Having a UTI is the worst. Having a UTI that won’t go away? That’s a whole new version of worst.
Recurrent urinary tract infections are common, especially for women. One in five women will experience chronic UTIs in their lifetime. More often than not, biofilms are to blame. A biofilm is a cluster of bacteria that bonds together to shield itself from external threats, like antibiotics. And the urinary tract is one of their favourite places to hang out.
How exactly do biofilms form? And what can you do to prevent them from causing chronic UTIs? Let’s discuss.
What is a urinary tract infection?
A urinary tract infection is exactly how it sounds: an infection in your bladder, kidneys, ureters, or urethra. Next to a cold, it’s the second most common infection people get.
A UTI is caused when bacteria finds its way into your urinary tract, attaches to the lining, and spreads. About 80% of UTIs are caused by a bacteria called E. coli that originates in the intestines.
Not sure what a UTI feels like? Here are the most common symptoms:
- A sudden urge to pee (urgency)
- Feeling like you need to pee all the time (frequency)
- A burning sensation when you pee
- Urine looks cloudy/bloody or smells strange
- Struggling to pee
- Lower back or abdominal pain
- Pain during sex
If left untreated, a UTI can spread to your kidneys and cause serious health complications, like sepsis.
What causes chronic UTIs?
If a UTI happens more than twice in six months, it’s considered a chronic or recurrent UTI. And trust us—a urinary tract infection is not something you want to have more than once.
First of all, the symptoms are painful and annoying. But frequent UTIs can also lead to bigger issues, like antibiotic resistance. Since antibiotics are the main course of treatment for UTIs, taking them all the time or taking them incorrectly can cause your body to stop responding to the medication over time. That’s not good.
What causes chronic UTIs? Typically, either new bacteria has found its way in or old bacteria has found its way back. Factors like sex, catheter use, and diabetes can lead to chronic UTIs.
But there’s another common cause that most people don’t know about. It’s called a biofilm—and it might be the reason why you just can't stop your UTI cycle.
What are biofilms and how are they formed?
A biofilm is a group of bacteria that stick together and produce a gooey substance. Gross, we know. But this goop (also known as the extracellular polymeric substance or EPS) is crucial for a biofilm to form and survive. It helps the bacteria attach to surfaces like your urinary tract, stay bonded, and fight back against threats. That’s why biofilms are so hard to destroy.
Biofilms are a common cause of internal infection. They account for up to 80% of all microbial infections in the human body. But biofilms can also originate outside the body, on devices like catheters and pacemakers, or even breast implants.
Why is it difficult to clear out biofilms from the urinary tract?
Scientifically, biofilms are pretty impressive. They can be diverse and complex, made up of countless pathogens that layer on top of each other over time. The EPS each biofilm creates (AKA that gross goop we mentioned earlier) acts like a forcefield so it can keep growing. It’s no wonder biofilms are up to 1,500 times more resistant to antibiotics than free-floating bacteria.
To top it all off, your urinary tract is the ideal place for bacteria to thrive. Liquid is constantly flowing through it and pooling at different points, like in your bladder. Since bacteria loves moisture and stagnant water, it’s easy for pathogens to grow and join forces along the urinary tract lining.
All of this results in a chronic UTI roller coaster. You start feeling the symptoms. Your doctor prescribes antibiotics. The treatment does its thing, destroying as many bacteria as possible. The biofilm resists and sticks around, flying under the radar for a while. Then (if the biofilm is large enough) it can break off, migrate, and infect other areas of the bladder and urinary tract. This sets off another spike in UTI symptoms and starts the whole process over again. Sigh.
What’s the best way to prevent biofilm formation?
The trick to preventing biofilms is to stop bad bacteria from entering your urinary tract in the first place. Here are a few of our top biofilm prevention tips:
- Drink lots of water. The more liquid flows through your urinary tract, the more bacteria is flushed out through your pee.
- Pee before and after sex. It’s so easy for bacteria to enter the body during sex, so it’s important to clear out the urinary tract right away. Click here to learn more about sex and UTIs.
- Wipe front to back. Otherwise, you can bring E. coli directly from your colon to your urethra.
- Take a probiotic with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Lactobacillus is a healthy bacteria is famous for stopping pathogens from colonizing and forming biofilms.
- Take a cranberry PACs supplement. Studies show that cranberry PACs are successful at stopping the growth and development of biofilms in the urinary tract.
PACs (or proanthocyanidins if you’re feeling fancy) are a natural micronutrient found in cranberries. They’re bursting with antioxidants and anti-adhesion abilities. In other words, they’re proven to stop bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract and causing infection.
You can get a small dose of PACs from eating cranberries. But to actually prevent UTIs and biofilm formation, the PACs need to be highly concentrated into supplement form.
What are the best cranberry pills for UTIs?
Utiva Cranberry PACs is an all-natural solution for chronic UTIs. Each cranberry pill contains 36mg of PACs—the clinically-proven dose for stopping bacteria from causing infection. Case in point: 94% of Utiva customers require only Cranberry PACS to prevent their UTIs.
Utiva Cranberry PACs has also been recognized by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC). That means it has been carefully reviewed by a panel of medical professionals to confirm it’s a safe and effective supplement—all based on scientific evidence.
By taking a daily cranberry supplement, you can stop bacteria before it has the chance to form a biofilm. That’s what we call beating a biofilm at its own game. Shop Utiva Cranberry PACs here and talk to your doctor about if cranberry pills are right for you and your UTI journey.