Urinary tract infections (UTIs for short) – they’re the pits. Especially when they hit what feels like every time you have sex. I’m also in the fortunate/unfortunate position where my partner is away a lot, so we tend to get a little crazy when he returns. And every reunion sex fest is followed by my friend the bladder infection.
While sex isn’t the only cause of UTIs (wiping the wrong way is a major fail, it’s front to back, not the other way around!), it is probably the most common one in right-wiping adult women. Why? Because, sadly, sex can introduce nasties into your urinary tract.
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The UTI/Sex connection
During sex, the urethra comes into contact with bacteria from the genital area and, um, bum, allowing them to enter the urethra, the bladder and eventually the kidneys, resulting in the most irritating of infections. We’re taking burning when you pee, needing to pee all the time, pain in your lower back or abdomen, strange-smelling wee, feeling wiped out and shaky, even fever.
And here’s an insane stat I stumbled upon during one of my endless “UTI Cure” Google searches: Almost 80% of premenopausal women with a UTI have had sex within the previous 24 hours. And frequent sex increases the risk…
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Cranberries and other desperate measures
I’ve tried it all. My local Clicks Pharmacy chemist knows me by name. And, while I do try to keep my it’s-too-late-for-cranberry-or-even-Citro-Soda emergency visits to the minimum, it does happen that I end up with a mild kidney infection that requires an antibiotic intervention – a real horror for someone opposed to anything stronger than a Panado.
Also, to be honest, I’ve always kinda wondered if all that cranberry pill-popping and Citro-Soda nose-holding was working. According to Professor Patrick Bouic, chief scientific officer at Synexa Life Sciences, “Citrosoda only sees to the burning. [As for] cranberry, one needs loads of this to have anti-infective activity.” Right.
So what’s a girl to do, Prof?
As luck would have it, there’s this crazy-cool little plant that basically grows in our back garden – okay, the greater Western Cape, but whatever, it’s local! Unlike the above methods, “buchu contains molecules that kill bacteria associated with UTIs – but it also has potent anti-inflammatory properties. So, it works in a dual manner: addressing the burning sensations as well as actually getting rid of the infection.” Essentially, a natural antibiotic.
“Buchu contains rutin and this induces renal output,” explains Prof Bouic. So it’s also a diuretic. “It’s important when you have a UTI to flush the kidneys as much as possible to prevent the infection from creeping up to the kidneys. It therefore has a three-pronged approach: Anti-inflammatory (stops the burning), anti-infective (gets rid of the bacterium causing the infection) and diuretic properties (increased urinary output),” he says.
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I tried it – and it’s working
Obviously I had to try it. So, in anticipation of The BF landing on SA soil – and in my bed – I got my paws on a box of BuchuLife UTI Relief+ and began my daily regimen of two tabs up to three times a day for relief and prevention (the second promise being my experiment). I also tossed in tons of the Herbal Water (the lime is sublime) just because I love the taste – and some healthy fizz the morning after the night before. (Mmmmm, remind me to try it as a mixer.)
And… because I am nothing if not embarrassingly enthusiastic about every little personal project, I cooked with buchu too. Pulled buchu pork – yes? Hell yes.
Without going into detail, BF came and went and guess what? My bladder was so chilled. Not even a twinge. And, I mean, I waited for that painful piddle – I really did. Nothing. I think this might very well be my first successful bladder infection intervention.
What I really like about buchu is that it doesn’t just keep your bladder unbothered. It also comes with a bunch of other health benefits – and you get to choose the way you take it.
Obviously the pills I took (and will continue you take) were specifically indicated for UTIs. But there’s everything from creams to teas and even that all-purpose buchu water – and they treat everything from PMS to eczema, while keeping your joints pain-free, your blood sugar levels even (cheers cream-bun-crash-and-burns), boosting your immune system, mood and energy levels, general body detoxing and fighting a range of infections. And then there is my personal fave – after the bladder bonus, obviously – anti-ageing.
And get this: Apparently it keeps yeast infections at bay too. Major points here. Because my privates are clearly prone to panicking over every little thing.
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A critical caveat…
How can you tell whether you should treat your UTI with buchu or if you require a more drastic treatment, like an antibiotic? “If after starting the buchu management you don’t feel any relief in symptoms within two to three hours, then the infection may be too far progressed, thereby requiring antibiotics. [But] at least try the buchu before rushing into using antibiotics,” he says.
Or simply prevent it in the first place, like I did.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthsa.co.za
Image credit: iStock