UTI Prevention With Probiotics Not Antibiotics: My Story

No, my doctor didn’t tell me about UTI prevention with probiotics, it was me who told him.

What did my doctors and nurses tell me to do for UTI prevention? Drink water, pee before and after sex and eventually, when none of this worked, take preventive antibiotics.

I could not personally comply with taking antibiotics till the rest of my life and wanted to find an alternative option. This is how I cam across research about probiotics and UTI.

My First UTI

The nurse sent in my prescription for antibiotics warned me to take all of them even if the symptoms go away and also gave me the “lifestyle instructions”. Mainly she advised that I pee before and after sex, wipe from front to back and urinate frequently.

Frankly, I do not like taking antibiotics but if I do, I follow the instructions precisely. I knew that antibiotics work like a death squad: they kill bad, but also some beneficial bacteria.

However, I thought since I eat yogurt regularly I should be fine. The drugs helped almost instantly and I thought I would never have a UTI again.

Shortly After – My Second UTI

A couple of weeks later, during a road trip to Colorado, I felt the familiar symptoms. I’ve got to tell you, my first UTI outbreak was horribly painful and developed super fast. Within the first couple of hours, I was peeing with blood and dying from pain.

So the second time I wasn’t thinking too long and called the doctor again. They made me come in, took a urine sample (yep, it was E. coli) and gave me a prescription for yet another antibiotic.

And of course, the nurse repeated the well-known “pee after sex” mantra as the best way to go about UTI prevention.

Third and Forth UTIs & Antibiotic Prevention

My “wake up call” was when my doctor said that the next step is to take a preventive dose of antibiotics every time after sex. Basically, just take a pill every other day in my case. That’s way too much even from a layman’s perspective!

I started researching the issue.

It is not easy to find answers online since there are too many opinions and all kinds of “kitchen pantry” solutions. By then I had already tried cranberry pills, blueberries, and echinacea.

Baking soda helped to relieve the pain for a while but never “cured” the infection. Fortunately, I found an article on PubMed, that had research about UTI prevention and probiotics.

…Before we proceed any further, make sure you understand the mechanics of why sex causes UTI. This post will explain to you why if you are having UTIs after sex, you need to take care of your vaginal flora first. For a graphic version and detailed explanation see this infographic.

My Secret: UTI Prevention With Probiotics

Probiotics work in your body to help grow beneficial bacteria and bacterial flora is increasingly recognized as an important defense to infection. These beneficial bacteria help to “restrain” E. coli, the cause of most UTIs on the planet. Now imagine, every time you take antibiotics, you kill E. coli but you also kill these beneficial bacteria in your body.

Right after your infection has been cured with antibiotics you actually become more vulnerable to re-infection with E. coli again! And given that the main source of E. coli is always there for you (your own asshole, pardon my French) it makes total sense that recurrent UTIs are so widespread.

Every time you take antibiotics, you kill E. coli but you also kill these beneficial bacteria in your body

What is more important, probiotics are safe to use with no side effects, safe for the elderly, pregnant women and kids and sold over the counter. This is the best UTI prevention you can implement today (these statements reflect my personal opinion and are not verified by FDA).

In my opinion, there is really no risk in suggesting probiotics to anybody. It should be a logical continuation for patients treated with antibiotics.

I believe, recommending UTI prevention with probiotics is so much more valuable than the classic “pee before and after sex” advice.

UTI supplements

I spent about $30 on a monthly supply of potent probiotics.

Needless to say, yogurt and kefir should be also part of the plan, but probiotics in these products are low in concentration (and are also not the type that your vagina needs).

The brand I bought in Walgreens advertised targeted delivery of the probiotics to my “lady parts”, which sounded like exactly the place where I needed them.

Products for UTI Prevention With Probiotics

Here are couple brands of the probiotics (I used RepHresh Pro-B which nowadays is much cheaper than it was when I first bought it), which have the right strains:

1) RepHresh Pro-B Probiotic Feminine Supplement, 30-Count Capsules

2) Douglas Laboratories iFlora Multi-Probiotic – 60 Vegetarian Capsules

3) Jarrow Formulas Fem-Dophilus, 60 Capsules

UTI Prevention With Probiotics? My Doctor Agrees

Three months after my experiment with the probiotics I wrote an email to my doctor telling him about my discovery. He thanked me for sharing and replied: “we are seeing more benefits from probiotics, so I could definitely see how it could work”. Duh?

I also posted comments on a couple of UTI related sites with the same information and finally, decided to start this blog.

Thanks to the Internet nowadays the results of medical trials and research are no longer just for the doctors. I suggest you take matters into your own hands and see if probiotics can help you to break the cycle of recurrent UTIs.

As always, a quick reminder: I’m not a physician and this is strictly my opinion. I highly encourage you to follow the links I provided above and form your own opinion. If you decide to start on probiotics for UTI prevention, make sure to check with your physician.

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56 COMMENTS

  1. Hi I a chronic UTI sufferer too and I get it literally everytime I have sex. Even if I maintain utmost levels of hygiene. I am 27 now and completely put off sex altogether! I now have a UTI which needs to be tested and treated. I would like to know what exactly should I tell my doctor and when to start probiotics. Is it something I should ask to be prescribed along with antibiotics?

    • Hi Apurva, sorry to hear :(( check out these two posts: probiotics for vaginal health and BV/Yeast infection post. If you are otherwise healthy, your doc should have no problems with you taking probiotics. Just tell him/her “FYI this is what I plan to take”. You can take them at the same time as antibiotics, just 2-4 hours later after you take an antibiotic pill and def continue afterward for at least couple more weeks. If you have frequent yeast infection/BV get this addressed with your doctor as well. Best wishes,

  2. Hi, your story gives me some hope as it sound very similar to mine, a few months ago all of a sudden I got a UTI then a few weeks later another one and then a few weeks after another one. I’ve now had 4 in two months and the doctor has given me a preventative of one antibiotic every time I have sex. However, like you I am very against this idea, I have bought some strong probiotics and have been taking them for about a week but now I’m really put off having sex incase I get another uti! How long did you take the probiotics for before realising that you weren’t getting any other utis? I don’t know whether to carry on taking the preventative antibiotics at the same time or if that will make my pro bitoics less effective. Help I’m 23 and am too young to be avoiding sex with the fear of these dreaded infections!

    • Sophie, I’d say a week of probiotics and good diet could be a good start. Nobody could probably say for sure. There are no readily available tests that I know of, unfortunately. There are plenty of other things you could do in the meantime depending on how severe your bladder infections were. Check out posts from Prevention category (this post specifically), this could be a good place to start. Best wishes,

  3. HI,
    Do you know if applying Optibac for Women (same strains as Fem-Dophilus) directly into the vagina would be more beneficial than oral consumption (all the benefits going straight to the desired place)? I’m guessing the bacteria wouldn’t die off if you did this quickly.

    Also, I think I read that you use Fem-Dophilus – do you think that 5 billion CFU every day/every other day enough for maintenance?
    Thanks so much

    • Hi Sam,
      There is no clinical recommendation for a probiotic dose. Most important is your overall diet to accommodate these guys once they are “in”.
      As to vaginal vs oral: yes, you can. Here is Dr. Ore’s post about that .
      Actually, some studies show that oral way might be more beneficial in long-term vaginal colonization. Who knows why 🙂

  4. I have been suffering with low grade uti symptoms for the last year. I take d mannose several times a day which works but every time I try to cut back on it the pain upon urination comes back.
    I have had my urine cultured two or three times but it Co. Is back clear each time.
    I am going to buy a woman’s prebiotics tomorrow, thanks for the info.

    • Hi Jen, glad you find it useful.
      It depends on many factors of your life (diet, lifestyle, stress etc) and your guess as good as mine. I would take it couple times per year, and certainly after an antibiotic treatment. Best of luck,

  5. This is great info! Funny thing, I have taken the Rephresh probiotic in the past to deal with bacterial vaginosis, and it worked. Lately, I’ve been getting this recurrent, intermittent low-grade UTI thing lately (though test first time around was negative for UTI, but it sure feels like one every time!). This morning, on instinct, I decided to pop one of the Rephresh, hoping it would help with whatever is going on with the false UTI thing I keep getting. Just came across your site now, and I plan to explore. Thank you for all of this info!

    • Depends! If a guy has frequent UTIs, it is normally a range of issues that triggers it. I would advise a thorough medical examination to get to the root of the problem, then, once you know the issue, you can develop a prevention plan.

  6. I just want to say THANK YOU for putting so much effort into this. Your blog is a godsend. It’s so crazy to read your story and see that it’s exactly like mine and so many others who follow this. I’m tired of my doctor assuming I don’t know how to wash my vagina or wipe. I thought I was just a helpless cause and started to accept the fact that I’ll be in discomfort or pain the rest of my life (unless I became asexual but who am I kidding lol!).
    Anyway, probiotics have always helped but I still have symptoms here and there so I’m testing other solutions that you recommended. It’s insane that Google (and finding your blog) has done more good for me than a single doctor I’ve seen for my UTIs…since we’re told to take antibiotics like they’re Skittles! So with that said, I greatly appreciate you organizing this and putting all of your research together. I pray for the day I can leave my house without my emergency pack of Azo!

  7. I have been suffering with recurrent UTIs for NINE YEARS. I am constantly trying to research to learn how I can fix this. It is incredibly frustrating, I identified exactly with the degrading “pee after sex, etc etc” spiel EVERY time I had to go to a doctor for antibiotics. I too was put on a low dose antibiotic after sex and after a little while I knew “this CANNOT be healthy” and stopped. Anyway, a very concentrated dose of D-mannose (by Vibrant Health) seems to be the most helpful prevention for me yet. I ran out, and this evening took entirely too much of a different, powder form Dmannose, which caused bad diarrhea, which I didn’t know could happen!! So I googled it, and BING! I found your blog. I’ve read a few of your posts and have already learned much and been more encouraged. I am going to try the probiotics you list. I drink kefir and take A biofilm disruptor, but I didn’t realize kefir isn’t potent enough, let alone the right kind of probiotics! THANK YOU for this blog! I feel sometimes I am the only one with this problem and very hopeless. I have some renewed hope now and encouraged that I am not alone and maybe something can help!!

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