Recurrent UTIs? This Is Probably the Reason, According to Latest Research

Recurrent UTIs? This Is Probably the Reason, According to Latest Research

Written by TYE Medical on Feb 2nd 2023

Not again! The burning, pressure, and pain can only mean one thing–another UTI (or bladder infection). For 25-30% of women, the infection returns within six months and often sooner. You’ll probably recognize these other symptoms too, like cloudy, strong-smelling, or blood-streaked urine.

UTIs develop when bacteria invade your urinary tract and incite an infection that makes peeing a frequent and painful occurrence. A simple antibiotic will knock this out of your system, or so we’ve long assumed.

But a recent study from the Washington School of Medicine suggests that your gut bacteria could be the source of ongoing infections. In short, you can blame your small intestines for recurrent UTIs.

Here’s a breakdown of the research findings and what that means for your urinary health.

The Bladder–Gut Link

outline of a human torso with gut and bladder glowing through

Gut (intestinal) health and the gut “microbiome” has the attention of many researchers. They continue to discover wide-reaching the impact of gut health. “Gut” is the medical world’s term for describing your small intestines.

Most of the time, there is a war raging in your small intestines as “bad” or unhealthy bacteria try to overpower and outgrow the “good” or healthy bacteria that aids digestion. Some “bad” bacteria is normal, but if it outgrows the good bacteria, the imbalance can impact your health. For more information on gut health, check out our article, How Gut Health Dramatically Impacts Your Life (and Tips for Keeping It Balanced).

E-coli is one of the bad bacteria living in your gut that often overpowers and overruns your system. When this is the case, it’s easy for the bacteria to migrate from the rectum to the vagina. From there, it’s a short trip up the urethra tube to your bladder. If it’s not flushed out of your urinary tract with regular urination, it settles in and causes infection.

What Research Says About Recurrent UTIs

orange bacteria floating through a blue gut tunnel

The study from the Washington School of Medicine suggests that an imbalanced gut is the source of recurrent UTIs. Sure, almost all women occasionally have a stray bacteria that causes an infection. But if your gut is imbalanced, this will happen more often and maybe even frequently.

You might be thinking, “And so what? Just get an antibiotic and be done.” Antibiotics pose a two-fold problem. They only kill UTI-causing bacteria in your bladder, not your gut. UTI-causing strains of bacteria in your gut survive, especially if you’re gut is imbalanced

So, if you have a large growth of bad bacteria, you’re likely to have another infection again soon, because you haven’t addressed the source. Your gut is still producing too many UTI-causing bacteria.

The other problem is that antibiotics also kill off the good and bad gut bacteria. This means the remaining bad guys are likely to take over again without enough healthy bacteria to stop them. (Yes, it really is like a war.) You end up killing your only defense. This is why wise doctors tell their patients to take a probiotic supplement during and after antibiotic treatment. Probiotic supplements contain good (“pro”) bacteria that restore your gut health.

The Real Reason You Have Recurrent UTIs

scientist holding a red petri dish with white bacteria growing

Yes, having too many unhealthy bacteria in your small intestines is the direct cause of repeated bladder infections. But the trigger, the reason for the overgrowth of bad guys is a lack of good, healthy bacteria.

In the study, the women who suffered from recurrent urinary tract infections had chronically fewer healthy bacteria in their guts. Women who only developed occasional UTIs had higher levels of good bacteria in their small intestines. These white-hat bacteria keep the invaders in check, reducing the odds of a bad bacteria migrating to the bladder.

The researchers from this study consider its key findings to be that antibiotics aren’t effective treatment for recurrent UTIs. And while that is relevant and important information. It brings up other questions for those dealing with frequent bladder infections. Like…

How Do You Stop Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections?

person clutching their lower abdomen as they open the toilet lid

If you’ve been dealing with this problem, then you know antibiotics aren’t the answer. And now you understand that they’re making your problem worse. If a gut imbalance is the underlying cause, then that’s what you must treat.

  1. Feed your good bacteria. They thrive on prebiotics, which are special plant fibers that fertilize your good gut bacteria and stimulate growth. Try reducing your meat intake and eat a more plant-based diet with plenty of produce and grains. Variety is key, because you’re feeding a variety of bacteria.
  2. Second, avoid high-sugar and high-fat foods. It’s like sending in special forces to wipe your good guys. It’s better to choose whole foods rather than processed foods. Doing so will make your gut happy.
  3. Reduce stress. Yes, even your gut is affected. Negative emotions disrupt your gut microbiome. We all experience moments of stress on a daily basis. But chronic stress that rarely lets up, that’s a surefire way to demolish your gut health. Reducing that negativity can allow your healthy bacteria to flourish again.

Stress reduction and a plant-based diet are two major steps toward restoring

Key Takeaways

bottle of prescription pills open on a Rx sheet

Research is revealing what many women have long known: antibiotics aren’t solving their recurrent UTI problem. In fact, it’s making the issue worse. And while you do need to clear as much of the infection as possible, the real cure is to address an imbalance in your gut microbiome.

If you suffer from recurrent UTIs, take a daily, powerful probiotic supplement. Adjust your diet to each more whole grain and produce. And just as importantly, do what you can to cut stressors from your life. This will improve your overall health, not just your urinary health.

TYE Medical offers premium incontinence products for all stages of incontinence. Browse our online store and get free and discreet shipping on all orders.

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