Many women will experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) at least once. Women have a much higher chance of getting a UTI than men. Doctors have always assumed that this gender ratio came from the differences in male and female anatomy. How many women get an incorrect UTI diagnosis when the problem really lies in the vagina?
What Causes a UTI or Bladder Infection?
A true UTI is caused by bacteria that enter the urethra. They can travel up to the bladder and then to the kidneys, causing severe health problems if untreated. Fortunately, a urine sample will show any unwelcome bacteria, and antibiotics will usually improve your symptoms.
However, some women keep getting symptoms of a bladder infection or UTI but have negative test results. For these women, symptoms like pain and burning during urination, irritation, or pain in the vulva and surrounding area become chronic, and repeat courses of antibiotics only seem to make them worse.
I Have the Symptoms of a Bladder Infection, But It’s Not a UTI?
When is a UTI not a UTI? Sometimes your bladder infection does not respond to treatment because your symptoms are not the result of bacteria in your urethra. Instead, your symptoms may result from irritation and inflammation of the urethra and surrounding skin. The cause comes from the vagina, where a normal balance of bacteria maintains a healthy pH and controls the microflora population.
When something goes wrong with the balance of the vaginal microflora, unwelcome bacteria or yeasts can start to grow and excrete chemicals that affect the vaginal secretions. As a result, these secretions become an irritant that inflames and causes pain in the vulva, the vestibule (opening to the vagina), and the area around the urethra. Many women and their gynecologists mistake this for a UTI.
When It’s Time to See a Specialist About Your UTI
If your UTI or bladder infection does not go away, even with treatment, you should consider seeing a vulvovaginal specialist like the experts at Fowler GYN International. Highly trained doctors who specialize in vulvar and vaginal issues can correctly diagnose your vaginal condition and put you on a course of treatment. When the vaginal imbalance resolves, so will your “UTI” symptoms.
How Will a Specialist Treat my UTI Symptoms?
Your vulvovaginal specialist will test your vaginal fluids using an advanced system that assesses the population and health of the vaginal microflora. They will treat the underlying causes of your imbalance to restore your vaginal health. Without the irritants, your urethral and vulvar areas have a chance to heal and become less hypersensitive.
Take the Next Step
The experts in vaginal health at Fowler GYN International (FGI) Phoenix, AZ, specialize in the treatment of vulvovaginal conditions. The team at FGI is led by Dr. R. Stuart Fowler. Dr. Fowler is an Emeritus Mayo Clinic board-certified gynecologist.
You can reach FGI at https://www.fowlergyninternational.com/, or by calling (480) 420-4001.