I resolved my UTI with no antibiotics. Here’s how you can too.

By Jessica Campbell, MS, FNTP

It’s five days before my flight to Mexico. I’ve been anticipating this vacation for months, but I wake up with a burning sensation and need to pee. It's still burning midstream, and then, the telltale sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI): I stand up and feel the urge to pee again. It feels like a nervous bladder all day long that isn’t relieved.

No, not again!

This isn’t a new sensation for me. I get this feeling often after a holiday when I drink too much, eat too much sugar, sit around in a wet bathing suit, or have more sex than usual. Unfortunately, these are all things I planned on doing on my vacation. 🤷

Normally it goes away in a few days if I: 

  • Drink a LOT of water 
  • Make my pee acidic with lemon and vinegar
  • Tell my husband no fooling around
  • Skip the alcohol and sugar

But, I was on my way to paradise and I feared it was going to get a lot worse…

What’s a girl to do? 

This is an anecdote from my own experience and not medical advice, but this is how I resolved my UTI without antibiotics and saved the health of my microbiome. 

I went into the clinic and tested my urine to see if it was my nervous bladder or a real infection. We found white blood cells and blood, so we sent it off for a culture. This is when you must be thinking I should take an antibiotic, but I dare say that would have been a terrible choice. 

Lesson from the past

This is not the first time I’ve seen white blood cells called leukocytes and blood in my urine.  These are normal immune cells in a minor imbalance just like it is normal to see puss in a blister or blood rush into a scratch. White blood cells and blood are tools that your immune system uses to cleanse itself of these types of infections or what I like to call “imbalances.” 

The bummer for me was that the last time I had leukocytes and blood in my urine years ago, the young doctor I saw that day tried to scare me into taking an antibiotic without even seeing the culture results.  

“You could get a raging kidney infection” she yelled into my face as if I was a careless child. I was on my way to go camping, and she scared the crap out of me that I would die with no running water to clean myself. So, I took the antibiotic and it made me feel so much worse. I felt terribly depressed and like a part of me had died.  

Not only did I feel miserable, but when I returned, the young doctor said, “Oh, by the way, your culture did not have an actual infection.” I was furious that I had taken the antibiotic for nothing and I shared my awful feelings. She confided that others  had shared that same sentiment and that I should be happy it was not in my kidneys. 

This is not OK! 

How the medical system is failing women 

Working in OB/Gyn for the past 8 years, I’ve seen countless women suffer from repeat UTIs and I believe it is in part because they too are told immediately to take antibiotics. They appear to work at first, but very often women get a repeat infection because the antibiotic upsets the vaginal microbial balance worse.  

Please note, I’m not saying you never need an antibiotic. In a severe case, it can be necessary to protect the infection from moving into the kidneys.  But, most infections start as small imbalances of bacteria and resolving this is possible. 

Bacteria Lesson

In the vaginal microbiome, scientists have found that there should only be one main species of bacteria, lactobacilli and that any shift away from this dominant species can cause imbalances that allow other bacteria to grow. If this species is not flourishing and creating an acidic enough environment, we can find E. coli, candida, klebsiella, staphylococcus and others that typically grow in the intestines and are highly resistant to antibiotics. This means often the overgrowths or infections originate in the intestines and the proximity of the anus to the vagina is why more women suffer from UTIs than men.  

The problem with these bacteria originating in the gut means that taking antibiotics for a UTI will typically just chase the infection back to the gut until it decides it can start growing out of control again, hence the repeat infections. 

I run a large amount of stool tests on women and find E. coli, klebsiella, and staph quite often in women that suffer from repeat UTIs. 

What disrupts this natural balance? 

  • Antibiotics  
  • Spermicides 
  • Multiple partners 
  • Stress 
  • Antifungals 
  • Washes, douches, glitter bombs, and deodorizers  

My protocol

The good news is that we can take a probiotic with lactobacillus that has been very well researched and it can reverse the imbalance that is driving the UTI. You can buy Femdophilus at your local health food store or Pro Flora Women’s Probitoic from my link and take it orally as well as open it up on a pad in your underwear and apply it topically. This is exactly what I did for one week. 

The rest of the protocol that resolved my UTI was this: 

  • Almost 100 oz of clean filtered water every day with a little lemon to remain acidic which is unfavorable to gut bacteria and helps your body flush adequately. 
  • Cranberry with D-mannose 500mg to 1g up to 3x/day 
  • 2 oz pure unfiltered unsweetened pomegranate juice from the farmers market daily. This has  been shown to prevent E. coli from attaching to the bladder walls. 
  • 2 Capsules Femdophilus orally and 1 applied vaginally or topically daily. 

You can find my protocol here if you are looking for high quality supplements. Please remember that this is not medical advice, and you should ask your practitioner if these are appropriate for you before beginning any new regimen.

How I knew it worked

I know the protocol worked because I took the urine culture on a Wednesday and started my protocol the moment I saw my immune system producing white blood cells and blood to try to take care of the situation. I peed what felt like a thousand times a day to keep it flushing. 

Three days later, on Saturday I took off on my flight and brought the antibiotics and medication my new trusted doctor pleaded with me to take along. She understood the nervous bladder and said it may be nothing but better to be safe than sorry. 

She said I could try taking Phenazopyridine (a dye that works as a painkiller to soothe the lining of the urinary tract) first and it might resolve on its own. If you have repeated UTIs and have ever taken a drug that made your pee orange, you’ve likely taken this. It’s not an antibiotic, but a pain killer. However, with my large water consumption I had no problems urinating, so I skipped it.

By Monday my office called to say I was positive for a UTI and to take the antibiotics.  But, by then I felt fine – even after drinking fancy cocktails, sitting around in a wet bathing suit, eating desserts, and having more sex than normal on vacation. Out of curiosity, I looked at my report and I saw that the numbers of staph were so low, I was going to be fine. 

What about you?

Luckily, I can read a report and I knew I could skip the drugs and rebalance this myself.  

However, what about the average woman who doesn’t know whether it’s a small imbalance or a severe infection? 

It’s a shame that our medical system doesn’t allow the doctor to have a conversation with you and say, “Hey, while waiting for your results, try this natural protocol and you may be just fine.” 

This is the conversation that’s missing in standard medical care and what drives me to stay in practice. I’m so happy I was able to rebalance my vaginal microbiome and resolve the UTI with simple things I could buy at the store. 

I hope this inspires you to try the same and keep the conversation open with your doctor. 

And if you’re stuck in the recurring UTI cycle, reach out to me so we can have a conversation about recovering the balance in your vaginal microbiome.