Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are a common but uncomfortable ailment that affects millions of people worldwide each year. They are particularly prevalent among women, with more than half experiencing at least one UTI in their lifetime. While UTIs are typically treatable, their recurrent nature can lead to discomfort and frustration, highlighting the crucial need for effective preventative measures.
This comprehensive guide provides an in-depth look at how to prevent UTIs, a condition caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract.
Whether you’re navigating recurring UTIs or seeking knowledge to protect your urinary health proactively, this article aims to equip you with evidence-based insights and practical tips on how to prevent UTI. By understanding the ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘why’ of UTI prevention, you’ll be better prepared to implement these strategies and potentially reduce the frequency and severity of UTIs.
Find out more about UTI symptoms and treatment.
How to Prevent UTI: Do
Certainly, here’s a detailed list of actions you can take to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), including what to do, how to do it correctly, and why it works:
1. Stay Hydrated
How: Drink at least six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Your urine should be light yellow or clear, which is a good sign you’re well-hydrated.
Why: Proper hydration increases the frequency of urination, which helps flush bacteria out of the urinary tract.
2. Urinate Regularly
How: Don’t hold in urine for long periods. Try to use the restroom every 3-4 hours or whenever you feel the need to go.
Why: Holding urine in for too long can allow bacteria to multiply within the urinary tract, increasing the risk of a UTI.
3. Practice Proper Wiping Technique
How: Always wipe from front to back after using the toilet, especially after a bowel movement.
Why: This prevents bacteria in the anal region from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
4. Empty Your Bladder Before and After Sexual Activity
How: Use the restroom before and as soon as possible after intercourse.
Why: This can help to flush out any bacteria that may have entered the urethra during sexual activity.
5. Maintain Good Sexual Hygiene
How: Cleanse your genital and anal areas before and after sex. Also, consider using a barrier method of contraception and changing condoms if switching from anal to vaginal intercourse.
Why: This reduces the risk of transferring bacteria into the urethra.
6. Choose Breathable Underwear
How: Opt for cotton underwear and avoid tight-fitting pants.
Why: Cotton allows moisture to evaporate instead of creating a damp environment that can foster bacterial growth.
7. Maintain a Healthy Diet
How: Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit sugary and processed foods.
Why: A healthy diet supports a strong immune system, which can fight off infections, including UTIs.
8. Consider Taking a Probiotic
How: Consume probiotic-rich foods or supplements, as recommended by a healthcare professional.
Why: Probiotics, particularly those in the Lactobacillus family, can inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the urinary tract.
How to Prevent UTI: Don’t
10. Do Not Use Scented Soaps or Feminine Hygiene Products
Scented soaps, douches, and powders can irritate the urethra and disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in the area, potentially leading to a UTI.
11. Do Not Hold in Urine
When you resist the urge to urinate, it allows bacteria to multiply within the urinary tract, which can increase the risk of developing a UTI.
12. Avoid Potentially Irritating Feminine Products
Skip douches, powders, and other potentially irritating feminine products in the genital area because these products can irritate the urethra and increase your risk of a UTI.
13. Do Not Rush When Urinating
It’s important to take your time and fully empty your bladder when you urinate. Incomplete emptying can provide a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to a UTI.
14. Avoid Tight Synthetic Underwear
Nylon or other synthetic materials can trap moisture and create an environment conducive to bacterial growth. Opt for breathable cotton underwear instead.
15. Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Drinking a lot of alcohol can irritate your bladder and lead to dehydration, both of which can increase your risk of a UTI.
16. Avoid Consuming a Lot of Sugary Foods or Drinks
Excess sugar can disrupt the body’s normal pH balance, creating an environment in which bacteria thrive, potentially leading to a UTI.
17. Do Not Use Condoms or Diaphragms With Spermicidal Lube
Spermicides can disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina and urethra, making it easier for bacteria to infect the urinary tract.
18. Avoid Using Hot Tubs or Soaking in Bubble Baths
Prolonged exposure to water in hot tubs or bubble baths can disrupt the normal bacterial flora and irritate the urethra, increasing the risk of UTIs.
19. Avoid Holding in Stool
Regular bowel movements help prevent constipation, which can indirectly increase your risk of a UTI by causing the bladder not to empty completely. You can find out more about your Pelvic Floor Health from our Pelvic Floor Clinic.
Remember, these do’s and don’ts can significantly reduce your risk of UTIs, but they can’t guarantee you won’t get a UTI. Always consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns or experience symptoms of a UTI. Get in touch with us to find out more about UTI treatment.
Other Ways to Prevent UTIs Coming back
Consider a Prophylactic Antibiotic Regimen
In some cases, doctors may recommend a low-dose antibiotic treatment, especially if UTIs seem to be related to sexual activity or if they occur frequently.
Use Topical Estrogen (For Postmenopausal Women)
Topical estrogen can help restore a healthy bacterial flora in the vagina, which can provide a natural defense against UTIs.
Regular physical activity can help keep your immune system strong, which can help prevent infections, including UTIs.
Use a UTI Prevention Supplement
Some studies suggest that supplements like D-mannose or cranberry extract may help prevent UTIs, but more research is needed. Always consult a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement and speak to your doctor before taking any of these during pregnancy. Be aware that D-mannose and cranberry products can contain a lot of sugar and, if you’re taking warfarin, you should avoid cranberry products.
- If you’re worried about urinary tract infections or recurrent UTIs, speak to your urologist or GP (don’t have a GP?)
- The Urology Department here at King Edward VII’s Hospital offers treatment and care for all types of urological issues including incontinence, recurrent UTIs and Prostate Cancer .