Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are extremely common in women, and most women experience a UTI at some point in life. UTIs aren’t usually a cause for concern, as they typically go away after treatment. However, recurrent UTIs require further investigation to determine the underlying cause. So why do UTIs happen?
UTIs may involve any part of the urinary system but typically affect the lower urinary tract – the bladder and urethra. The urethra is the tube that transmits urine from the bladder to the outside. It opens into the area around the vagina known as the vestibule.
Symptoms of a UTI include urinary frequency/urgency, pain or burning with urination, and pressure in the lower abdomen.
Why Do UTIs happen
A UTI is typically caused by bacteria that enter the urinary tract through the urethra and travel into the bladder. The bacteria may come from the area around the vagina or the rectum.
Some women who exhibit symptoms of a UTI have a negative urine culture, which means there is no bacterial infection. In some cases, contact dermatitis may be mistaken for a UTI because it has similar symptoms.
Contact dermatitis in the vestibule can occur because of internal factors such as an altered vaginal microflora or external factors such as chemicals from hygiene products.
An altered vaginal microflora has attributes that differ from the known patterns of flora. The problem occurs because of a shift in the healthy balance of bacteria in the vagina.
The normal vaginal microflora consists of 30+ strains of bacteria. The ‘good’ bacteria dominate the environment and form a protective barrier along the entire vaginal mucosa surface. However, when there is a shift in the bacterial environment the ‘bad’ bacteria can multiply.
The vaginal secretions that flow from the altered microflora irritate the vaginal tissues and cause varying symptoms including, urinary frequency/ urgency, burning, irritation, and discharge. The symptoms that manifest vary depending on the sensitivity of the tissues.
Contact dermatitis may also be caused by irritants present in products such as body soaps, shampoos, detergents, and conditioners.
Treating Symptoms of An Altered Vaginal Microflora
An altered vaginal microflora can be detected using a vaginal fluid analysis (VFA) test. The VFA test was developed by gynecologist Dr. R. Stuart Fowler of Fowler GYN International (FGI). It delivers a quantitative analysis of the constituents of the vaginal fluid.
If the VFA test confirms the presence of an altered vaginal microflora FGI uses vaginal rejuvenate therapy to move the microflora towards normal. Vaginal rejuvenate therapy is a customized treatment protocol consisting of medications and hypocontactant skincare products.
FGI includes hypocontactant skincare products in their treatment protocol because most women with a UTI have sensitive external genital tissues. Ordinary hygiene products such as douches and body soaps contain dyes, surfactants, and fragrances that can irritate the tissues, but hypocontactant skincare products are free of these potential irritants.
At FGI, they recommend the FeminaRx Pure SkinCare Collection for women with vulvovaginal symptoms such as itching, burning, and irritation. The collection includes hypocontactant soap, moisturizing skin lotion, astringent genital skin rinse, vaginal lubricant for intercourse, a labial emollient, and shaving cream for the genital area.
Patients generally experience an improvement in symptoms after four months on the treatment protocol, but it can take anywhere from 8-12 months to achieve the best results.