Have you wondered about whether or not UTIs can cause infertility? In my fertility practice, I work with clients ALL the time who struggle with recurrent UTIs. I remember one particular client with a chronic UTI history that dated back 20 years. Her UTIs were always post-coital, tested positive for bacteria, and responded to a course of antibiotics … but they kept coming back. What finally led her to me was yet another UTI, but this time her symptoms hadn’t resolved after a round of antibiotics (like they always had before). We implemented my protocol for chronic UTIs (more deets on that below)—and now she’s been UTI-free for the past two years … AND she got pregnant.
So can UTIs actually cause infertility? Well, yes and no. In western society, we love black and white systems of cause and effect, but the real answers are usually gray. In most cases, the reasons why a couple can’t conceive are multifaceted—and in my experience, recurrent UTIs are a common piece of the infertility puzzle.
A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is essentially just an infection that happens in your urinary tract, bladder, and/or kidneys. They cause painful and uncomfortable symptoms like lower back pain, a burning feeling while urinating, dark or cloudy urine, inability to completely empty the bladder, and can you to feel tired, shaky, and flat out yucky.
UTIs are caused by a variety of factors, such as having sex too often or not enough, not drinking enough water and/or not vacating your bladder often enough, using chemical spermicides, taking antibiotics too often, using harsh chemical soaps and vaginal care products, a high sugar & refined carb diet, menopause/amenorrhea (low estrogen), and using birth control pills (hormone imbalance).
Essentially, anything that throws off the natural balance of your urinary tract (including hormone imbalance), can make it harder for your body to fight off infection, and therefore make you more susceptible to UTIs.
Unfortunately the most common treatment for a UTI is antibiotics—which, for someone who suffers from them regularly, can significantly exacerbate the problem.
The first way UTIs affect fertility has to do with the proximity of the urethra and the bladder to the uterus and vagina.
The infection that causes a UTI can travel back and forth from the urethra to the vagina while washing/wiping, and therefore travel to the uterus as well. This means that someone with frequent UTIs is also at risk for frequent vaginal infections (bacterial vaginosis, or BV).
Regular bouts of UTIs and BV left untreated can infect the fallopian tubes, uterus, and cervix—resulting in pelvic inflammatory disease. PID can cause scar tissue to develop in/on the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes, resulting in partial or complete infertility. While developing PID is a worst-case scenario, chronic UTIs, even when easily treated, are also a symptom of imbalanced hormones and an imbalanced vaginal/gut microbiome, and those factors can also majorly impact your fertility.
It’s all connected, people! When your vaginal microbiome, gut microbiome, AND your hormones are all working the way they’re supposed to, the other natural functions of your body (like your fertility) fall into place as well.
The short answer? Be nice to your vag, and she’ll be nice to you. Don’t douche, ever, for any reason. Your vagina is self-cleaning and douching is completely unnecessary. Avoid soaps, toilet paper, and menstrual products with added fragrances, as this can irritate your vaginal flora. Consider switching to a reusable menstrual cup (like the Divacup), which is less irritating and cleaner, instead of using pads or tampons. Make sure your underwear is made of breathable fabric like organic cotton, and don’t wear wet bathing suit bottoms for long periods of time (this can introduce lots of nasty bacteria to your vagina).
I also recommend taking the following steps:
Increase your vitamin C intake to 1,000 mg, three times per day. This powder is easy to high dose quickly. Vitamin C makes urine more acidic, inhibits the growth of E. coli, and enhances immune function. A 2007 study found that pregnant women taking a daily dose of 100 milligrams of vitamin C for a three-month period were able to reduce urinary infections.
Make sure you’re on probiotics asap to optimize both your gut microbiome and vaginal microbiome (they’re one and the same). My favorite is MegaSporeBiotic (click on REGISTER in upper right corner, then click PATIENT, then enter code SJS2018 when asked for Patient Direct code to order).
Increase your garlic intake: Allicillin, one of the active principles of freshly crushed raw garlic, has a variety of antimicrobial activities. In its pure form, allicin exhibits antibacterial activity against a wide range of bacteria, including multi-drug-resistant strains of E. coli. In addition to eating more garlic in your diet, I also suggest taking 1 capsule of Allicillin twice daily.
Take UT Intensive, which contains a high dose of d-mannose (the fruit sugar found in cranberry) designed to promote a healthy urinary tract. Cranberry is one of the most widely studied natural remedies for supporting urinary tract health. Unlike many commercially available cranberry products (which are made from juice or contain individual isolated, health-promoting phytochemicals), the cranberry extract in UT Intensive is made from the whole fruit—juice, skins, flesh, and seeds—and therefore contains the full complement of phytochemicals, organic acids, fatty acids and phenolics. Also included is Mannose—a type of sugar found in various fruits and vegetables. Its naturally occurring isomer, D-mannose, is similar in structure to urinary tract receptors, and thus helps maintain a healthy environment in the urinary tract.
Instead of relying on antibiotics, take 1 tsp of coconut oil at least three times/daily (more is better!). Coconut oil is highly antimicrobial.
Take 2 tbsp of Silvercillin 3-4 times per day until your symptoms subside. Silvercillin is a highly effective antimicrobial preparation composed of pure silver complexed with purified water. It has no negative effect on healthy bacteria, but works to kill virtually all pathogens, bacteria, yeast and even many antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Monolaurin is another supplement that can be helpful in treating UTIs, particularly those that are caused by bacteria other than E. coli. Monolaurin is a form of lauric acid, which is the predominant fatty acid in coconut and palm kernel oils (and is also present in human breast milk!). It offers potent support for immune health without adversely affecting beneficial intestinal flora. It also contains vitamin C for added immune benefit. Take 2 capsules daily.
Last but not least? Eliminate ALL sugars & refined carbohydrates from your diet — they feed the pathogenic bacteria and make the situation way worse (and remember: alcohol counts as a sugar!). Make sure to eat a rainbow of fruits & veggies, plenty of healthy fats from coconut products, wild caught fish, avocado, olives, nuts and seeds, the highest quality protein you can afford, and drink bone broth daily. Along with your probiotic, eat plenty of naturally fermented foods like kombucha, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, and kefir water.
Eating quality protein, healthy fats, and starchy veggies (instead of processed bread products) along with taking the right supplements, can go a long way to helping you heal recurrent UTIs naturally!
Looking for more information about how recurrent UTIs may be affecting your fertility? Schedule a consultation with me!