A urinary tract infection (UTI) is very common, especially for women. Lower urinary tract infections
occur when bacteria enters the normally sterile urethra. For women, this condition is more common because their urethras are much shorter than a man’s, so the bacteria have a shorter distance to travel. Virtually all women will have at least one minor UTI in her life. However, there are a small percentage of women and men who suffer from recurring infections.
A recurrent, or chronic, UTI is a condition in which a single infection lasts longer than two weeks or when a UTI goes away, but returns more than twice in a six month period. A small percentage of the population seems to be more prone to recurrent infections. This could be due to hygiene practices, changes in hormones, an irregularity in the urinary tract, or a weakened immune system. In some cases, it is never explained why the person relapses.
Pregnancy, menopause, and breastfeeding all cause major shifts in a woman’s hormonal balance. This could improve her chances of experiencing infections involving the perennial area. Also, a person with a weakened immune system due to STDs could be a victim of chronic UTI (chlamydia and gonorrhea in particular). Poor hygienic practices could also be a culprit, as eColi can travel from the rectum to the urethra if a person isn’t careful.
There are several options for a person with recurring urinary tract infections. Although not a cure for the ailment, cranberry juice does promote good urinary tract health and serves as a preventative (cranberry extract pills work even better). A doctor may also want to take X-rays to make sure there isn’t a physical abnormality in the urinary tract or an obstruction, such as kidney stones. If a woman is developing an infection after intercourse, a probiotic may be prescribed for long-term use.
It is best that a person seek help from a urologist if they are suffering from recurring urinary tract infections. A general practitioner is fine for an isolated infection but if it is returning regularly or not responding to antibiotics, then a specialist is needed. There are ways to solve the problem, but it may take a urologist’s knowledge to find what the problem is.