The 20 Year Battle With UTI’s … Finally Won
So — naturally — I was a bit sheepish when I called my parents to ask them what it was. I remember my mom saying (… loudly),
“there’s only two ways to get a bladder infection — by having sex or by having a baby…”
I was MORTIFIED. OMG.
(And for the record, my mom’s saying WASN’T TRUE, but more on this later…)
Fast-forward to the waiting room of the GYN office with my dad and mom sitting next to me. The shame was baking through my body like hot tar.
I pee’d into the cup the blood-stained urine and I was given the antibiotic.
That was in about 1988. And 20 years later … I would still feel that shame every single time another infection came on.
It turns out that I became what some medical professionals refer to as a person with “chronic UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections)” — since the moment my mother told me there are only two ways to get them … I have never stopped feeling ashamed. After intercourse it was inevitable — I would always get one.
I went to doctor after doctor — they told me to drink a glass of water before sex, drink one after sex. They told me to urinate before sex, after sex. They told me to drink cranberry juice, eat cranberry pills, don’t take cranberry juice if it has sugar, eat real cranberries … If they would have told me to stand on my head before or after sex, I would have done it…
ANYTHING to stop the bladder infections from coming.
One of my most recent GYN doctors gave me a newly proven intervention: 100 milligrams of an antibiotic that I would take after EVERY intercourse session. Basically, this meant that I was taking 100 mg of antibiotics several times a week. My body isn’t used to taking antibiotics, but I was desperate — I needed these UTI’s to stop. It was really starting to get to me.
For years, I fought the battle — take the antibiotic and then suffer through the ensuing yeast infection that would follow the antibiotic. This tug-of-war continued — from the ages of 18 to 40 and pretty soon, having sex was synonymous with all things painful… not because of the act of sex, but because of the pain of the bladder infection that would follow.
About 3 years ago, when I met my husband, he mentioned that he would ask our family friend — Frank Butler, who is a certified in acupuncture, herbs and Oriental body work — for help. To this day, I am so eternally grateful to both of them — even at the age of 40 I was too ashamed to talk about this…
Frank told me that so many women feel the same way. He said that many women had come to him for this same issue and that it was nothing to be ashamed of. He said it made perfect sense according to Chinese medicine. As he spoke of the Chinese traditions, I felt the years of stress and shame and fear and pain finally go away. I cried in his office as he told me he could help me.
I had seriously felt as if I were the only woman in the world with this problem … and I had begun to think it would never, ever end.
Frank helped me understand that by taking so many antibiotics I had compromised my immune system and my body’s natural ability to fight off these infections. So he was going to help me train my immune system to fight back. I LOVED that idea!!
I get to be empowered to fight these %*^##@$@)!! UTI’s!
After a series of about 6 months of (painless!!) acupuncture sessions and Chinese herbs (make sure you find yourself a ROCKSTAR, highly trained acupuncturist if you are going to go this route — Frank recommends visiting http://www.nccaom.org/ to find someone who is qualified) my urinary tract infections finally began to subside.
When they were finally gone I eventually told my best friends about the experience — and guess what?
THEY WERE STRUGGLING TOO!
So — for all of us who suffer in silence with these issues, here are a few tips from the trenches. Please note that in every case, I went to a licensed medical professional who screened me to be sure I didn’t have something ELSE going on (like an infection or STD or kidney issue). There are actually a few reasons a person can get a urinary tract infection — my mom was not exactly right on the baby vs. sex thing.
Here are other tricks that help to keep the UTI’s away:
1. Keep your body filled with liquids. When you work all day and forget to hydrate with water, your body knows. Therefore, it is imperative to stay hydrated. The proper color of fully hydrated urine is the color of light lemonade — if it is dark yellow or yellow orange, it means you are not getting enough water.
2. Before sex, make sure you are clean and that your partner is clean. A quick rinse off in the bathroom with soapy water will do the trick!
3. After sex, make sure you get to the bathroom and pee for a good 20 seconds. In addition, drink between 24 and 32 gulps of water (one glass of water never did the trick for me). Yes, I have counted the gulps. For me, 32 gulps is the right number. Lucky 32.
4. Keep drinking fluids and pee’ing throughout the day.
Robyn Hussa Farrell is Author and Editor of the Real Deal and Founder and CEO of NORMAL.