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Urinary Tract Infections

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Advice about Health > Urinary Tract Infections


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UTI during pregnancy

Jan 2009

Hello! I have a friend who is about 12 weeks pregnant and is struggling with chronic UTIs. Before she got pregnant, she was on a prophylactic dose of antibiotics to prevent UTIs because she gets them so easily. Now that she is pregnant, she has already gotten a UTI. When she went to the doctor, they were concerned that she has become antibiotic resistant and needed a higher dose to treat the infection. They said it should be fine for the baby, but she is not so sure. She doesn't want to continue taking high doses of meds, but if she does not, she could get a dangerous kidney infection. Has anyone had a similar experience, either with UTIs during pregnancy or needing to take high doses of antibiotics while pregnant? Thanks! Anon


This is advice both for the 5 year old and the pregnant woman experiencing UTI's. I had a long history of chronic UTI's starting at age 2, and was well familiar with the UTI, antibiotics, yeast, UTI, (then menses when that started) and UTI again, cycle. What finally broke it for me was dandelion root. The easiest way to take it for a child or a busy person is tincture in a bit of hot water (that evaporates the alcohol in the tincture), for the adult a decoction (1 tsp. herb to cup water simmered for 20 minutes) is also useful (too odd tasting for a child). It disinfects the tract. The UTI's come from not fully voiding so guiding the child to push at the end of the pee or wait a minute and try some more might help. I found in pregnancy that leaning forward at the end of the pee helped. Chickweed is a very mild tasting tea that is a great way to keep them from re-occuring, dandelion best for when you have one, but the great thing is that they are both tonic herbs meaning no toxic dose, safe for child and pregnant woman. Feel free to contact me if you want book recomendations. You can buy these herbs at Lhasa Karnac, Whole Foods, etc. Naomi
Hi, I responded to another posting about UTIs, where I mentioned that I experienced a lot of UTIs throughout my life. I was especially nervous about getting one during pregnancy, so I was very careful after having sex (peed before and after, and used non-allergenic/fragrance-free soap to clean after as well). I also cut out any lubricant, because that also can cause UTIs for someone who is susceptible. In addition, I really upped the amount of cranberry supplement that I was taking and avoided sugar. Good luck, and try and stay off the antibiotics! Sarah
Good advice from a lot of folks, but I've gotta add my own, and I've had UTI's chronically for most of my 47 years of life:

1. Don't take any herbal supplements until you consult a certified herbal M.D. (like Chinese Medicine Doctor). Many are not safe during pregnancy.

2. UTI's are not always caused by not emptying the bladder completely -- though some are. In the case that this might be problem, it is likely caused by scar tissue at the point where the urethra meets the bladder and it is very hard to empty the bladder if this is the case. Advice already given, rock forward and push HARD to expel all the urine you can.

3. Wash yourself every single time you defecate, no matter whether you wipe up, down or sideways. Residual fecal matter is a likelihood no matter how you wipe.

4. Some of us (like me) are so long-waisted that we cannot wipe from behind like we're supposed to. See #3.

5. Drink pure, unsweetened cranberry juice, or take cranberry capsules every single day. It helps.

6. Drink tons and tons of water, and be sure to pee as soon as you feel the need. This is very important; urine stagnates and the longer you hold it, the more likely it is to harbor bacteria. Yes, it's sterile until it's expelled... unless you hold it too long AND you already have some bacteria in your bladder, in which case your urine is NOT sterile any longer. the longer you hold this bacterial urine, the more likely you are to have a true UTI, and not just urethral irritation ...

7. Which you will have if you use scented soaps, commercial lubricants, etcetera. Anything that goes anywhere near your urethra needs to be a) clean and b) unscented.

8. Probiotics. These helps keep your entire system in balance. The body is holistic; if your gut is in balance, the rest of your body is going to be more in balance as well.

9. Stay away from sugars, refined wheat and other refined starches. All these do is develop sugars and yeast. Yeast infections (even low grade ones) can cause urinary tract problems.

10. Sex... well, I have a host of info about that, but will refrain from specifics here. If you want more, email me and I'll get into it.

Need any additional advice? Have any questions? Feel free to email me. I'm a pro on this particular matter. Good luck. I had a UTI free pregnancy. -- h.


Recurrent UTIa and trying to get pregnant

Oct 2007

Okay. I moved to the Bay Area from the East Coast about a year and a half ago, and this may sound crazy, but my system really didn't like the cross-country move. Suddenly I am lactose intolerant, have hayfever, can't tolerate mayonnaise (and you kookypantses put it on EVERYTHING!).

Worst of all is the recurrent UTIs (bladder infections) I've been getting since my move. I've had my bf checked to see if he is passing them back to me, but he's fine. I changed all my underwear, use hyperallegenic detergent, take cranberry capsules, drink a ton of water, and have ''clean'' sex habits (if you catch my drift), but they kept coming back until my doctor put me on perma-antibiotics. Now I take a Septra every time I have sex in the week after my period (when I tend to get them, because of my hormone levels according to my doctor).

So far, so good: that seems to be keeping the UTI-fairy away.

But now I'm trying to get pregnant, and the doctor and my pharmacist have both said a recurrent UTI could make it so my body won't hold a pregnancy. I'm not sure, but I think I had a ''chemical pregnancy'' (early miscarriage) last month. (I'm charting. I'm also hyper. I've only been trying a few months.)

Anywho, so my question is twofold: Any of you guys dealt with weirdly recurrent UTIs? What was the cause, what made them go away?

And have you had to deal with them while trying to get pregnant or -- eugh! -- during pregnancy? Don't want to feel the burn!


I have suffered UTIs in the past, and they suck! Usually, I found that I was under a lot of stress, my body Ph seemed to be acidic.. More rest and taking probiotics from health food stores - and in some yogurts helped me. I cannot comment about the trying to get prego aspect of your post. Good luck! hate UTIs too
You'll get better responses about UTIs from other people, but as far as general issues with fertility go, I highly recommend acupuncture. Getting the needles in your skin, but also the herbal concoctions acupuncturists can offer. I've seen a lot of people's fertility signs improve immensely from Chinese medicine, including my own. I wouldn't be surprised if an acupuncturist could help deal with the UTIs and get you off of the antibiotics too, which I assume is part of where they'd start. --pregnant CA kookypants
Gynecologists know next to nothing about the urinary tract. Go to a urologist and read up on Interstitial Cystitis. Many women with IC are put on lots of antibiotics for a long time before being properly diagnosed. I was one of them. Fortunately, there are drugs to help with the pain and very good dietary changes you can make (avoiding acidic food, ie cranberry juice, coffee, alcohol) to help control symptoms. Again, you may not have IC, but it's worth looking into. UCSF has an excellent Urology department. Marianna
Oh I do so feel your pain. I've had to battle UTI's since I was about 5 years old -- 40 years ago! There are times in my life when they are more recurrent than others. In particular, around my period, having too much sex (is that possible?), going through stress... and every single time I go away on vacation. It's always worse the farther I go from home.

Anyhow, it seeks like moving has really stressed your system and obviously you need to get back in balance. Continue with the cranberry capsules, and also try the following: 100% pomegranite juice. It's amazing stuff, better than cranberry for UTI's. Odwalla sells it, calling it PomeGrand. It's expensive, but Mid- East markets also sell it much cheaper.

Get some very good probiotics and take them religiously. Get advice from the folks at Elephant Pharm about which probiotic may be best for you.

Fish oils - Omega 3's. Take daily.

My last bit of advice is risky, but it works for me. During the first 2 -3 days of a ''bout'', I take a lot of pyridium (avail. over the counter) and try to combat the infection myself. I've developed severe allergies to sulfa meds (like Septra) which are the drug of choice for UTI's and now only Ciprofloxacin works, and I do not like taking it at all. If I take care of myself diligently, while taking pyridium to combat the pain, I can usually flush out the infection w/o antibiotics. This may not be wise for you, but it works for me. I usually end up on Cipro only twice a year now, and I used to have to take prophylacticly. As for the pregnancy issue, I did get UTI's during my pregnancy, but refused antibiotics and managed the UTI's on my own. It was painful and difficult, but I managed it. I have never heard that UTI's can cause spontaneous abortion, but perhaps that's so. I'd be more concerned about the antibiotics effects more so than the UTI's. Anon


Poor you. I've been dealing with UTI's for 40 years now, starting when I was 5. There is one newish blessing for those of us with this affliction: Pyridium, now sold over the counter. This marvelous medication numbs the bladder and urethra, while alos dying the urine bright orange and gives me respite enough to try to combat the infections on my own. Here's what I do:

100% Pomegranite juice -- Odwalla has a pure juice at $10.00 quart. Yikes! Middle East markets sell it for around $5.00 quart. Pom juice is supposedly better than 100% cranberry and I have had wonderful results.

Cranberry caps: You're already doing this, so continue.

Avoid all spicy foods, oily foods, any food with anything that could irritate any mucous lining. Bland, bland, bland... it works.

Probiotics: go to Elephant Pharmacy and ask for advice on the best you can buy and then use it religiously.

For the record, I get UTI's within 2 days of arriving at any vacation destination, and the further I am from home (like Europe or Asia) the worse they are. At this point, I can travel only as far as Hawaii and not suffer a UTI. I know it's weird, but it's true. I take pyridium with me everywhere, and tons of it when I travel as you never know when/where you might need it.

When I have an bout, I double my proactive measures and start with the pyridium. I can usually knock them out within 2 - 3 days. Since I'm now deathly allergic to sulfa meds (like Septra), the best antibiotic I can use is Cipro, which I hate.

When I was pregnant, I refused all antibiotics and self-treated for at least 4 days until I sought medical attention. I am NOT RECOMMENDING THIS. I am only telling you that I've had success aggressively treating my UTI's naturally. And I only do this using pyridium b/c I can at least function a tiny bit with this level of pain management.

AS for pregancy issues, I've never heard that UTI's prohibited successful pregnancy and I've never ever had a problem with that and personally think it's B.S. I think that the antibiotics you've been taking are far more likely causing your system to reject a pregnancy. But that's just me and my subjective opinion and experience. Anon


I, like you had lots of UTI. Always ended up taking antibiotics for it then it would go away. They stopped when i realized i was allergic to wheat/gluten. if i stray and eat some consistantly for a week i have a UTI. So now i don't. My son is 2 years olds and i had no UTI or no issues realted to that when i was pregnant. It seems to me you should try to figure out why you have them before you get pregnant. most of the time there is an explanation and you can solve the problem. Tha way you won't have to deal with a difficult pregnancy. good luck mag

Recurrent UTI treatment

March 2004

hi - Has anyone found any effective treatment for recurrent urinary tract infections other than antibiotics? I know about preventing them through practicing good hygiene, peeing before and after sex, and using lube. I'm looking for things that work in treating them aside from drinking tons of water, avoiding caffeine, and drinking cranberry juice. Over the last year and a half, I've had probably about 8 UTIs, and while I've practiced all the above (more or less), I'd like to know if there's anything else out there that works. Thanks
anon


Hi! I know exactly what you are going through. I used to have this all the time and saw a specialist finally. After doing all the routines you described, what finally made the difference was taking a low dose antibiotic after having sex. I can't remember what it was anymore but I think it might have been some type of pennicilin and I did't get them anymore. One of the things that actually had been suggested to me was that some partners are more likely to contribute to UTIs because of the friction or fit and my then boyfriend and I broke up and now with my husband its not a problem so I stopped taking the antibiotic. Not recommending breaking up though, just an interesting aside. I know how horrible they are and am sure any doc can recommend the right antibiotic.

Good Luck! Been there, thankfully over that


In addition to what you are doing: parsley, tonic water and there are cranberry pills you can buy at whole foods instead of having to drink a lot of juice if you prefer. I went to Dr. Weil's site and he also suggested cotton underwear, no pantyhose (unless crotch is cut out or is cotton), using mild detergents and be sure to urinate frequently when you have the urge.Drink the right fluids P Frequent fluid intake, especially of plain water, increases urination, which may prevent irritation to the bladder. It is also best to avoid alcohol and coffee. Estrogen vaginal cream for post-menopausal women P Post-menopausal women have lower levels of estrogen. Some research suggests that estrogen may help increase the number of beneficial bacteria that help fight infections. Good luck. anon
Years ago I used a very small dose of septra after intercourse, as preventative measure. But then I stopped using a diaphragm and switched to a cervical cap and was for the most part UTI free. Also, I think Cranactin (available at Whole Foods) is a good alternative to cranberry juice. Good luck.
Used to have UTIs all the time.
Have you tried taking cranberry extract tablets? If I think we may be having sex I take a tablet and then after we have sex I take a tablet. I keep the bottle in the bathroom because of this. Also have you suggested to your partner that he wash up also? I have had horrid UTI problems in the past. I've managed to keep it down to about 2 a year. Good luck!
D-mannose, a simple sugar, is reccommended by Dr. Jonathan V. Wright for chronic UTIs. It is not available in stores but you can call his Tahoma Clinic (Washington State) or check the web. Nori
Hi -- well, my daughter has had this problem. And you've noted most of the treatments. There are a couple of others, however: There are cranberry ''pills'' if you can't stand cranberry juice (also make sure you're not drinking super sweatened cranberry juice -- counterproductive); she was told to stop drinking *all* carbonated drinks and though difficult for a young adult, this helped a lot; no baths; only all cotton underwear. Also, there are some herbal treatments and acupunture treatments you might try but you'd need to speak to someone else about these. In general, we found that when she was doing ALL of the recommended things, she could keep infections at bay -- but honestly, it is tough. Sometimes, a low dose of antibiotics seemed so much easier. Good luck! Sabrina
I find that Uva Ursi helps me to treat UTI infections. It is available in tablet form or as a tincture. I prefer the tincture as it seems more effective. Unfortunately you will need to continue drinking lots of water. Vanessa
Hi - I used to have LOTS of UTIs until I figured out that I was extremely sensitive to lubricant. Once I stopped using lubricant I never had another UTI again. I would definitely see if that's your situation - sounds exactly like what I went through... Good Luck!
I have found that if I feel one coming on, I dose with dried cranberry caplets, and it really works for me. I used to get them all of the time and this seems to help ward them off. sally
What's your birth control method? When I was using a diaphragm, I also had several UTIs per year. But when we stared using other methods, the UTIs went away. been there
I know that you asked about non-antibiotic treatment of UTIs but I thought I would share my story in case it is helpful. In my twenties I had UTIs many times a year for years also, treated with Sulfa and other antibiotic drugs without success as well as through use of various holistic methods (sugar-free cranberry juice etc.). Finally I went to my husband's urologist and he told me that the infection had gone into the neck of the bladder (where it bends a little) and had been driven by inadequate antibiotic treatment below the surface skin layers into a deeper level where conventional drug therapy would not eradicate it. He put me on a drug called Keflex for a long time (at least 6 weeks I think), and that was it! No More UTIs! I may have had one since in the last 20 years but if so I don't remember it.

Another thing to check is whether you are being treated for the wrong infection. Have you been tested for Chlamydia and other infections beyond the commonplace? If your doctors are not testing you to see exactly what you have and are just treating you by rote with sulfa drugs (e.g., Bactrim) which do not work for the infection you have, then that would be another reason the UTIs recurred. Good luck and best wishes.

A former sufferer of UTIs


I recommend you pick up a copy of ''You Don't Have to Live With Cystitis'' by Larrain Gillespie. This book is the best one out there for helping figure out why you are getting recurrent bladder infections and how to treat them. Usually people assume it is related to using a diaphragm and things like that. She found sometimes it is related to things you wouldn't expect were connected - like back injuries. Her treatment advice goes beyond cranberry juice as well. I also think you should be evaluated for interstitial cystitis which is a chronic bladder disease.

A urologist would be your best bet, personally I have had better luck with female urologists. I don't have a local recommendation because I have found I can manage my bladder problems with acupuncture. There is also a homeopathic I like made by BHI called Uri-Control or Bladder (I think they are in the process of changing the name). Elephant Pharmacy in N. Berkeley carries it. Good luck!


Postpartum Bladder ''Inflamation''

June 2003

I had my baby 7 months ago, and for about a month now I've had what feels like a mild bladder infection (feels like I have to pee all of the time, my bladder feels very tender), but there is no active infection. I just went to see a urologist, who said that it most likely is an inflamation caused by irritation of the rear vaginal wall during intercourse (over a month ago!). Has anyone heard of this and/or experienced it? Did it go away? Did anything help? How did you avoid it happening again? Pre-baby I did get a non-infection bladder infection once but it went away fairly quickly. And, while sex while nursing has been painful, I'd still rather not swear off it forever for fear of reigniting a (pretty uncomfortable) bladder inflamation. Any advice? anon


You have probably already thought of this, but I thought I would mention it just in case. If you are using a diaphragm and spermicide as a method of birth control, it could be causing or exacerbating the problem you are having. Diaphragms, even when properly fitted, can pinch the neck of the bladder and cause inflammation and pain--even infections. Hope this helps. Elizabeth
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