Folk Medicine Remedy No Longer Recommended for Enjoyable Honeymoon Sex

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“Honeymoon cystitis” is the euphemistic term many health providers refer to when treating a woman for a urinary tract infection (UTI). The reference to the term associates one causal source of UTI—frequent sexual intercourse in a short period of time such as while vacationing during a honeymoon. Unfortunately, however, urinary tract infections are not isolated to post-wedding coitus. In fact, the occurrence of UTIs is ubiquitous. Approximately 50% of women have had at least one UTI in their lifetime, with up to 1 out of 3 experiencing recurrent chronic infections.

To combat urinary tract infections via preventive medicine, the most common recommendation in folk medicine—and supported by scientific studies—is the drinking of a glass of cranberry juice twice a day. However, a recent review published by The Cochrane Review of past and recent scientific literature tells us that drinking cranberry juice is no longer recommended for the prevention of UTIs. The Cochrane Review is a publication of The Cochrane Library—an organization that investigates the accuracy and effects of medical interventions and treatments currently applied to patients by physicians.

Urinary tract infections typically occurs when E. coli bacteria residing in or near a person’s uro-genital region makes its way more internally by migrating into the uro-epithelium of the urinary tract to the bladder (and in worst case scenarios—to the kidney) leading to inflammation of the related tissues. When the inflammation occurs in the urethra it is called “urethritis,” and in the bladder it is called “cystitis.” Progression of the infection to the kidneys can result in kidney disease and loss of your kidneys if not medically treated.

Symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:

• Burning with urination

• Frequent urges to urinate

• Lower abdominal pain or aching

• Blood in your urine

• Cloudy urine

The difficulty with bacteria entering the urethra is that the bacteria can actively attach to the walls of the tissue and become permanently embedded via finger-like projections called fimbrae. One of the most effective ways to rid the urinary tract of bacteria is with antibiotics. However, because UTIs are recurrent in many women, prolonged and constant bombarding of the body with antibiotics is not recommended.

One of the most common non-drug recommendations over the years for preventing or treating a UTI has been to drink cranberry juice. Although not fully identified, the active components of cranberry juice are believed to be natural anthocyanidin and proanthocyanidin compounds found in cranberries that are reported to act by preventing the bacteria from being able to attach to the walls of the urinary tract.

Recently, however, just how effective drinking cranberry juice is toward preventing and fighting UTIs has been called into question by new studies that are included in the latest review of literature investigating cranberry juice efficacy.

In The Cochrane Review, researchers looked at the data from 24 studies that tested 4,473 participants with respect to taking cranberry juice, tablets and capsules toward preventing urinary tract infections in comparison to those who were given a placebo or some other substance as a control.

What the new data shows is that there is no strong statistically significant data to indicate that drinking cranberry juice daily really prevents the development of a UTI in most women, and that at best, only a small number of women who suffer from recurrent infections may gain some small benefit from drinking cranberry juice daily.

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“Now that we’ve updated our review with more studies, the results suggest that cranberry juice is even less effective at preventing UTIs than was shown in the last update,” said lead researcher Ruth Jepson of the University of Stirling in Stirling, UK.

The researchers, however, do note that part of the difficulty with some of the studies is the fact that a large percentage of study participants prematurely drop out of a study because they cannot stick to drinking cranberry juice on a daily basis for prolonged periods; and therefore, that the active compounds of cranberries taken in another form and high enough dose may be beneficial.

“We can’t see a particular need for more studies of the effect of cranberry juice, as the majority of existing studies indicate that the benefit is small at best, and the studies have high drop-out rates,” said Jepson. “More studies of other cranberry products such as tablets and capsules may be justified, but only for women with recurrent UTIs, and only if these products contain the recommended amount of active ingredient."

For now, health authorities offer the following recommendations for women toward UTI prevention:

• Drink plenty of water every day to flush your urethra free of potential invading bacteria.

• Urinate when you feel the need; do not hold it in until you make it home.

• Wipe from front to back to prevent transplanting bacteria from your anal region.

• Take showers instead of tub baths—avoid hot tubs.

• Cleanse your (and his) genital area prior to sexual intercourse.

• Avoid using skin-irritating feminine hygiene sprays.

• Use only white unscented toilet paper to avoid potential dye reactions.

• Consider using a bidet for better cleansing.

For a natural way to possibly prevent UTI’s, follow this link to a past Emaxhealth article about the use of probiotics to prevent recurrent UTI infections.

Image Source: Courtesy of MorgueFile

Reference: “Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections” The Cochran Library Published Online: 17 OCT 2012; Ruth G. Jepson et al.

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