Urinary tract infections can be really uncomfortable; like an itchy wool sweater uncomfortable, or wearing the wrong pair of heels uncomfortable. With a urinary tract infection, or UTI, you can experience pain when you urinate, needing to urinate frequently or urgently, a feeling of still needing to urinate even after you’ve finished, as well as other symptoms.
Urinary tract infections are caused by unwanted microorganisms, such as bacteria, that work their way into your urinary tract. UTIs can be treated with antibiotic medications, but it’s best to try and prevent UTIs from occurring in the first place. Here are some strategies to help lower your risk of developing one:
Drink Plenty of Fluids
If you consume enough water and fluids, you’ll likely be urinating regularly. And with this regular urination you will help flush out any bacteria that have entered your urinary tract before they’re able to colonize. A general guideline for fluid intake is 4-6 cups per day, but this amount will vary depending on your medical history and lifestyle.
Don’t Hold Your Bladder
Similarly to how plenty of fluids helps flush out any bacteria, you should empty your bladder when you feel the need to. If you hold your bladder for long periods of time you are letting your urine sit around; and if any bacteria have entered the urinary tract, this gives them the opportunity to multiply.
Urinate After Sexual Intercourse
Sexual intercourse of any kind, including oral sex, can expose your urethra to harmful bacteria. In order to help prevent a UTI, you should make it a habit to urinate after sex in order to help wash out any bacteria you may have picked up during intercourse.
Consider Swapping out the Use of Spermicides
The use of spermicides for pregnancy prevention has been shown to increase your risk of developing a UTI. If you find yourself getting infections after intercourse you may want to try a different form of birth control instead.
Don’t Depend on Cranberry Juice
There’s a myth that has been going around, which says that the use of cranberry pills or drinking cranberry juice can help prevent UTIs. Recent evidence has shown that there is little affect of cranberry juice on UTI prevention.
If you have frequent urinary tract infections, you should consider speaking with your doctor about prevention strategies. They may offer additional strategies, one of which may include prescribing a low dose, preventative antibiotic.
- Hamlin, Alyssa A et al. “Brief versus Thong Hygiene in Obstetrics and Gynecology (B-THONG): A survey study.” The journal of obstetrics and gynaecology research 45,6 (2019): 1190-1196. doi:10.1111/jog.13958
- “How much water should you drink?” Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. 15 May 2022.
- “Myths and Truths About Urinary Tract Infections”. Brigham Health Hub, Brigham and Women’s Hospital