children the symptoms may include diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting; in fact they may be the only symptoms.

Home Remedies

Use preventive measures, see below, to maintain urinary tract health.

  • Drink plenty of fluids - 2-3 glasses of water every hour at first sign of symptoms. Avoid irritants like alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages, tomato or citrus juices as they create a more hospitable environment for bacteria. Drink alkaline fluids such as barley water or tea, cranberry juice, nettle or uva ursa tea.
  • Rest and avoid intercourse.
  • Use a hot water bottle or heating pad on lower abdomen to reduce pain.

Preventing Bladder Infections

  1. Wipe front to back when using the bathroom
  2. Urinate before and after sexual activity, this helps relieve pressure and reduces likelihood of bacteria buildup.
  3. Keep vaginal area clean and dry.
  4. Avoid holding urine for long periods of time.
  5. Wear cotton underwear and pantyhose with cotton crotch panels.
  6. Avoid perfumed soap, sprays, powder, bubble bath and colored toilet paper.
  7. Change tampons and sanitary napkins frequently.
  8. During intercourse be sure the vagina is well lubricated (water-based lubricants may be helpful - avoid petroleum-based products like vaseline, as these clog pores and can make you more susceptible to infection).
  9. When drinking alcoholic beverages, increase your water intake.
  10. Avoid sexual positions that cause irritation or pain.

Click here for more Self-Help Home Remedies for bacterial infections.

Symptoms - Kidney Infection

Pyelonephritis, or a kidney infection may or may have symptoms of a bladder infection. Additionally, you may have:

  • Fever and chills
  • Lower backache
  • Pain from side to groin

In children the symptoms may include diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting; in fact they may be the only symptoms.


Western Medicine

When you come to the clinic with UTI symptoms, the practioner will ask you about your symptoms. She may do some or all of the following tests: (i). temperature, (ii). urinalysis, (iii). urine culture, (iv). pelvic exam, (v). check for tenderness on your back

The practioner may also start you on antibiotics. It is important to correctly take all of the antibiotics. Do not take if you are allergic. The most common antibiotics given are: Gantrisin - a sulfa drug and ampillin - a form of penicillin.

If you are having a lot of discomfort with urinating, the practitioner will give you Pyridium, a pill to be taken three times a day. Pyridium is a urinary tract analgesic, which means it helps to relieve your symptoms until the antibiotics are effective. Pyridium makes your urine reddish-orange.

You will be instructed to do the following:

  1. Take the antibiotic correctly.
  2. Return to the clinic for a urine culture one week after you finish the antibiotics to be sure the infection is gone.
  3. Drink lots of water or liquids (6-8 cups per day). It helps to keep your bladder flushed out so bacteria can't grow.
  4. Wipe your vulva from front to back.
  5. Use cotton or cotton-crotched underpants.
  6. Urinate following intercourse to clean the urethra (the tube that goes from the bladder to the outside) of bacteria.

To prevent future infections - continue #3 through #6 permanently.

If your infection does not clear, we will refer you to a urologist for more tests and follow-up. UTI are important to take care of as they can develop into serious health problems.