Reducing Your Risk of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
There are a number of recommendations that may help you prevent urinary tract infections:
Ask Your Doctor About Prophylactic Antibiotics
If you tend to have frequent UTIs, your healthcare provider may suggest that you take a small daily dose of antibiotic. Or, if you tend to have UTI infections after sexual intercourse, you might be advised to take a dose of antibiotic just before or just after you engage in intercourse.
Both trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and nitrofurantoin are used in small doses to prevent urinary tract infections. Other ways to reduce your risk of a UTI include:
Drink a Lot of Water
Drinking plenty of water (about 8-ounce glasses each day) may help flush out your urinary system and wash out bacteria. Consider drinking cranberry juice as well; some research studies have suggested that 1-3 cups a day makes the urine more acidic, which can help prevent bacteria from growing.
Take Showers Rather Than Baths; Avoid Perfumed Bath Products
It’s possible that sitting in bath water (especially soapy bath water) may irritate your tissues, making you more susceptible to infection. Furthermore, using perfumed products, bubble bath, douches, or feminine hygiene sprays may also increase your risk of developing a UTI.
Always Wipe from Front to Back
Women should be very careful to wipe themselves carefully after urinating or having a bowel movement. It’s important to always start wiping by your labia and finish at your rectum. This way you won’t contaminate your urethral or vaginal area with bacteria from your rectum.
Urinate Frequently and Completely
Try not to hold your urine too long. When you feel the need to urinate, do so, and take your time to be sure that you empty your bladder completely.
Urinate Before and After Intercourse, and Drink an 8-ounce Glass of Water After Intercourse
This can help flush out bacteria that may have been forced up the urethra during intercourse.
Wear Cotton Underwear
Cotton underwear is more absorbent than artificial fibers and wicks moisture away from your skin. Artificial fibers, such as nylon and polyester, trap moisture, making a good growing environment for bacteria (as well as yeast). This can promote infections.
American Foundation for Urologic Disease website. Available at: http://www.auafoundation.org/auafhome.asp .
Griffith’s 5-Minute Clinical Consult. 2001 ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2001.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/ .
Last reviewed August 2008 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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