- PCOS is a common hormonal disorder that can cause various symptoms, including irregular menstrual cycles, acne, and infertility.
- A diagnosis of PCOS is typically based on a combination of symptoms, physical exam findings, and blood tests.
- Those with PCOS may be at increased risk for other health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, and should be screened and monitored regularly.
- While there is no cure for PCOS, treatment options are available to manage symptoms and improve overall health, including lifestyle changes, medications, and, in some cases, surgery.
- Working with a healthcare provider knowledgeable about PCOS is essential and can help tailor a treatment plan to your individual needs and goals.
Urinary tract infections are common bacterial infections that may infect your urinary system including the bladder, ureters, or kidneys. UTIs commonly begin when Escherichia coli (E. coli) enters your urethra, adheres to the urinary tract lining, and forms biofilm.
A urinary tract infection can often lead to lower urinary tract symptoms, including an overactive bladder, pelvic pain, nocturia (frequent urination throughout the night), and urinary incontinence.
But if bacteria cause urinary tract infections, whats the relationship between stress levels and urinary health?
Your body’s ability to ward off infection is determined by the strength of your immune system, and elevated levels of stress increase cortisol levels within the body. Cortisol is a hormone released explicitly by the body in response to stress. When you experience higher cortisol levels, this can impact your sleep quality, inflammatory response, and overall immune system. And as you know, when your immune system is weakened, your body is more susceptible to bacteria, which can cause infection.
A study conducted in 2015 reported that women with high levels of perceived stress were 2.23 times more likely to experience recurrent UTIs than those who reported low levels of stress.1
The key to managing your stress and preventing it from contributing to the cause of UTIs is to manage mental health, and the best way to manage mental health is to understand what’s going on so you can take control.
UTIs are caused by bacteria, most commonly E. coli. Common symptoms that may indicate a UTI include painful or burning sensations during urination, frequent urination, and cloudy or strong-smelling urine.
In a population-based survey conducted in the United States, a study examined the prevalence of these common symptoms among women with UTIs. The findings revealed these specific percentages per symptom2:
- The urgency to urinate (90%)
- Frequency of urination (81%)
- Burning sensation during urination (81%)
- Lower abdominal pain or discomfort (75%)
Additionally, the study observed that 60% of women experienced fevers and chills, indicating that the infection had spread to the kidneys or upper urinary tract.
It goes to show that if these symptoms are neglected or left untreated, there is a possibility that more health issues may arise. These findings emphasize the importance of promptly addressing UTI symptoms to prevent further complications.
Factors That Contribute to UTIs
Your sexual activity can play a huge part in developing a UTI. Studies show that having sexual intercourse more than once a week increased the chance of developing a UTI by 2.6 times more than those who had intercourse less than once a week.3 The study also showed that using a diaphragm for contraception and having a new sexual partner were significant risk factors for UTIs. Taking preventative measures, such as consuming D-Mannose & Cranberry, help to reduce their risk of developing a UTI.
Pregnancy is a more commonly known risk factor for getting a UTI than you may think. It can be difficult to recognize a UTI while pregnant because you may think what you’re experiencing are just pregnancy symptoms. Research shows that pregnant women should be screened for UTIs during prenatal visits and consider preventative measures.4
Decreased estrogen levels in menopausal women can lead to changes in the microbiome of the urinary tract, making them more susceptible to infections. One study showed hormone replacement therapy significantly reduced the incidence of UTIs in postmenopausal women compared to the placebo group.5 If you’re going through menopause, maybe it’s time to consult with your doctor about getting hormone replacement therapy.
Medical conditions are an umbrella term that can refer to many illnesses or ailments. Several medical conditions could put you at risk for a UTI. For instance, women with diabetes face a 2.5 times higher likelihood of developing UTIs than those without diabetes. Additionally, individuals with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, and other neurological conditions are also at an increased risk.6
This study suggests that women with recurrent UTIs should undergo evaluation for underlying medical conditions like kidney stones, tumors, and structural urinary tract abnormalities, as these factors can further heighten their susceptibility to UTIs.6
Urinary Tract Abnormalities
Urinary tract abnormalities can include anatomical abnormalities, such as vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), and functional abnormalities, such as voiding dysfunction. If this resonates with you, we suggest getting checked for underlying abnormalities.
Catheter use is another big risk factor for developing a UTI. A catheter is a soft hollow tube that is inserted through the urethra and into the bladder to assist with urination, typically post-surgery. As helpful as they are, they can lead to kidney stones, interstitial cystitis, and other bladder infections. In fact, Pubmed reported that catheter-associated UTIs (CAUTIs) are the most common healthcare-associated infection.7
Individuals with bladder pain syndrome, overactive bladder (OAB), interstitial cystitis, lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), and other bladder symptoms have a higher likelihood of developing UTIs.
Weakened immune system
Conditions that weaken the immune system, such as diabetes or HIV/AIDS, can make individuals more susceptible to infections.
Incomplete bladder emptying or urinary obstruction can create an environment for bacterial growth and increase the risk of UTIs. If you need to pee, don’t wait.
Poor personal hygiene
Inadequate hygiene practices, such as improper wiping after using the toilet, can introduce bacteria to the urethral area.
Use of certain contraceptives
Some contraceptive methods, such as spermicides or diaphragms, as well as certain hormonal birth control, can increase the risk of UTIs.
It’s important to note that while these risk factors can increase the likelihood of UTIs, anyone is susceptible.
The Link Between Stress and UTIs
The link between stress and urinary tract infections has been a topic of interest among many researchers. It’s been widely acknowledged how chronic stress can strain the body, particularly the immune system, and potentially compromise its functionality. In other words, once the immune system is weakened, your vulnerability to infection is heightened.
A study conducted in Poland sheds more light on the correlation between stress and UTI. Using an observational approach, a study collected data from female patients admitted to a hospital to treat urinary tract infections. Eighty women with UTIs and 80 age-matched controls who did not have UTIs were included.8
The study’s findings revealed a significant association between stress levels and UTIs. Women who reported high levels of stress were more likely to experience UTIs compared to those reporting low-stress levels. Notably, 60% of women with UTIs reported experiencing high-stress levels, in contrast to only 17.5% of women without UTIs.
In fact, the study also identified that there is a correlation between the type of stressful life event and UTI occurrence. For instance, women who had recently experienced events like an illness or death in the family were at a higher risk of developing UTIs than those who had not undergone such events.
Managing Stress to Prevent UTIs
Though many factors contribute to developing UTIs, effectively managing your stress is a crucial and empowering first step.
Stress management can be like integrating relaxation techniques into your daily routine, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep each night, implementing good time management skills, and seeking support when needed.
When you prioritize your mental and emotional health, your physical health can also be positively impacted. Consider using the following methods and practices to promote overall well-being and reduce your likelihood of developing a UTI.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Breathwork exercises, meditation routines, and yoga classes can significantly impact combating stress-induced UTIs . Breathwork is about focusing on your breath to tame your wondering and anxious mind.
You can start by closing your eyes and counting to five. Then, breathe in slowly and exhale in the same rhythm. Repeat this activity 5-10 times until you have reached a calm state.
We suggest searching YouTube or visiting your local yoga studio to find the best practice for you.
Getting your heart pumping and moving your body can be life-changing when it comes to managing stress. We’re not saying you need to do high-intensity workout classes multiple times a week or run a ton of miles, but you should make a conscious effort every day to move your body mindfully.
This is especially important if you have a stationary work setting and don’t get a ton of movement throughout your day. You could try going on a 15-minute “Hot Girl” Walk, taking up a new active hobby like pickleball, or even joining a local workout class once a week. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you enjoy it so you’ll stay consistent with it!
Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep plays a vital role in managing stress and promoting overall well-being. Adequate sleep allows the mind and body to rest, repair, and rejuvenate. Sleep naturally helps to reduce stress levels.
During sleep, the brain processes and consolidates information, enhancing cognitive function and emotional regulation. In addition, quality sleep also supports a healthy immune system, which can effectively combat stress-related challenges.
Sufficient sleep can also improve your mood, making it easier to cope with daily stressors. To optimize sleep quality, establish a consistent sleep routine, create a comfortable sleep environment, limit exposure to stimulating screens before bed, and practice some of those relaxation techniques we shared above. You’ll be snoozing soundly in no time!
Developing a solid support system is invaluable for managing stress and promoting overall wellness. Turning to your support network can provide comfort, understanding, and perspective when stressed.
Whether it’s a shoulder to cry on, a best friend to talk to, or a healthcare provider for professional guidance and treatment options, reaching out for support can make a significant difference. We often underestimate the importance of having a support system, but rest assured, they play a crucial role in navigating stress and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Prevention and Treatment of UTIs
When treating UTIs, starting treatment is crucial to alleviate your symptoms and prevent the condition from progressing into a more severe state. Have you ever ignored a problem for so long, hoping it would disappear, and it never did? Chances are it made worse!
Prompt treatment of UTIs is vital for a variety of reasons, but mostly because severe complications and a higher probability of recurrence are at stake if you delay or forgo treatment.
One study found that women who received education on the prevention and treatment of UTIs were able to reduce their risk of recurrent UTIs by 70% (yes, 70%!) compared to women who did not receive such education.9 Education is so powerful in helping you take care of your urinary tract health, and our goal is to provide you with the right techniques for prevention. ⤵️
Preventing infection is better than needing to cure it. But how exactly do you prevent a UTI when you’re bound to be exposed to bacteria in your urinary tract? As we said before, education is key, as is practicing good hygiene, urinating frequently, and staying hydrated.
Practice Good Hygiene
Simply maintaining good hygiene can reduce the risk of developing UTIs in women by up to 50%.10 But what exactly are good hygiene practices? Surely frequently showering is a good idea, but so is wiping from front to back and urinating after sexual activity. You’d be surprised by how much bacteria you’re exposed to when using the bathroom and even being sexually intimate.
Holding your urine for prolonged periods of time is strongly associated with the increased development of UTIs, so don’t hold it in! A study conducted by American Family Physician found that one additional urination a day can decrease the risk of a UTI by 10% because it helps flush bacteria from your urinary tract.11
You’re probably tired of being told to drink more water and eat hydrating foods, but it’s a pressing matter. Water is your urinary tract’s best friend and gives you more opportunities to flush our unwanted bacteria. Aim for 3/4 of your body’s weigh in oz. So if you weigh 120 lbs, you would shoot for 90 oz of water daily.
Avoid Irritating Feminine Products
As tempting as it is to want your vagina to smell like perfume or flowers, it’s just not natural. And exposing your vaginal area to fragrant products like sprays, powders, and creams can significantly increase your chances of getting a UTI. A study shows that almost twice the amount of women who used feminine products developed a UTI compared to those who didn’t.12
Take it from us, and throw away the products. Seriously!
If you still end up facing a UTI, it’s okay. Many variables play into this infection, so don’t throw in the towel just yet. Here are some effective treatment options for you to try.
Taking probiotics can help improve the immune system and urinary tract microbiome, helping combat any bacteria from causing infection. Happy V’s Pre+Pro was made specifically with this in mind.
Cranberry & D-Mannose
Taking antibiotics for your UTI is your best course of action if you want to get rid of it as quickly and effectively as possible. If you’re deciding between the three-day course or the seven-day, a study has shown that there is less than a 1% difference in the cure rate, so if you’re short on time, don’t worry!13 Both timelines can effectively relieve you of symptoms. Unfortunately, antibiotics for UTIs must be prescribed by a healthcare professional and are unavailable over the counter.
Pain Relief from NSAIDs
Though it’s not a cure, pain relief medication can certainly alleviate the discomfort caused by a UTI. Ibuprofen can reduce your pain by 50% when you have a UTI, so it’s a good idea always to keep a bottle in your medicine cabinet, especially if you’re prone to them.14
Don’t underestimate the power of a warm compress! You can use them for a variety of health conditions, including treating UTI symptoms. A warm compress is typically a warm, damp cloth or pad that can be placed on a specific area of the body to provide soothing heat and relieve discomfort.
Stress is a massive contributor to developing UTIs, but avoiding them with the right preventative measures is possible. By maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, managing your stress, and including probiotics in your routine, you can significantly decrease your chances of getting a UTI. When you practice good hygiene and keep a Happy V, your body will thank you for it!
- Juthani-Mehta, M., & Guo, Y. (2015). Recurrent urinary tract infections in women: risk factors, treatment, and prevention. BMC Women’s Health, 15(1), 4.
- Foxman, B., & Brown, P. (2003). Epidemiology of urinary tract infections: transmission and risk factors, incidence, and costs. Infectious disease clinics of North America, 17(2), 227-241. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0891-5520(03)00005-9
- Hooton, T. M., Scholes, D., Hughes, J. P., Winter, C., Roberts, P. L., Stapleton, A. E., & Stamm, W. E. (1996). A prospective study of risk factors for symptomatic urinary tract infection in young women. New England Journal of Medicine, 335(7), 468-474. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJM199608153350703
- Wing, D. A., Rumney, P. J., Preslicka, C. W., & Chung, J. H. (1998). Daily cranberry juice for the prevention of asymptomatic bacteriuria in pregnancy: a randomized, controlled pilot study. Journal of Urology, 160(3), 841-844. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0022-5347(01)62536-5
- Raz, R., Colodner, R., Kunin, C. M., & Stamm, W. E. (2000). A 1-year randomized placebo-controlled study of estrogen and progestin on urinary symptoms, vaginal flora, and vaginal cytology in elderly women. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 182(3), 799-805. https://doi.org/10.1086/315775
- Tandogdu, Z., & Wagenlehner, F. M. (2016). Global epidemiology of urinary tract infections. Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases, 29(1), 73-79. https://doi.org/10.1097/qco.0000000000000228
- Saint, S., Kaufman, S. R., Thompson, M., Rogers, M. A., Chenoweth, C. E., & Trick, W. (2008). A reminder reduces urinary catheterization in hospitalized patients. Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, 34(9), 111-116. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1553-7250(08)34015-5
- Polak, G., Wiśniewska-Freund, M., Sobieszczańska, B. M., Włoch, T., & Filipiak, J. (2016). The influence of stress on the occurrence of urinary tract infections in women. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 11, 319-328. https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S98756
- Foxman, B., Barlow, R., D’Arcy, H., Gillespie, B., & Sobel, J. D. (2000). Urinary tract infection: self-reported incidence and associated costs. Annals of Epidemiology, 10(8), 509-515. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1047-2797(00)00072-7
- Hooton, T. M. (2012). Uncomplicated urinary tract infection. New England Journal of Medicine, 366(11), 1028-1037. doi: 10.1056/NEJMcp1104429
- Dalal, S., & Nicolle, L. (2016). Recurrent urinary tract infections in women: diagnosis and management. American Family Physician, 94(9), 732-738.
- Hooton, T. M., Fihn, S. D., Johnson, C., Roberts, P. L., Stamm, W. E. (1991). Association between bacterial vaginosis and acute cystitis in women using diaphragms. Archives of Internal Medicine, 151(5), 924-928.
- Hooton, T. M., Roberts, P. L., Cox, M. E., & Stapleton, A. E. (2011). Voided midstream urine culture and acute cystitis in premenopausal women. New England Journal of Medicine, 365(11), 1057-1060.
- Ferry, S. A., Holm, S. E., Stenlund, H., Lundholm, R., Monsen, T. J., & Sandberg, T. (2012). Clinical and bacteriological outcome of different doses and duration of pivmecillinam compared with placebo therapy of uncomplicated lower urinary tract infection in women: the LUTIW project. Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care, 30(1), 10-15.