New Member Questions

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I am brand new here & have several questions.

First, though, a little history...

I am a 61 year old female not sexually active who has suffered from recurrent UTIs for over 40 years. Sex was often the culprit, but for the past couple years I have been abstinent.

In the past few years my UTIs began to become asymptomatic UNTIL my bacteria levels were pretty high. THEN I would have urgency, foul odor, back pain, urgency & burning.

It would take an average of 2-4 rounds of antibiotics to clear the infection.

Last year I had a UTI I thought had been resolved, but it got into my bloodstream causing sepsis and gangrene. Since then I have insisted I have a urinalysis done every other month to make sure I am clean since I am asymptomatic.

Now to my questions!

I tested positive for bacteria & squamous cells in my recent test. I got the results before my doctor so when I called office about treatment they didnt have report in my chart. The medical assistant told me 'some bacteria' in your urine is normal, but dr. would look over report and get back to me.

Is it true some bacteria in your urine is normal?

2nd, these squamous cells reportedly can come from vagina & what I may think is a UTI could be yeast or vaginitis...not a UTI?

3) If it is yeast or vaginitis is the treatment not with antibiotics?

4) Has anyone been treated for UTIs with estrogen cream? My PCP is recommending it because of my frequent infections. He said post menopausal women often have thinning of the vaginal walls due to lack of estrogen which leads to both vaginal infections & UTIs.

I appreciate any input.

Thank you.


0 likes, 20 replies

20 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Kathy , first of all , urine of a healthy person is almost sterile . So , no , bacteria are not normal . The vast majority of uti’s come from E. coli bacteria , which really belong in your colon and get into your bladder by cross contamination. I’m in the same boat you are , and I got myself test strips to test my own urine about once a week . This way I know there’s something coming down the pike before I have symptoms . If the test is negative and I still have symptoms , it’s a yeast infection , not a uti , and taking an antibiotic in this case would be wrong . You may not have found the right one yet , I did well on Septra for a while , then had to switch to Cipro , then Macrobid . Eventually I got a new doctor , she gives me a different one every time , so the bacteria don’t get used to one kind . I also take D Mannose 3 times daily to flush out any bacteria in my bladder . I also take daily probiotics . I hope some of my limited knowledge helps , good luck . It’s a nasty problem to have .
  • Posted

    Hi Kathy and welcome,

    In answer to your last question, I haven't actually been treated with Oestrogen cream, my GP wanted to prescribe it to me for recurrent UTI's however as I had had endometrial cancer (hysterectomy done) my Gynaecologist said a resounding NO when she telephoned him, so yes it does get prescribed for frequent infections. Like Rainbows end I take D-Mannose regularly to help flush out/keep at bay any 'nasties', it certainly seems to help. 

    • Posted

      Hi Phoebe!

      I also had uterine cancer so am hesitant about taking even low dose estrogen. But my PCP said I would be okay. I am 5 years out from my cancer so have no contact with my gyn-onc, but I plan to talk to my regular gyn about his thoughts on it.

      I had read alot on d-mannose and just ordered some off Amazon yesterday! I am glad to hear it has helped you! That would be an answer to my prayers plus I would not feel so desperate about using the estrogen cream.


    • Posted

      When i first went to see my gynaecologist one of the first questions he asked me was had I ever been on HRT? (I was 61 then) and when I said no he said 'Good'  and I knew that when my GP was about to ask him about the oestrogen cream that he would refuse it and I trust him implicitly, he has an incredibly good reputation, to be honest with you I most probably would have refused it anyway I don't like messing with nature in this way, however that is only my opinion as I know it helps others. I take a combination of things, D-Mannose, Cranberry Tablets, Vitamin C tablets as well as apparently this helps the other things to work more efficiently, I can't remember where I found that out as I have done so much research it made me cross eyed eek LOL. but I know I read it a couple of times., Don't expect immediate results, I think it takes a while to really get into your system and yes I do still get the signs of a UTI starting occasionally but it is then that I up the amount of D-Mannose and of course I drink plenty of water and the symptoms go quite quickly, start yourself off on quite a high dose, they are not cheap I know but if they help it's worth the money..

      Good luck Kathy, let us know how you get on.

      Phoebe x

  • Posted

    Hi Kathy,

    I can emphasise with you having sepsis. I'm a 67 year old male and have had UTI related sepsis on two ocassions, the first being the worst when the infection got into my hip (septic arthritis..ouch!!) needing surgery and loads of strong antibiotics to clear it. Scary times as I'm sure you can appreciate.

    Mine's a long complicated story involving a chronic bladder condition, rheumatoid arthritis and the immune suppressing medication used to treat it. Anyway to sum up, I haven't had a symptomatic UTI for 2+ years since stopping the above meds.  Despite having no symptoms my docs continued to treat me with antibiotics if my urine analysis showed high levels of bacteria. This eventually helped my e. coli type bacteria become resistant to all the common antibiotics. The last course of a common antibiotic (nitrofurentoin) I had, and which my e. coli bug was supposed to be sensitive to, actually brought on symptoms.  That was enough for me and I decided that I won't be taking any more antibiotics unless I have symptoms, which  I haven't since.  That may change soon as my RA is causing me so many problems that I've recently been forced to start taking immune suppressants again. If it does then the plan is for me to go straight to hospital and put on appropriate's like living on the edge! :-)

    Apologies for rambling on about my woes, but hope you might find something of interest there.

    Take care



    • Posted

      Hi Tony!

      Thank you for your response.

      I think that unless you have gone thru sepsis it is hard to understand how it impacts you. It is very sneaky and terrifying. I was laid up for almost 6 months last year between the surgery, hospitalization, IV antibiotic treatment at home for several weeks, a wound vac, colostomy & home nursing care!

      Prior to the UTI/sepsis I was working, walking & swimming, living a pretty healthy life.

      Now I am almost paranoid about UTIs.

      What a pain to have to go to hospital for IV treatments for a condition most people think of as benign or easily cured!

      Best wishes you remain UTI free

    • Posted

      Tell me about it!  Sepsis hit me like a bolt from the blue! noticeable symptoms. Woke up one morning unable to walk due to excruciating pain in my hip. The ambulance crew didn't want to take me to hospital because all of their obs were normal. Luckily my GP happened to phone and insisted they take me in...3 cheers for Dr Raj. :-)   I had 2 bouts of surgery to clean out the infection, followed by a couple of CT scans and a very scary ultra sound scan of my heart to make sure the bug hadn't reached there. I spent over a week in hospital before being sent home with several weeks supply of strong antibiotics. As with you, it took me the best part of 6 months to recover from that little lot. Approx a year later I spent a week in hospital with a bout of less serious, but still worrying urosepsis. 

      The orthopaedic consultant at the time of the septic hip (3+ years ago) believed that a strong immune suppressing med I was taking for my RA at the time was the main player in allowing the bug from a  UTI, which was thought to have cleared a couple of weeks previous, to access my bloodstream. Needless to say that he advised me not to take it again.

      As mentioned my RA is not well controlled and is causing me other serious health problems. So with much deliberation, as you can imagine, I have decided to take my chances with the sepsis risk and have recently started back on an immune suppressant. Talk about a catch 22 situation!  Can only keep my fingers XXXX.

      I believe that antibiotic resistance is a bigger problem than the authorities are currently making out. It was more than 3 years ago I heard a government spokesman say that they were getting around the table with the drug companies to urge them to do more to find new or replacement antibiotics. I have never heard the outcome of such a meeting if indeed it ever took place.

      Sorry for the pessimism and scepticism, guess that's what having sepsis does to you!  :-)

      Take care Kathy

    • Posted

      Tony...I am right there with you on both the damned if you do...damned if you don' your case regarding your meds.

      I am SO afraid of getting sepsis again it is like PTSD! I am absolutely paranoid. I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place since my doc said he only sees two forms of treatment for me: an estrogen cream I am reluctant to take because of my past history of uterine cancer OR daily antibiotics for the rest of my life therefore possibly developing resistance for any future problems.

      Hard choices for both of us.

      I know RA is a difficult condition to manage as my boss had it. Hers was not as serious as yours sounds, but we were only in our 40s then. I remember how debillitating it was for her...

      Prayers we can both find a healthy solution to these darn infections!

    • Posted

      Crikey, that's a heck of a predicament to put it mildly.  Anyone would be paranoid in your position.

      You are  far more knowledgeable about UTIs and sepsis than I am. Being a typical bloke I tend to stick my head in the sand, which is not the most intelligent thing to do if you have a serious health condition. I'm not as bad as I used to be and since having the septic hip will question certain decisions made by my doctors. 

      I know antibiotic resistance is a big concern and we can all react differently to the same medication, but I've heard about lots of people who have been taking long term antibiotic for years. What do your consultants have to say about it?

      I know all about sepsis paranoia.  When I was discharged from hospital I was so scared of getting sepsis again that I not only stopped the med the orthopaedic consultant  advised me to stop, but also refused to take all immune suppressing meds, including steroids. I thought I could get by on strong pain relief but unfortunately it didn't quite work out that way and  within a month or so I was practically housebound with constant debilitating pain. I had no idea my RA was so bad it was an absolute nightmare! Don't ask me how, but I managed to hold out for 3 months in that condition. If that wasn't bad enough there was worse to come...I also developed a nasty persistent cough, which eventually eased off and it was only when abnormalities were later discovered during a routine chest x-ray that I was eventually diagnosed with serious interstitial lung disease, apparently instigated by inflammation getting into my lungs, which no doubt occurred  at the time of that cough.  Not that my lungs can't deteriorate whatever the case, but there's no point inviting it, so to avoid high levels of inflammation again, which was/is the main reason why I decided to risk sepsis and start taking an immune suppressant again.    

      So yep, between a rock and a hard place pretty much sums up our situations.


  • Posted

    According to respectable health professionals, the acceptable range for Squamous epithelial cells - =15-20 cells/hpf.  More than that, with no other abnormal readings, usually represents contamination.  Of course, there are always outliers.

    According to the same health professional sources, no bacteria should be seen in the Microscopic examination of the urine.  Is that where your bacteria was found or was it in the culture?   I don't know (but am interested in knowing) if there can be a case where no bacteria is seen in the microscopic but can see grow and be seen in the culture.  Probably this doesn't make sense, but I think it has happened in my case.   

    Also, I subscribe to all the lates urinology research documents and the latest theory is that urine is no completely sterile.

    I am interested in your case, specifically the fact that you were asymptomatic and got sepsis.  How did you know you had a UTI if you had no symptoms?  

    I am post menopausal for a couple decades.  I've been using estrogen cream for 1.5 years.  I think it helps prevent UTI's.  

    Did you have White Blood Cells abnormal in your latest culture?

    • Posted

      Hi Marilee...thanks for the response & info!

      My urinalysis lab report showed 'many' squamous cells and 'few' bacteria. My culture won't be ready before today.

      No WBC in this specimen. Few leukolytes...

      I agree no bacteria should be in me...even with no medical just makes sense. Even if specimen was 'contaminated' from vaginal secretions...either I have a UTI or yeast or vaginitis!

      Prior to sepsis my UTIs were picked up on my bi-yearly labwork. I had one that was treated a couple months prior to sepsis and believed it was gone. My labwork in ER showed raging UTI and doctors explained it must have been in my system from prior UTI.

      That is why I am SO paranoid about ANY bacteria!

  • Posted

    When you went to the ER and they found the raging UTI, what did you go to the ER for?  You must have had some symptoms?

    If I'm reading correctly, you have a lot of heath issues going on.  Are you sure it was the UTI that caused the sepsis and not something else?

    • Posted

      Hi again!

      I went to ER because I had fever, chills, dizziness and then started having brief blackouts. I could barely move I was so legtharic and all these symptoms manifested within 48 hours.

      No UTI symptoms...

      I went in thinking it was a bad case of the flu, but it turned out otherwise. The doctors...including the infectious disease doctor that was called in agreed the UTI was the culprit. I think the fact that I developed gangrene in one of my buttocks close to the perianal area led them to this diagnosis along with no other factors/infections that led to sepsis.

      Since my recovery last year I have done extensive research on sepsis and was amazed at how often it can turn septic.

      Hence my ongoing questions and research on UTIs

    • Posted

      Was the gangrene there before the UTI?  I mean, do they think the bacteria from the gangrene got into the urethra?   Which bacteria was it?  I'll bet it was not ecoli.


    • Posted

      My understanding of what happened is that the UTI got into my bloodstream and as you may knoe sepsis is blood poisoning. When there is alot of bacteria or poison in your blood system your organs begin to be affected and your blood pressure can drop to dangerously low levels. Mine was 80/40 at one point.

      When the blood pressure drops like that your extremeties...fingers, hands, toes, feet, etc. do not get the oxygen needed and this opens the door for the gangrene process to take over.

      I hope I am explaining this correctly. I had to deal with so many specialists during my illness and I was so sick I don't remember all the details. Also, it appears many medical professionals are not very educated about sepsis.

      There is a great website on sepsis with personal stories on how most of the patients contracted it. ALOT from UTIs. You might want to check it out...

    • Posted

      Hi marilee,

      I'm also interested to hear what type of bacteria Kathy had.  They could not identify mine even though they took a sample directly from my hip joint during surgery. The consultant said that this is not uncommon.

      Kathy's sepsis sounds more serious than what I had.

    • Posted


      Probably bordering on the realms of idiocy, so for what it's worth. As our sepsis was thought to have stemmed from a previous UTI, which according to lab tests had cleared a number of weeks prior to the sepsis.  Obviously there's a big concern that this could happen again with another UTI.  So I've been wondering if it's possible that by having our bloods monitored over the following weeks, or even months after a UTI, could pick up the early signs of an infection. I'm thinking that our CRP or ESR levels could be monitored as they were when we had sepsis. It could be a problem if we have other conditions that could also cause inflammation such as my RA, but they seemed to overcome that ok when I was in hospital with sepsis....and you thought you were paranoid, Kathy! :-)

      Anyway, I'd appreciate any thoughts before I embarrass myself when I ask my  rheumatologist the next time I see her?

    • Posted

      I give up.  I understand sepsis and urosepis.  I ask you a direct question and get a roundabout answer.  Urosepsis occurs when a UTI advances to the Kidney and gets into the bloodstream from there.  A kidney infection does have symptoms, such as the ones you had when you went to the ER (back pain, dizzy, nausea, etc.).    I am trying to understand how a UTI with no symptoms can all of a sudden develop into sepsis, so I ask if the wound you had treated came before or after the sepsis.  Don't even bother answering, I'm leaving this thread.

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