How to Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections

Woman drinking water out of glass

“A UTI, in case you don’t know, is not a college online,” quipped Amy Schumer in her October 2015 HBO special. “It is a urinary-tract infection.”

Over 50% of women will experience at least one UTI in their lifetime. And you’ll know pretty quickly when you’ve got one: constantly feeling like you have to pee, even after having done so. Intense burning during urination. Cloudy or strong-smelling urine. Feeling like your bladder is continually full. Possibly even blood in your urine.

Though men can get UTIs too, women are more frequently impacted. If left untreated, UTIs can develop into sepsis, an extreme reaction to an infection that can even be deadly. Fortunately, most UTIs can be treated with antibiotics prescribed by your doctor, but you’re better off preventing this common infection from the get-go. Here are several ways that you can.

Pee After Sex

“UTIs are infections in your urinary system caused by bacteria, most often E. coli,” explains Dr. Lynley Durrett. “Your bladder, urethra, ureters and even kidneys can be impacted. And, unfortunately, one of the best ways to introduce bacteria into your urinary system is by having sex.”

One way to flush out the invasion of potential bacteria is to urinate after intercourse. Though it doesn’t always guarantee you won’t get a UTI (and can be inconvenient when it comes to passion), taking this extra trip may save you a trip to the doctor’s office and a great deal of discomfort.

Drink A Lot of Water (And, Yes, Cranberry Juice)

In spite of its association with UTIs, once bacteria has taken hold, cranberry juice won’t cure your infection. Studies show however that cranberry consumption can prevent E. coli bacteria from attaching to your body’s tissues in the first place.

“The main thing you want to do,” advises Dr. Durrett, “is to drink lots of fluids to keep your bladder hydrated and healthy. Consuming at least 50 ounces of water a day can also help regularly dilute your urine and help clear out bacteria.”

Wipe From Front To Back

Using the bathroom is another way E. coli can sneak into your urethra and give you a UTI. To keep this from happening, after your bowel movement and urination, wipe yourself from front to back instead of the other way around. If this feels like unfamiliar acrobatics, your gynecologist can give you a tutorial.

Stay Away From Douches, Powders, or Other Feminine Cleaning Products

Believe it or not, plain water may be one of the best methods for keeping your vulva and surrounding area clean. “Douche nozzles, powders, and applicators for other ‘cleansers’ can all pick up or hold bacteria, which could then lead to a urinary tract infection,” Dr. Durrett warns. Your body does a fine job of cleaning things “down there” on its own, and cleansing chemicals can further irritate your urethra, making it more susceptible to infection. If you’re uncertain about your vaginal cleanliness and best practices, talk to your gynecologist for individualized tips.

Urinary tract infections are no picnic. And they’re easy to contract even with prevention in place. If you need quick relief from a UTI, or have questions about any other gynecological condition, our top doctors and caring team are here to help. Schedule an appointment online or by calling 404-352-2850.