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INTERVIEW

Urine Trouble! UTI Prevention with Uqora’s Jenna Ryan

It’s 3am on a school night as you bury your head in your hands and groan in pain.

The groans are inspired by a mixture of that last droplet of pee you forced out of your body and the fact that you have your first midterm at 7am.

You’ve done it again — you’ve managed to get a urinary tract infection. Urine trouble. (Yes, that was a UTI pun. Accept it like you’ve been accepting the pain you put yourself through one too many times.)

Now sit down (well, pee first), and let’s delve into the world of UTI prevention with Uqora.

We had the honor of chatting again with Uqora’s CEO and Founder, Jenna Ryan! The last time we spoke was in September of 2017, so we had a lot of catching up to do.

“I didn’t want to stop living my life, but sometimes it felt like my UTI anxiety was all I was thinking about…”

Jenna reminded us of the company’s beginnings, “I didn’t want to stop living my life, but sometimes it felt like my UTI anxiety was all I was thinking about. My partner, Spencer, was tired of watching me suffer too. With Spencer’s background in biochemistry, and my refusal to rely on antibiotics on a daily basis, we started building Uqora,  the UTI prevention company. Built in collaboration with physicians and urologists, with the best clinical research available, Uqora is dedicated to bringing you products that work, so that you can stay ahead of UTIs.”

What do you love most about working at Uqora?

Our customers, no question. Hearing from our customers who have tried everything and are finally, just now, getting ahead of UTIs with Uqora will never get old. It’s incredible.

What has the Uqora team been up to since we last partnered in the fall?

Growing! Our lean but mighty team has been steadily expanding, and the number of women we’ve helped prevent UTIs grows every day. We’re so excited about the impact we’ve made so far, and are doing everything we can to spread the word.

Developing! We have a few new products in the pipeline. Keep your eye out for a brand new Uqora product, which will be on the market in the next 2 months. We’ll also be releasing new Uqora flavors soon.

“…we’re dead-set on getting to the root cause of UTIs.”

Researching! As the UTI prevention company, we’re dead-set on getting to the root cause of UTIs. As a long time sufferer myself, I am determined to help women break free of the cycle. I think there’s been a shamefully limited amount of research on UTIs, especially considering UTIs are the second most common infection in the US. We’re out to change that. We’re setting out to empower researchers to start answering the burning questions. (No pun intended. Okay, maybe pun intended.) We want to know why some of us are disproportionately affected. We want to understand how microbiome plays a role in UTI propensity. We’re getting to the bottom of the cause, effect, and sustainable prevention solutions.

What’s the deal with UTIs? Could you school us a bit on what UTIs are and why they happen? Who suffers from them?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract. Often times, they’re triggered by specific activities (sex and exercise are the big offenders). But for a lot of women, UTIs aren’t triggered by sex or exercise. It just depends. But, definitely, women get more UTIs than men. That’s because bacteria don’t have to travel nearly as far to reach our urinary tracts as they do for men. Half of all women get UTIs, and 20% of that group get recurring UTIs.

So why do some women get UTIs and others do not? Well, it’s something that needs more research. There are some circumstantial things — for instance, peeing after sex, wiping correctly (front to back!), staying hydrated and urinating frequently are all key. But still, some women will be doing all those things and still get a ton of UTIs. That’s likely because of anatomical differences, and likely because some people respond to UTI-causing bacteria, and other people just don’t. If you don’t get UTIs, consider yourself lucky! And, remember that your friend most likely doesn’t have bad hygiene and is most likely peeing after sex. Some of us are just unlucky and need more help.

What is recurrent UTI? Who suffers from them? What makes them different than the normal UTI?

A recurrent UTI, also called a chronic UTI, is an infection that keeps coming back, even after treatment with antibiotics. So the term mostly just refers to frequency. These infections can happen 2 or 3 times per year, once every other month, once per month, or even multiple times per month. And they can, obviously, be endlessly frustrating.

If you were at a rally protesting against UTIs, what would your sign say? What would you yell into the megaphone?

An open letter to the dude doctors: YES I’M WIPING CORRECTLY!

What are some pre-emptive steps we could take over the course of a week to prevent UTIs? Feel free to break them down by day!

There are definitely some day-to-day habits that are key:

  • Stay hydrated. Urination is how your body flushes bacteria out of your system, so the better hydrated you are, the more opportunities you’ll have to push out any bacteria that might otherwise cause problems.
  • Wipe front to back. If you wipe the other direction, you can bring E. coli along, making it easier for the bad bacteria to travel into your urinary tract.
  • Let ‘er breathe. Change out of sweaty gym clothes or wet swimsuits quickly, since bacteria thrive in moist environments.
  • Don’t douche. It can kill the good bacteria (lactobacillus) that you need to combat bad bacteria in your urinary tract.
  • Pee after sex. The golden rule. Sex acutely increases your risk of developing a UTI because it can push bacteria from you or your partner’s skin into your urinary tract.

These are good habits for all of us, whether we’re prone to UTIs or not. And, if you are prone to UTIs, you’re likely doing a lot of these things already. Despite your best efforts, some of us are just more prone to UTIs. This can be a result of hormonal changes, anatomy, pregnancy, or conditions like diabetes. Work Uqora into your routine to stay ahead.

Are there any direct connections between UTIs and birth control?

Diaphragms with spermicide can kill off protective bacteria in the vagina, and without that good bacteria to regulate the ecosystem, bad bacteria can more easily thrive. So, if you’re prone to UTIs, it’s probably better to find an alternative to the diaphragm for birth control.

How do YOU drink Uqora? Does anyone from your team consume it in a unique way?

I drink Uqora every time after sex. Nothing crazy, though. I just mix it up with a glass of water in the bathroom afterward. We’ve had customers tell us that they prefer it as a hot beverage (cozy!), or in a smoothie. Another customer has told us that her husband mixes it up for her before they hit the bedroom so that it’s ready on their bedside table as soon as they’re done. They’re cute, they call it their “bedroom cocktail.”

If you could prevent UTIs the same way Uqora does, in what food or drink would you wish you could eat/drink to prevent them? (In other words, do you have a favorite food?!)

I’m currently drinking a Spindrift, and I’m pretty obsessed. @Spindrift — what do you think? Next flavor, UTI-preventing pink lemonade?

Anything else you’d like to announce to our Pill Club community?

You guys are awesome, and I’m honored to have partnered with Pill Club and their awesome community. Thanks for a great month, and find us at www.uqora.com to give us a try!

Author

Melani Facundo, Pill Club’s Partnerships Manager


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