Urinary tract infections are generally more common in women than men. Amongst women, there are 3 well-recognised periods in a woman's lifetime when she is most susceptible to get UTIs: school age when infections are commonly due to congenital anomalies (birth defects), the commonest being reflux disease, 18-45 yrs age group, when women are sexually active and in the perimenopausal period i.e. 50-65 yrs.
In adult life, infections are commonly related to sexual activity and apart from sexually transmitted infections (STI) such as Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia which require specific treatment, most infections related to sexual activity are noted in women with relatively poor immune response to invasion of their urinary tract by organisms (bacteria) that originate from a healthy woman's own colonic flora which is unhealthy. These can be managed by simple adjustments to one's lifestyle with emphasis on regular intake of probiotics and cranberry. In addition, whilst the colonic bacterial flora is being altered by these lifestyle measures, preventative antibiotic tablet taken immediately after sexual intercourse can also help stop infections in their tracks and this approach immensely helps in improving the quality of life of these women who have been constantly troubled by recurrent episodes of infections for years; so much so, that they are put off from having sexual intercourse.
Those in the perimenopausal period are more prone to getting infections from their own colonic bacteria because integrity of their vaginal tissue lining is compromised
due to lack of hormone oestrogen after menopause sets in and this can be easily restored by hormone supplement / replacement available in the form of vaginal creams
/ suppositories in addition to preventative antibiotics and lifestyle measures.
In the presence of refractory infections hard to get rid off with simple measures, further investigations are recommended such as ultrasound scan of kidneys and bladder as well as camera examination of the bladder. All these tests are done on an outpatient basis and very well tolerated by the majority of women.
Women getting recurrent water infections should take solace from the fact that these are easy to manage and get rid off with simple but targeted measures and should seek help sooner rather than later to put themselves out of their misery.