What is a UTI?

June 4, 2018
UTI, urinary tract infection, naturopathic doctor toronto, toronto naturopath

If you’re not one of the 50% of women who has ever experienced a urinary tract infection, you get a high five! But if you are, this article is for you!

What is a UTI?

UTIs are bacterial infections of the urinary tract (not the vaginal tract, but I often include it as one because it’s still within the region). It can be classified in a variety of ways, depending on where the infection is presenting. For example, if it’s presenting in the bladder, it’s known as cystitis. 

What are symptoms of a UTI?

Symptoms of a UTI include:

  • painful urination

  • burning urination

  • urinary incontinence

  • urinary urgency

  • fever

  • pain in the lower abdominal area (around the pelvic bone)

  • pain in the ribs

Sometimes, a UTI may present without any symptoms at all. 

A simple dipstick test can indicate if white blood cells or nitrites are high, or you can get a more comprehensives urinalysis to determine if you do have a UTI.

How does a UTI happen? How does a UTI recur?

UTIs occur when a bacteria, normally present in the gastrointestinal tract, is exposed to the the urethra and urinary system. The pathogen will spread from the rectum to the vagina, and then make its way up the urinary tract. 

If you’ve experienced a UTI in the past, then you may be familiar with their recurrence. In fact 2-4% of women will frequently experience a UTI. UTI recurrence is especially prominent after treatment with antibiotics. 

Which bacteria causes UTIs?

The most common culprit is E.coli. However, other pathogenic bacteria include: Staphylococcus saprophyticus, Klebsiella, Proteus, Enterobacter spp, and Enterococci. 

What are the risk factors of a UTI?

  • Certain types of contraception like diaphragms and spermicides

  • Frequency of sex

  • New sexual partners

  • Recent use of systemic antibiotics

  • Estrogen deficiency

How to treat a UTI

Establishing a Healthy Microbiome

Because the primary treatment for UTIs are systemic antibiotics, it’s important to repopulate the gut, vagina, and urinary tract. Look for probiotics rich in Lactobacillus. 

Just as E. coli makes its way from the rectum to the urinary tract, probiotics will do the same. 

Acupuncture for UTI

Acupuncture may not be the first treatment you think of when you have a UTI, but can help – especially for chronic infections.

Herbs for UTI

If you asked anyone what the most common natural remedy for UTIs is, they’ll likely say cranberry. And they’re right! Cranberry is an herb that acts as an anti-adhesive, preventing the E. coli sticking on the tissue.

Other actions of herbs to look for are antimicrobials, and immunostimulants. 

Diet for UTI

Unfortunately, there isn’t any evidence in one diet being more effective than another. However, a few things to keep in mind: fermented dairy products could add beneficial probiotics to the body. In addition, because many people are aware that cranberry can be effective in treating UTIs, they should be mindful of the type of juice they are drinking, and the amount of sugar in juice (consider pure and unsweetened).

Hygiene Practices

  • Wiping front to back

  • Urinating after sex

  • Showering after sex

  • Wearing breathable underwear, avoiding thongs

  • Switching up contraceptive options

  • Stay hydrated throughout the day

Final Thoughts

The most important message here, is that you don’t need to live or suffer with chronic UTIs. Working with a Naturopathic Doctor can help you achieve this goal through simple changes and focused support. 


Your Endometriosis Health Team

endometriosis health team, toronto naturopathic doctor, naturopath toronto

If you are living with endometriosis, you’re likely aware that it’s a complex condition that can benefit from a health team (#endometriosisdreamteam). Because I believe in integrative medicine and the value of different wisdom and experiences, I wanted to share a few of health practitioners (aside from your Ob/Gyn) that can help you alleviate pain and improve your quality of life!


Who should be on your team

Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist

Pelvic floor physiotherapy is more than just kegels! Within the pelvic region, endometriosis can cause inflammation, scar tissue, adhesions, pain and muscle tightness. Muscle tightness may occur when women are curled up in fetal position or because of anticipation of painful sex. Pelvic floor physiotherapists are able to assess the pelvic floor muscles and release any trigger points as well as help release scar tissue. 

Moreover, the alignment of pelvic organs and ligaments may be distorted due to pain or other factors, and pelvic floor physios are able to help bring back a healthy alignment to the pelvic region. 

When the body has a pelvic floor dysfuntion, it may lead to the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the back, hips, and sacroiliac joint
  • difficulty urinating, increases urination, burning or pain with urination
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • painful bowel movements and faecal incontinence
  • painful sex
  • inability to tolerate a speculum during a gynaecological exam
  • pain with wearing tampons and menstrual cups

Massage Therapist

Massage therapy is one of those gentle, yet effective treatments that can have big results. Abdominal massage is designed to stimulate and increase the flow of blood, lymph and qi to everything in the pelvic region (such as organs, ligaments and tissues). Moreover, some treatments can gently shift the uterus and other organs into a healthier alignment – which may lead to the reduction of uterine spasms and adhesions. 

Sex Therapist 

Sexual therapy can aid people who are experiencing sexual difficulties, with the goal of promoting physical intimacy. Many women with endometriosis suffer from sexual dysfunction, specifically when it comes to deep penetrative sex (likely due to the area inhabited by endometrial lesions). Down the line, this may lead to negative effects on relationships, mental and emotional well-being, a decrease in quality of life. 

Because fear and anticipation of pain can inhibit the sexual response (and affect desire and lubrication), a sex therapist may suggest and facilitate communication between partners, help with alternative sexual practices, and provide relaxation techniques.  

Naturopathic Doctor

I might be biased, but Naturopathic Doctors bring a lot to the table! When I work with my endometriosis clients, I like taking a look at the modifiable causes when it comes to guiding treatments. Specifically I take a look at inflammation and estrogen and work on those to help decrease pain within the body. 

Therefore treatments include acupuncture (yes, NDs can perform acupuncture!), nutritional support, lifestyle changes, and smart supplementation. For instance, turmeric can be quite helpful for pain experienced with endometriosis. But before you make yourself a golden milk latte, it’s important to remember dose and duration of treatment is necessary to elicit the desired effects. Lastly additional testing to assess stress and cortisol levels, as well as estrogen detoxification, can be quite useful in helping to guide treatment plans.  

Final Thoughts

It’s obvious that each member of this endometriosis dream team provides something unique in the treatment of this condition. And to be honest, you don’t need to have endometriosis to have a well-rounded group of health practitioners. Most of us have a GP, Optometrist, Dentist – which help us take care of physical components of our body. But don’t underestimate the value of taking care of your emotional and mental states as well!