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How To Prevent a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Unisex diagram of the urinary tract

Unisex diagram of the urinary tract

What is an UTI?

Urinary tract infection, or UTI, is a generic name given to a bacterial infection in any part of the urinary tract (diagramed at right). A UTI occurs when bacteria enter the body through the urethra, and colonize the bladder or kidneys.

Symptoms include:

  • frequent urination
  • urges with little or no subsequent urination
  • burning at the meatus (or opening) of the urethra during urination
  • pus in the urine
  • blood in the urine
  • cloudy urine
  • abdominal pain
  • fever

Prevention Tips

Most of us will get at least one UTI during the course of our lifetime, no matter how careful we may be. However, there are simple things you can do to minimize your risk and/or prevent reinfection. Both men and women are susceptible to urinary tract infections, but because of the proximity of the anus and vagina to the opening of the urethra on the female anatomy, women are much more vulnerable. Here are a few rules of thumb to reduce your likelihood of infection:

  • Drink plenty of fluids every day, preferably enough to prompt urination every hour.
  • Urinate frequently and try to empty your bladder each time you do.
  • Do not "hold it," or ignore the urge to urinate.
  • Wash your hands and genitals before and after sexual contact.
  • Wear loose clothing during physical activity.
  • Drink extra water during and after exercising.
  • Take showers, rather than baths, or urinate soon after batheing.
  • Reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake.
  • Avoid refined sugars and starches, as they may feed bacteria, sticking as much as possible to high-fiber whole-grain foods.
  • Drink at least one glass of cranberry, orange, or grapefruit juice daily to acidify your urine and kill existing harmful bacteria.
  • Reduce your stress to boost your immunity.
  • Take daily vitamins, particularly vitamins C and B6, as well as a magnesium-calcium supplement

A few tips specifically for women:

  • Wipe from front to back after using the toilet, to keep bacteria from your vagina and anus away from your urethra.
  • Be sure to urinate and drink a glass of water soon after sexual intercourse, to flush out any bacteria that might have entered the urinary tract before they have a chance to anchor.
  • Change sanitary napkins frequently, as the blood may provide a bridge from the urethra to your vagina and anus.
  • If you find yourself prone to UTIs, consider changing your birth control method, as some women find that certain contraceptives (such as vaginal suppositories and foams) irritate the urethra.

If you think you might have a UTI already, please make the earliest available appointment with your doctor. While the tips above may speed recovery, they are meant primarily as preventative measures, and are not a replacement for the antibiotics needed to cure your infection.

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Martie B on January 26, 2012:

None of the store products work for me. If you're a lady, and you know the maddening pain, doctor visits, nasty antibiotic prescriptions, and repeat visits associated with recurrent UTI. Please note, I'm not a doctor, and UTI's have the potential to turn into serious bladder infections, and a bladder infection cannot be gotten rid of without some hardcore antibiotics.

The Lady Soma Detox is the only detox product on the market that prevents my UTI's. I take as directed, and never have to experience a UTI as long as I drink a lot of water. You have to drink tons of water (and that alone is not what prevents the UTI, believe me). I don't know how it works, I just know it does. This is totally anectodal. Always see your doctor. Good luck!

margo on November 09, 2011:

I am not a doctor, everything I am stating is my theory through my personal experience.

For almost a year, I had re-occurring UTI's. I went to several doctors, got bacteria lab tests, blood tests, Kat Scanned..... I was told multiple times that I was perfectly healthy. I took a 5 day Anti-Bacteria perscription, and it came back about 3 weeks later. Then I took a 7 day perscription, and then a 10 day a couple of times, and then a 14 day. It just kept coming back. I saw a urologyst, whom also agreed I was perfectly healthy. I got a perscription I could take when ever I got one. The doctor let me know I was just septable to UTI's, even though I have never been septable to them before. I couldn't understand why I kept getting UTI's if I was perfectly healthy. I am sexually active, I pee after sex, I wipe front to back, I drink lots of water... All good advise! But still got UTI's over and over again...

One day I had an epithany. Some days I felt kinda slippery down there. And I remembered in chemistry class, Bases are slippery. This made me think, "Aren't we supposed to be on the Acidic side of the PH scale?" After doing some online research, I found some info about eating high Alkline foods to keep your body's acidic balance. I've have been focusing on this type of diet and I haven't had a UTI in 2 years!

Some other things I have learned from my experiences:

1) You should avoid all dairy, including yogurt while taking Anti-Biotics. It nuetralizes the medicine. I believe you should eat it towards the end of treatment and after, to help restore your body's good bacteria.

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2) Cranberry juice never worked for me. I have heard from some people that it did help them, and others say it does not. I think cranberries are good because they are bitter and that helps your PH balance. But the juice usually has so much sugar in it, which hurts your PH balance. If you like the cranberry thing, you should probably go with the cranberry pills.

3) You should always drink plenty of water, but do not drink too much water while taking Anti-Biotics. It will flush out the medicine before it gets a chance to do its job. There's usually instructions to take it with one full glass of water, which is good, but thought out the day you should not drink a rediculous amount of water.

Foods I try to avoid, or eat in moderation: Sugar, oils, dairy.

Foods I try to eat, to avoid UTI's: High Alkline foods, fruits, vegies, garlic, vitimin C, vinager (pickles, olives, greek peppers...)

Bruce on September 27, 2011:

Your first tip for women is: "Wipe from front to back after using the toilet, to keep bacteria from your vagina and anus away from your urethra." The best way to clean is with water. A spa toilet seat like Spaloo cleans way better than toilet paper. Water cleans better, feels better and is more sanitary than toilet paper.

Lauren Long on August 26, 2011:

Cystex liquid at Walgreens helps prevent and treat a UTI`s. I have been having them for 12 years several times a year so take it from me...Cystex Liquid Cranberry works very well. They sell it at Walgreens. It is $9.99 per bottle. It is more potent than 8 glasses of cranberry juice and tastes a little like cotton candy too so that's a plus :)

Wardha on August 21, 2010:

i m just loving this tips thanx!!

CathyWebber on August 03, 2010:

Good information.

In some cases, avoiding perfumed toilet paper, powders, and bubble baths can make it better.

gamerjon on October 07, 2009:

Cranberry together with probiotics work best in avoiding UTI.

Joyce on January 30, 2009:

Not only cranberry juice, but also blueberry, which both make the bladder "slippery" and less likely for the infection to start.

UTITreatmentGuide on August 17, 2008:

Great information on urinary tract infections. These can be so uncomfortable. I just created my first Hubpage and it is on UTIs.

Fayme Zelena Harper from Lucerne Valley, CA on September 13, 2007:

Having just had the UTI from hell, I can agree with all this since my research and suffering came to the same conclusions. I'm kicking myself for not having cranberry juice on hand, because I'm convinced drinking cranberry juice is why I haven't had one in 9 years. I think the combination of the heat wave (105) and my period starting at the same time were contributing factors. A trip to the ER confirmed my fears and thank goodness for antibiotics.

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on September 09, 2007:

Great advice and information!

gaussmarkov on September 08, 2007:

thanks, maddie! i always have a cranberry drink for lunch for this very reason. :D

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