Cystitis – a common UTI
Cystitis commonly impacts the lower urinary tract, which includes the urethra and bladder. Cystitis is very common, especially in young women who are sexually active, and in perimenopausal and menopausal women, due to low levels of oestrogen. Ageing men with lower urinary tract symptoms associated with prostate health are also at greater risk of developing cystitis. Around 95% of cystitis cases are caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli).
Women & UTIs
Anatomically, women have a shorter urethra than men, which means it’s quicker and easier for bacteria to travel into the urinary tract. Many women may be unaware that they have an infection, and it’s not until the infection is well established that the following characteristic symptoms appear:
- Burning or stinging pain on urination
- Cloudy urine
- Strong-smelling or dark urine
- Increased urinary frequency or urgency – only small amounts of urine passed
- Pain in the lower abdomen or pelvic pressure
Frequent sexual intercourse increases the risk of developing a UTI and tends to make the symptoms more pronounced. For perimenopausal and menopausal women, low levels of oestrogen change the microflora from one high in lactobacillus to one high in E. coli, which considerably increases the risk of UTI’s. Other risk factors for cystitis include:
- Being pregnant
- Advancing age
- Incomplete bladder emptying
- Underlying urological abnormalities
- Some lubricants and spermicides
- In-dwelling catheters
Cranberry – the ‘gold standard’ herb
Cranberry is traditionally used in Western herbal medicine to maintain urinary tract health and to help reduce the occurrence of medically diagnosed cystitis. Cranberry contains active constituents known as proanthocyanidins that help stop bacteria from adhering to the cell wall and multiplying in the urinary tract and bladder.
Cranberry also provides antioxidant support to reduce free radicals formed in the body and contains vitamin C which helps to support healthy immune system function. See here Cranberry 70 000.