Reducing Your Risk of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
There are a number of recommendations that may help you to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs):
If you tend to have frequent UTIs, your doctor may suggest that you take a small daily dose of an antibiotic or cranberry products. Or, if you tend to have UTIs after sexual intercourse, you might be advised to take a dose of antibiotic just before or just after you engage in intercourse.
Several antibiotics, such as trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and nitrofurantoin, can be used in small doses to prevent UTIs. Cranberry extract may also offer benefits in some people. Other ways to reduce your risk of a UTI include:
Drink a Lot of Water
Drinking plenty of water (about eight 8-ounce glasses each day) may help flush out your urinary system and wash out bacteria. Consider drinking cranberry juice, as well. Some studies have shown that 1-3 cups a day makes the urine more acidic, which may help to prevent bacteria from growing. Cranberry tablets may also be effective for some people.
Take a Shower TOP
It is 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 TOP
Women should carefully wipe themselves after urinating or having a bowel movement. It is important to always start wiping by the labia and finish at the anus. This way, you will not contaminate your urethral or vaginal area with bacteria from your anus.
Urinate Frequently and Completely TOP
Try not to hold your urine. When you feel the need to urinate, do so. Take your time to be sure that you empty your bladder completely.
Take Special Care After Sex TOP
Urinate after intercourse. Also, drink an 8-ounce glass of water. This can help flush out bacteria that may have been forced up the urethra during intercourse.
Wear Cotton Underwear TOP
Cotton underwear is more absorbent than artificial fibers. It also 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.
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McMurdo ME, Argo I, et al. Cranberry or trimethoprim for the prevention of recurrent urinary tract infections? A randomized controlled trial in older women. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2009;63(2):389-395.
Uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI) (pyelonephritis and cystitis). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated July 8, 2016. Accessed October 6, 2016.
Urinary tract infections in adults. American Urological Association Foundation website. Available at:
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Accessed September 12, 2016.
Urinary tract infections in adults. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:
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Updated May 2012. Accessed September 12, 2016.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 9/17/2014
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