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UTI essentials: Top 5 tips for a healthy bladder

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What does a men’s health specialist know about women’s bladder infections? It turns out, much more than you’d think.

For some years now, I’ve been settled in Germany, working as a urologist with a focus on men’s health. I’ve treated hundreds of men for a variety of bizarre conditions and even wrote a book, Happy Down Below, on the subject. But surprisingly, one in every four patients I see is in fact female. Have these ladies landed here by mistake? No way! Over 90% of these women suffer from the same affliction: bladder infections. In fact, bladder infections and UTI’s are shockingly common, affecting as many as half of all women at some point in their lives. And as many women know, they’re also incredibly painful and, usually, very difficult to shake.

Managing a urinary tract infection

Luckily, from my experience, there are some simple things you can do to rid yourself of these troublesome infections—or even avoid them altogether:

  1. Know the signs: Bladder infections often show up after sex, as intercourse makes it easier for harmful bacteria travel up to the urethra. Prevent things from getting worse by catching the infection early. Keep an eye out for tell-tale signs such as pain during, after, or between using the washroom; peeing more frequently or in lesser amounts; and seeing blood in your urine.
  2. When in doubt, check it out: Unfortunately, knowing the symptoms is not always enough for a diagnosis. While some women use home test kits to detect their bladder infections, you shouldn’t put too much faith in urine dipsticks or test strips, as the results are often misleading. Visit your doctor if you’re unsure what’s ailing you. You’ll put your heart—and your bladder—at ease.
  3. Drink up: If it turns out you do have an infection, getting hydrated is the first place to start. Several studies have shown that simple bladder infections can be effectively treated with an increased intake of liquids. Rather than jumping for the antibiotics, pour yourself a cool glass of water or a nice mug of tea.
  4. Try plant-based cures: If water doesn’t do the trick, it still doesn’t mean you have to resort to the pharmaceutical arsenal. Natural agents such as bearberry, goldenrod, field horsetail extract, or the combination of nasturtium and horseradish root can work wonders—and many are available as juices or pills. Cranberries, on the other hand, are less helpful than we like to think. When consumed regularly and over a long period of time, these sour berries can be effective for preventing bladder infections, but they are unfortunately useless when it comes to curing them.
  5. Know when it’s time to take your medicine: If natural remedies just aren’t working, remember that antibiotic treatment is also an excellent way to recover. Luckily, there are plenty of great options available. Talk to your doctor about the right one for you. Your bladder will be happy and healthy again in no time 
Photo credit: Nicole Mueller

Dr. Oliver Gralla is the author of Happy Down Below, an informative and funny guide to men’s health. An acclaimed urologist and andrologist, he is known as “Dr. Sex” in his native Germany.

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