UTIs and Yeast Infections Decoded
Magnificent as they are, our lady parts can sometimes give us trouble. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and Yeast infections are two of the most common issues in our nether regions. We’ve all either heard of them or had them ourselves, but I find that many of us don’t actually know what the infections are, or how to best treat them. I’m here to clarify the details of the infections, and give you some healthy ways to treat them!
What’s a UTI?
A Urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection located in the urinary system, namely the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra. Most often the infection hangs out in the urethra or bladder, and the infection gets much more serious when it heads to your kidneys. Infection can be caused from a number of bacterial invasions – most often through sex, or from gut bacteria leftover on your booty traveling to the urethral opening. Common symptoms are a painful and constant need to pee, a burning feeling when you do pee, cloudy or pink urine, and lower back / pelvic aches. Not fun.
UTIs can affect men, but they’re far less common than in women. Women are more prone to UTIs because there’s less distance between our urethra and bladder, making our urinary system more prone to bacterial invasion. I see this as yet another example of a woman’s built in capacity for strength. Woo!
How to treat it:
To lower your chances of getting a UTI in the first place – be sure to wash your butt and your vagina with water (not a harsh soap!) when you shower. Heed the advice I’m sure you’ve gotten at some point to pee after sex. Post-sex pee washes any bacteria that may have made its way into your body before it has time to travel further up into your system.
UTIs are oftentimes treated with antibiotics, but as you’re probably hip to by now, antibiotics can disrupt our gut microbiome and lead to impaired immunity and digestion. Instead of going straight to the synthetic stuff, try these less invasive remedies:
- Drink lots and lots of water – this will help to flush your urinary system of the bacteria.
- Steer clear of liquids that inflame your bladder – coffee, sugar, and sweet citrus fruit like orange are common urinary system inflaming culprits.
- Cranberry juice – this is the classic UTI remedy. Cranberries have acidic compounds that make it more difficult for bacteria to stick to the lining of the urethra or bladder, helping wash the infection away more quickly. Get sugar-free organic cranberry juice and drink about 3 glasses a day during times of urinary infection.
- Drink Dandelion Tea (http://www.traditionalmedicinals.com/products/dandelion-leaf-root/)– it’s a gentle diuretic that’ll support your kidney’s detoxification, as well as minimize inflammation in the bladder. Bonus – it promotes healthy digestion and is filled with antioxidants. Drink up to 3 hearty cups a day.
- Keep your kidneys in top shape with adaptogenic herbs like Tulsi tea, Reishi, and Ashwagandha. Minimize kidney fatigue by getting good rest, avoiding unnecessary stress, and eating a balanced diet. Strong kidneys can make a UTI less painful, and allow your body to fight it off more quickly, if you do fall prey to one.
What’s a vaginal yeast infection?
Simply put, a vaginal yeast infection is fungal inflammation of the vaginal tissues. Itchiness, burning, and excessive discharge are telltale signs that you’ve got a yeast infection. It’s caused by a fungus called candida, which is able to grow due to a disruption in the normally acidic environment of the vagina. The infection can be brought on by anything that disrupts the body’s pH balance, including birth control changes, intense and stressful sex, unhealthy eating, and regular antibiotic use. At least half of all women will get one in their lifetime, so you’re very much not alone!
How to treat it:
To protect yourself from a yeast infection, avoid excessive use of antibiotics and steer clear of refined sugar – both can lead to decreased vaginal acidity and create an environment conducive to fungal growth. Wearing undies made from natural fabric is also helpful for letting your lady parts breathe. If a yeast infection rears it’s head, try these remedies:
- Eat well! Focus on whole grains and veggie and chicken broths, and avoid alcohol and sweets. Have organic yogurt at least one a day to replenish the body with beneficial bacteria. The overall goal here is to rebalance the body’s natural pH balance.
- Tea Tree Oil Suppositories – if you’ve never used a suppository, it’s kind of like putting a tampon in. Tea Tree Oil has potent cleansing properties that’ll help get rid of the infection gently but effectively.
- DIY a garlic suppository – cover a peeled clove of garlic with thin gauze (like a nut milk bag) and insert into the vaginal cavity. You can put a bit of organic oil on the gauze to ease entry. Replace this every 3 hours or so!
Keep in mind that I’m not a doctor, and I’m not intending to treat your chronic medical issues. If you’re experiencing severe pain or recurrent UTIs or yeast infections, consult your medical doctor please!
Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, Rosemary Gladstar