For the unfamiliar, a urinary tract infection is when bacteria enters the urinary tract, resulting in an infection. Alternate definition: An infection that ruins your day by leading to pain, a trip to the clinic, a trip to the pharmacy, and also more pain. The most commonly known symptom is a burning sensation while you pee, but other symptoms include blood in your pee, pain in your pelvic area, and feelings of tiredness or nausea. Again: Day. Ruiner.
Anyway, flashback to 2014, when Jenna Ryan—now the CEO and founder of Uqora, the brand helping people proactively take control of their urinary tract health—had eight in one year. "I call it my UTI-apocalypse," she says. "I had always struggled with UTIs, but that year was particularly grueling. I was desperate to get ahead of the problem, but was told repeatedly there was little I could do."
Unfortunately, that's an extremely frustrating refrain you might have also heard—because 50 to 60 percent of people with vaginas will get at least one in their lifetime, according to this 2013 study.
"When I was at the height of my issue with UTIs, I felt really alone in my struggle," Ryan says. "None of my close friends or family had UTIs like I did—why was it happening to me?" The typical advice of "drink cranberry juice" and "make sure you’re wiping correctly" just wasn't cutting it. This experience inspired Ryan, along with her now-husband Spencer, to found Uqora in 2017.
Keep scrolling to learn more about Ryan's experience, and what to do about a UTI.
What causes a UTI + lifestyle changes to try
So how do bacteria enter the urinary tract? "For a lot of people, this can happen from sex, exercise, sitting too long, or holding your bladder," Ryan says. “And generally, women are a lot more prone to UTIs. That’s because our urethras are shorter than men’s urethras. This means that bacteria don’t need to travel as far to get into the urinary tract. We’re at risk of getting a UTI any time bacteria are introduced to the urinary tract.”
As a starting point, there are a few things you can do to stay proactive about urinary tract health. “Although not enough for everyone, peeing after sex and staying hydrated is the right starting place when it comes to urinary tract health,” Ryan says.
Cool, cool, cool. But the fact that some people are just more susceptible to UTIs no matter what they do (often due to anatomical factors), makes the typical advice like "wipe front to back" particularly sting. Yes, it’s good practice, Ryan says, but some people need more when it comes to proactive care.
How to promote urinary tract health
I never thought I'd think this much about my urinary tract, but through all this, I've realized how important urinary-tract health really is. That's why Uqora has three different science-backed products developed in partnership with urologists and scientists, all designed to help promote a healthy—one more time—urinary tract.
The first, Target, is the original Uqora product. The pink lemonade-flavored powder (much tastier than cranberry juice, IMO) dissolves in water so you shake and drink it to help flush out your urinary tract after sex, exercise, or travel (take it based on what typically triggers your UTIs). The formula is filled with targeted nutrients like calcium (which acts as an electrolyte), citric acid (which makes your urine less acidic), and Vitamin B6 (which has a gentle diuretic effect, which means it makes you pee more to help with said flushing).
Next up is Control, which is all about maintaining a steady baseline by cleansing biofilm—a tool bacteria can use to stay hidden. You take two capsules daily, which are filled with ingredients like curcumin, a compound found in turmeric which has been found to help disrupt biofilm, according to Uqora.
And lastly, Promote, which is a probiotic that instead of helping with digestion is specifically formulated to promote a healthy vaginal microbiome with three different strains of lactobacillus bacteria. “When the vaginal microbiome is not in balance with healthy populations of lactobacillus, it can affect urinary health by impacting the urinary microbiome as well,” Ryan says. Here’s to tangible advice and a healthy urinary tract.
Want to promote your own urinary-tract health? Take 20 percent off your first order at uqora.com/wellandgood.
Art: Well+Good Creative
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