By OB/GYN Dr. Kimberly Langdon
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) or bladder infections (cystitis) are mostly caused by a bacterium. Rare exceptions to this would be viral or fungus cause for patients hospitalized with catheters.
UTIs are very painful for most women who report an increase in urination frequency, urgency, dribbling, burning or stinging. They may also notice their urine is cloudy, and can in rare cases see blood.
The good news is that UTIs can be easily prevented and treated quickly!
The safest way to treat a UTI is with a prescription oral antibiotic. This treatment ensures that most infections are cleared up within 3-7 days. We recommend VeeTract, a natural and at-home solution for fast, effective relief of mild and recurring urinary tract infections.
Urine is normally sterile as no microbiome lives inside the bladder. Infections for women are caused from bacteria getting pushed up from the skin around the urethra after sexual intercourse or from unsanitary wiping.
Why do my UTI symptoms persist after using antibiotics?
The pain or residual discomfort in the bladder can linger long after the actual bacteria is cleared by the antibiotics. This is because the lining of the bladder is still inflamed and needs time to heal. Inflammation is caused by the body’s immune system releasing white blood cells to kill off the bacteria.
When a bladder infection is severe, biofilms can form that prevent the normal immune response from being effective and in addition the antibiotics from not being successful in penetrating the biofilms. (Biofilms are a conglomeration of bacteria, cells, and sugars that create a ‘surface slime’. They are responsible for treatment failures, especially in women who are immunocompromised).
Pain can be caused either by the bladder wall muscle contracting, which triggers the nerves to fire (A tired bladder that is trying to heal while never getting a chance to rest) or residual pain could be a recurrent or persistent infection.
Like any infection or trauma, the tissue takes time to heal and the nerves take time to settle down. Until that healing is complete, women may continue to experience discomfort.
What happens if antibiotics don’t work for my UTI?
If you have a persistent or recurring infection, you must discuss with your doctor. Make sure to get a urine culture done to show what type of bacteria is present in your urine. This will enable your physician to more accurately prescribe an antibiotic that is appropriate for the type of infection you have.
If your urine culture is clear of bacteria then it would be wise to explore other causes of your symptoms. Bladder stones, bladder cancer and interstitial cystitis are other conditions that can mimic a UTI.
Pro-tips for dealing with UTI pain
Hydrate. Don’t avoid fluids for fear of pain when urinating because that will actually have the opposite effect – drink, drink, drink!
Use Pyridium. This medication has been a lifesaver for women and numbs your bladder as you heal.
Ice pack. Apply this to your suprapubic area for 15 minutes before urinating and it should help with any burning.
Over-the-counter. NSAIDs and acetaminophen can decrease pain in any part of the body. Ditropan can be used for urgency symptoms.
Probiotics. Women with recurrent UTIs often show alterations in their vaginal or urethral flora or microbiome so probiotics (especially Lactobacillus) have been successfully used as a preventative measure recurrent UTIs. One of the major roles of Lactobacilli is their ability to reduce bacterial reservoirs, thus preventing recurrences.
For a list of natural herbs/plants that can inhibit UTIs, See Table 1 from
Terlizzi, M. E., Gribaudo, G., & Maffei, M. E. (2017). UroPathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) Infections: Virulence Factors, Bladder Responses, Antibiotic, and Non-antibiotic Antimicrobial Strategies. Frontiers in microbiology, 8, 1566. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2017.01566
Kimberly Langdon M.D.
Kimberly Langdon is a Doctor of Medicine and graduated from The Ohio State University in 1991. She completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at The Ohio State University Hospitals, Department of OB/GYN. Board-Certified in 1997, she is now retired from clinical practice after a long and successful career. Currently, she is the Founder and Chief Medical Officer of a Medical Device Company that is introducing a patented product to treat vaginal microbial infections without the need for drugs. She is an expert in Vaginal Infections, Menstrual disorders, Menopause, and Contraception.