Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are the second-leading cause of doctor visits in the U.S., responsible for 10 million visits per year. They’re incredibly uncomfortable, require antibiotics and, if left untreated, can cause life-threatening bladder and kidney infections.
For the 50 percent of women who understand just how much having a UTI sucks, Uqora, a Berkeley-based startup that’s launching today, has a solution.
“When you get a UTI, it’s because bacteria gets in the urinary tract and attaches to the wall of the urethra,” Uqora founder Spencer Gordon explains. “The product prevents the bacteria from being able to attach to the wall, so it can’t get inside the cells.”
By synthesizing a variety of existing supplements that have all been proven to reduce the chance of infection, the team behind Uqora has created a sugar-free, Crystal Light-esque drink mix that the company claims will reduce your chances of contracting a UTI by 75 percent.
Since 90 percent of UTIs are caused by sex or any prolonged physical activity that transfers bacteria to the entrance of the urethra (including riding a bike or playing sports in spandex), Uqora recommends drinking one serving within an hour of engaging in these activities.
Gordon says that some women are more prone to these infections than others due to differences in anatomy and immune system. Even more distressing for this unfortunate 20 percent of women, Gordan says, is that the more you contract UTIs, the more dramatically your body responds when fighting the infection — which means it’s even more painful.
The drink mix, which will retail for $25 for a box of 10 servings and is available on the Uqora site as of today, is really the first step in a series of products aimed to reduce antibiotic use.
“Antibiotics are the only treatment for this infection, and they work well, but because they kill native populations of bacteria they can make you really vulnerable to other infections,” Gordon says. “And the more you take antibiotics, the more resistant your body gets, so if you get another serious infection the antibiotics are less likely to work.”
Gordon says the company will roll out a series of products in the following year to help women prevent infections that require antibiotics.