For women, maintaining urological health comes with certain challenges, doctors say. With age, women may become more susceptible to urinary problems such as recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, and pelvic organ prolapse. But the good news is that women should not live with their symptoms, as most of these conditions are treated with surgery, medication or lifestyle changes and diet, according to a urologist at Baptist Health South Florida.
(I am watching a video: Dr. Lunan Ji with Baptist Health discusses common urological problems that women experience. Video by Giorgio Carvalho.)
Lunan Ji, MD, specializes in general, reconstructive and female urology and has experience in robotic and minimally invasive surgery. He admits patients for a variety of urological conditions, including urinary dysfunction, incontinence, prostate and urinary disorders, pelvic prolapse, kidney stones and erectile dysfunction.
Dr. Gee says urinary tract infections or UTIs are one of the most common bacterial infections treated in the United States. Worldwide, the number of UTI cases is estimated at 150 million per year. According to the National Kidney Foundation, one in five women in the United States will have at least one UTI in their lifetime. Nearly 20% of these women will have another UTI, and 30% of them will have another. Of this last group, 80 percent will have recurring UTIs. It is estimated that more than 13,000 deaths each year are related to UTIs.
“PPIs are very common infections,” says Dr. G. “They occur when bacteria – usually from the skin or rectum – enter the urethra and infect the urinary tract.” Bladder infection or cystitis is one of the most common types of UTIs, he said. If left untreated, the infection can reach the kidneys and cause more serious problems, such as kidney infection or pyelonephritis, another type of UTI. “Kidney infections are less common than bladder infections, but they are more serious,” says Dr. G.
Women are more likely to develop UTI than men because women have a shorter urethra, which makes it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder, Dr. Ji explains. “To prevent intestinal bacteria from getting into the urinary tract, women should always wipe from front to back after going to the bathroom,” he says. “They also have to clean the genital area every day and before they have sex.
Common risk factors for UTIs
In addition to gender, there are other common risk factors for UTI, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They include:
- Previous UTI
- Sexual activity
- Changes in bacteria that live in the vagina or vaginal flora that can be caused by menopause or the use of spermicides
- Age (older adults and young children are more likely to get a UTI)
- Structural problems in the urinary tract, such as enlarged prostate in men
- Poor hygiene, such as in children who are taught to potty
Another reason for UTIs are urinary catheters, which are used by some hospitalized patients as well as by patients at home who have certain health problems. According to the National Health Safety Network, a urinary catheter remains every day, and a hospitalized patient has a 3-7 percent increased risk of acquiring a catheter-related urinary tract infection or CAUTI.
This, says Dr. G, can lead to complications such as prostatitis, epididymitis and orchitis in men and cystitis, pyelonephritis, gram-negative bacteremia, endocarditis, vertebral osteomyelitis, septic arthritis, endophthalmitis and meningitis in men and women. .
Accurate diagnosis is the key to effective treatment of UTIs
UTIs usually come with obvious symptoms, according to Dr. Gee. “Some of the common symptoms of a urinary tract infection may include burning with urination; unpleasant or cloudy urine; frequent going to the toilet or needing to hurry to the toilet. In some cases, the patient may experience fever and chills, “he said. Meanwhile, symptoms of a kidney infection may include fever, chills, lower back pain or back pain, and nausea or vomiting.
Many women, as soon as they develop symptoms of UTI, reflexively ask their doctor for antibiotics that are effective in treating bacterial infections. However, Dr. Gee says that an accurate diagnosis is essential in the treatment of the urinary tract.
“If you have symptoms, try taking a urine culture before initiating antibiotic therapy, ”he advises, noting that sometimes other diseases, such as sexually transmitted diseases, have UTI-like symptoms. “Before we can determine the best course of treatment, we need to know if your symptoms are caused by an infection or something else.”
Can Cranberry Juice Help Prevent UTI?
Many women drink cranberry juice in hopes of preventing urinary tract infections, but research has shown mixed results. Raw cranberries contain antioxidant proanthocyanidins or PACs, which can prevent bacteria from attaching to the walls of the urinary tract, according to the National Kidney Foundation.
“A lot of research has been done on this, and although there is nothing absolutely convincing, there is enough evidence to suggest that cranberry supplements reduce the risk of urinary tract infections,” says Dr. G. “However, studies with cranberry juice have been less positive.
In one study, researchers found that taking cranberry capsules containing 36 mg of PAC daily reduced the incidence of UTI in young people aged 12-18 with recurrent infections. According to another study, cranberry juice alone is unlikely to have the same effect, as most store-bought cranberry juices do not contain enough PAC to prevent bacterial adhesion.
Minimize the risk of UTIs
Women can reduce their risk of developing UTI by following a few simple steps with their personal hygiene, according to Dr. Gee. “When getting used to a potty, girls should be taught to wipe from front to back,” he advises. Other steps women can take to prevent UTIs include:
- Urination after sexual activity
- Take a shower instead of a bath
- Minimize splashes, sprays or dust in or around the genitals
If you do develop a UTI, Dr. G recommends that you seek treatment as soon as possible. “The most important thing is to know what is causing your symptoms and treat it before it leads to a more serious illness,” he said. “Recurrent urinary tract infections are a real problem for many women, and long-term antibiotic therapy is not always a solution, as it comes with side effects.”