Recurrent bladder infections:

My story so far.

The years of my life where I had recurrent bladder infections, are something I look back on with a bit of a shudder. For years I didn't know what set them off, jumping from one conclusion to another. I felt like there was something very wrong with me, that I was a hypochondriac when the doctors said that it "just happens to some people". I missed out on so much fun and life I could have been living because I was in pain and embarrassed.

It nearly ruined my relationship with my partner. For a long time, every time we had sex I got a bladder infection - as you can imagine I wasn't much in the mood for sex. We lost a whole lot of intimacy and fun that we wanted to have as a couple. Even when I didn't get a bladder infection, I was still so worried about it that it affected us. And when I did have a bladder infection I was not a nice person to be around. In pain and grouchy, I was mean and I didn't care. I am so grateful that he stuck around for me to fix the problem.

I felt like I was spending a fortune. Each time I got one, I would go to the doctor which meant taking time off work to do it. I would then need to pay to see the doctor and then pay for the prescription for antibiotics. Often, I would have to pay for thrush treatment a few days later, as the antibiotics had caused me to develop thrush. If I happened to get one in the weekend, it was even worse as doctors charge more for emergency weekend treatment. I was spending a lot of money on something that wasn't getting fixed long term. They came back more and more often.

Part of the problem was that I didn't know what was causing the bladder infections. If there was a clear pattern for me to see I would have stopped doing whatever it was that caused them. Because the body is such a subtle balance I never could tell what was causing them. Something that seemed to cause it one time, might not the next.

It was part luck and part determination that helped me find a way to start to turn my life around.

Two key things happened for me.

  1. I realised that I was sensitive to dairy. This was causing other problems in my life, like IBS, and once I cut this out my body seemed to be able to cope a lot better. Having one less thing to battle my body seemed to be able to deal with little issues more easily.
  2. I found an effective bladder infection treatment that wasn't antibiotics. While the antibiotics were temporarily fixing the bladder infections they were making my entire digestive system much worse, setting me up for more recurrent bladder infections. Once I stopped having antibiotics so often, my digestive system wasn't getting knocked around so much.

After this I was still getting bladder infections, although much less often, but it gave me breathing space to work out what patterns were happening that would trigger bladder infections.

Here are some of the things I do that help keep me from having recurrent bladder infections

Diet:

My diet is by no means perfect but I am working towards slowly changing it to one that is best for me. After reading books and websites, watching documentaries like "Hungry for Change" and generally immersing myself in what a healthy diet looks like, I am finally starting to change what I eat. Unlike fad diets, which I have done in the past, my new motto is about slow subtle changes that will last a lifetime. Eating whole, real foods is a big part of that. This means more effort and energy to be spent on food but for my overall health not just bladder infections this is changing everything.

I have realised my body is actually quite incredible and is able to heal itself amazingly once I stop hurting it with foods and poisons that it was struggling to cope with. With the changes in my diet, my hay fever has gone away considerably, my allergy to cats as well. My irritable bowel symptoms are virtually non existent and when they are I can usually trace it back to exactly what caused it.

Water:

I have a new love affair with water. Water used to be something I drunk when I had to or when I was really thirsty. Since I have realised how crucial it is for my health and to prevent recurrent bladder infections I have begun to appreciate it so much more. I have turned into a water loving hippie! I try to convert people to drinking water, much to their annoyance. But seriously, when I am drinking an appropriate amount of water, I feel so much better and my bladder infections are much less likely to develop.

Hygiene:

It's not that I was a particularly dirty person before, but when I went on camping trips with the boys or was staying in hostels sometimes I didn't shower everyday. Now I put my foot down and insist on a shower, even if it is cold and not very clean looking. This will be put to the test when I do my travelling through South East Asia next year but I have found that even just a quick dip that cleans the important bits is very important for me. When I am able to, I usually shower once or twice a day.

Peeing after sex:

This is a habit that is now firmly entrenched in me. As soon as possible after sex I get up and pee. If I can I will also have a shower. It used to be a pain like I was missing out on the next aspect of it but it is just far more important to stay healthy and prevent recurrent bladder infections.

Relax:

Of all the changes I am making this is probably one of the most difficult for me. But I can notice a pattern between being stressed out and recurrent bladder infections. I don't know why but keeping healthy, happy and de-stressed makes for a healthy me.

Healing my stomach:

This is one step that I actually haven't done too much on yet. However I am aware that if I am going to finally kick this in the butt and never have to worry about recurrent bladder infections again, I will need to "reboot" my stomach. With the cleaner eating and avoiding sugary, processed foods I am well on my way but there are things you can do to speed this up and get your stomach to optimal digestive ability that you were designed to have. This is on my to do list but haven't gotten there yet, but plan to keep you updated on how this is going.

This seems like an awful lot of information to take in and digest. I'm sorry I can't give you a quick fix but I can tell you what has worked for me so far and hope that it helps trigger some ideas on what could work for you too.

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